Green Castle, also known as Greencastle Castle, lies next to the village of Greencastle, south west of the town of Kilkeel, in County Down, in Northern Ireland.
Green Castle was built during the 1230's by the Anglo Norman knight Hugh de Lacy. It guarded the southern approaches to the Earldom of Ulster on the eastern shore of Carlingford Lough. It also commanded the ferry link with Carlingford Castle, which is clearly visible on the opposite shore.
In 1260 the castle was stormed by the Irish. From 1280 to 1326 Green Castle was a favoured residence of the most powerful man in Ireland, Richard de Burgh, the "Red Earl" of Ulster. His daughters were raised here, including Elizabeth, who married Robert I the Bruce, King of Scotland, in 1302. This however didn't stop Robert's younger brother; Edward Bruce, from attacking and taking Green Castle in 1316.
After an unsuccessful siege in 1333-34, the Irish captured and destroyed the castle in 1343 and also in 1375.
In 1505, the castle was granted to Gerald, the great Earl of Kildare, but after their downfall in 1534 the castle quickly deteriorated. However in the 1590's it was still maintained as an English garrison. Green Castle was later granted to the Bagnals who lived here until 1635. It was bombarded and finally destroyed by Parliamentary forces in 1652.
Green Castle was originally a rectangular 2 storey tower, containing a great hall, raised upon a basement, enclosed by a rectangular curtain wall with D-shaped corner towers and surrounded by a rock-cut ditch. Only foundations of the curtain wall and corner towers still remain. The tower was originally entered by a first-floor door on the south, protected by a forebuilding of which a portion still remains.
In the 15th century, to make it more easily defendable, a further storey was added to the tower when the ground floor was sub-divided into three barrel-vaulted chambers. This and other remodelling of the tower in the late 15th and mid 16th centuries gave it much of its present keep-like appearance; the walls were raised at the east and west ends, turrets added at the angles, and a spiral stair, mural passages and wall-walks included.
This is a great castle in a quiet small sea-side village surrounded by a beautiful countryside. Views from the tower over the surrounding landscape to the mountains and Carlingford Lough are very appealing. Green Castle can be visited free of charge during the summer months.