543 Year Old Store-Rooms
In contrast to the largely roofless shell of the manor-house, you are now inside a vaulted, cavern-like double chamber.
Stone by stone, the bare walls curve
seamlessly up around you into Gothic-like intricate
ceilings. The walls here are more than three meters
deep in places.
An old ship's mast and sail, with barrels
Underfoot is a
perfect, smooth, paved stone floor. Narrow windows sit deep in the walls.
This intriguingly atmospheric part of Donegal castle is
more than 540 years old - it dates back to 1474.
Another store-room image
Moving in the direction of the stairs you notice, among other items, a mast from an old ship. Its once white sail is now yellow with age.
During the reign of the O'Donnell Celtic Chieftains, Donegal Town was a thriving center of international commerce.
Ships transported cargoes to the bustling wharf near the castle, and delivered barrels full of locally caught fish from there to northern Europe.
543 Year Old Trip Stairs
Now you face the trip stairs . . . mind how you go!
amazing spiral stairway, built of stone, was designed to give the
O'Donnell Chieftain a few strategic advantages during combat...
The Trip Stairs
- The steps are uneven and vary in height, to trip the unsuspecting assailant - hence their name!
- The steps are narrow, so potential invaders would have to ascend in single file, making it easier to overpower them.
- The stairway turns clockwise going up. That gave the right-handed
O'Donnells more leeway while sword-fighting defensively downwards. It
also forced any potential invader to either sword-fight with his left
hand, or awkwardly maneuver his sword around the stairwell's solid central axis.
You'll appreciate the handrails, a modern concession to safety!
The Upper Floors
Having mastered the trip stairs, you are now in the castle's lovely bright banqueting hall.
From this level up, considerable restoration works have been conducted.
The Banqueting Hall
Of particular note here are two 17th century Jacobean features...
- A large fireplace bearing the Brooke family arms
- The pretty bay window
French tapestry and Persian rugs soften the walls.
The stuffed head of a wild boar suggests what might have been on the banqueting menu... mmm!
Climbing another flight of stairs, you are now on the top floor. This is where you get to explore the castle's fascinating history.
Take the time to examine the displays, learn about the powerful O'Donnell Celtic dynasty that lived here, and enjoy surveying the scale models of the castle.