In 1978, when the Under Secretary’s Lodge in Dublin, Ireland, was set to be demolished, a centuries-old castle was discovered among its would-be ruins. The medieval castle is impressive not so much for its enormity, but instead for its modesty.
In the 18th century, a Georgian mansion was constructed to accommodate the now-defunct position of the British Undersecretary of Ireland (equivalent to a regional governor). For reasons unknown, this castle was somehow incorporated into the existing mansion.
In 1922, when Ireland attained independence, the undersecretary position disappeared and the residence was rented out to the Vatican. The Irish considered using the property to house the Irish Prime Minister, but eventually decided that the mansion was in too poor of a state to repair.
Fortunately, as the lodge was being demolished in 1978, the forgotten castle was rediscovered, and historic preservationists stopped the process from going through entirely. Today, all that remains of the lost mansion is Ashtown Castle, along with another structure that has been converted to a visitor’s center with beautiful walled Victorian gardens.
Know Before You Go
Be sure to check a map of Phoenix Park. The castle is located in the Northwest corner of the park off the Phoenix roundabout off Chesterfield Avenue. Bicycles can be rented to traverse the park. There's access for people with disabilities on the ground floor.
While the exact date of origin of the castle is not known, the tour guides will be able to tell you a lot about the daily life of the residents inside as they show you all four floors of the castle. To gain access to the interior, one must get a free pass from the adjacent visitor's center. This is where you can learn about the history of Phoenix Park through displays and placards.
Its operating hours from April 1 through December 31 are daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From January 1 through March 31, it's open Wednesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.