Dunhill Castle

Power (la Poer) of Dunhill Castle

Dunhill Castle is located in south west of Waterford City outside the small village of Dunhill on a stretch of beautiful coastline known as the Copper Coast.

Perched high on a cliff overlooking the River Anne as it meanders it’s way to the sea at Annestown (Bun Abha)lies the vine covered ruins of  the castle with its ancient ramparts now crumbling into history.

The castle is situated on the site of an earlier pre-historic fortification from which the area gets its name – Dún Aill (Forth on the Cliff); here in 1177 the invading Norman family la Poer built their fortress with a view to controlling and defending their newly conquered land.

The la Poer family built the castle in the early 1200s. There is also some evidence of an earlier Celtic fort on the hilltop. The town’s name is derived from the Irish translation of the fort of the rock. The impressive silhouette comprises only about half of the fifteenth century tower with bits of outer walls dating to the early thirteenth century. Between the castle and church would have stood the medieval village of Dunhill which was basically a string of wooden houses. Attached to the front of the church was a small tower in which the priest lived. The castle had an interesting and chequered history.

The la Poer’s (Power) of Dunhill were infamous in the 14th century, as they launched many attacks on Waterford City. In 1345 they destroyed the area around city but were counter-attacked, taken prisoner and many hanged. The remaining members of the Power clan join forces with the O’Driscoll family of Cork. This alliance would attack Waterford many times over the next 100 years, with both success and failure. After a defeat in Tramore in 1368 the castle passed to the Powers of Kilmeaden. It remained in their control until the Cromwellian attack on Dunhill and its first capture (legend of gunners and buttermilk) in 1649.

Once regarded as impregnable, the castle was besieged and sacked, with the outer defenses as well as tower beside the church destroyed. The fate of last Lord of Dunhill and Kilmeaden, John Power and his family is unknown.

The Castle and lands were then given to Sir John Cole with the church given to Waterford Corporation. Cole and his decedents never lived in the castle and the church was disused, with the result that timbers rotted and both fell into ruin during the 1700s. More deterioration was recorded in 1912 when the east wall of the castle collapsed during a storm.

It is said that “out of this house, all the Powers of Ireland descend“.

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