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Ramble around the Rock of Dunamaise

Read the story below and tap the picture to see slide show of pictures taken by Stan Henderson

Laois Public Participation Network (LPPN) recently held an outdoor event called A Ramble at the Rock of Dunamase to continue its outdoor promotion of local attractions.

The tour of the Rock of Dunamase was led by Experiencing Ireland CEO and tour guide Trudy Carmody.

Over a dozen people attended the event which was organised by the LPPN and Catherine Casey of the Heritage Department at Laois County Council.

Resource worker at LPPN Dan Bergin welcomed people on the tour. 

“The Rock of Dunamase is one of the iconic heritage sites in Laois. It’s very well known from a landscape point of view and by people passing but they mightn’t know the rich history and importance of this attraction.”

"Handing over to the knowledgeable tour guide Ms Carmody she outlined the Rock’s history in detail at the foot of the heritage site before the tour began.

“The first mention of the Rock of Dunamase was in 120ad when Greek cartographer Ptolemy first mapped Ireland. In the centre of that map the Rock is referred to as dunum," said Trudy.

“As we go up try to picture what it would have been like trying to attack or take the Rock under siege in the twelfth or thirteenth century during its heyday. It was a fort or a stronghold 1900 years ago but wouldn’t have been what we see now. It may have been a wooden fort, but a fortress nonetheless.

“In the Main Hall, there was always a fire going with a pig on the spit being turned by children for up to 12 hours at a time. There were two rules. They couldn’t leave and they couldn’t pee too close to the fire.” she said.

The information-packed tour lasted for around 90 minutes and various medieval features which were used in constructing the Rock were pointed out along the way. These included the huge holes for the hinges of the outer barbican gates, the murder hole above the main entrance where heavy objects could be dropped down on enemies as well as the strategic arrow-slit windows.

The talk included Viking occupation in 833ad, Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169 when Diarmuid McMurrough King of Leinster gifted the Rock to his daughter Aoife and her husband Richard de Clare aka Strongbow up until the Rock returned into the Irish hands of the O’Moore Chieftains in1350.

The Rock of Dunamase overlooks seven counties including Laois and people could be seen coming from miles away.  

A 3D model of the Rock of Dunamase is displayed at Heritage House Abbeyleix. Everyone received a gift of Arnold Horner’s book Mapping Laois after the event and local coffee and eats trailer Rural Vagabonds provided refreshments.

Over 600 groups are part of LPPN. Other groups can join by emailing LPPN provides various training and opportunities to join future events.

Experiencing Ireland is on Facebook, twitter and Instagram and Trudy Carmody can be contacted by e-mailing

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