Stella’s Castle, Portrane

Stella’s Castle, Portrane

Photo credit: Stella’s Castle, Portrane by Christine Baker

The Inquisition of 1541 described the 15th century tower house at Portrane as having a threshing house, hemp yard and haggard. The nuns from Grace Dieu are thought to have lived in the Castle after the dissolution of the monasteries. A century later it was recorded as having a thatched hall adjoining, a small barn, a cowhouse and one garden plot. The Civil Survey (1654-6) describes this site as an “old castle” owned by the “Parsonage of Portrane”. Later in 1712 Stella (Esther Johnston), a close friend of Dean Jonathan Swift of St Patrick’s Cathedral lived there, and the last inhabitant was Lady Acheson who died in 1735. The entrance passage to the tower is defended by a murder hole, a common feature of tower houses. The upper portion of the tower has 17th and 18th century brick additions including a chimney. The tower is also known locally as Bob’s Castle, after a subsequent owner of the lands. Geophysical survey was undertaken in the vicinity of Stella’s Tower and identified a series of potential archaeological features that may be associated with its use. In 2021 Fingal County Council undertook the conservation of the tower house protecting it into the future.

Did you know….

Tower houses came into existence when a 1429 statute allowed the counties of the Pale to grant £10 to landowners towards their construction.

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A video on the 2021 restoration of Stella's Tower & St Catherine’s Church, Portrane

Donabate Heritage Map