Black Castle in Leighlinsbridge, Ireland was founded c.1181 by Lord Hugh de Lacy to defend the strategic crossing of the River Barrow after taking the surrounding lands from Irish clans.
It was after the Norman Invasion of Ireland, that Lacy, an Anglo-Norman landowner, was granted the Kingdom of Meath by the then king of England, Henry II, something not accepted by Tighearnán Ó Ruairc, King of Bréifne, who ruled Meath at that time. Ó Ruairc refused to concede and while parleying, a dispute ensued when a blow aimed at Lacy, missed and killed an interpreter. Lacy fled, and a little later Ó Ruairc was killed by a spear-thrust as he mounted his horse, he was then decapitated and his head displayed at Dublin Castle. With the grant of Meath now unopposed, additional lands in Leinster were given to Lacy who went on castle building spree – Black Castle being one of them.
In the early 1270s the Carmelites established a friary on a site near the castle and the river bridge was built c.1320. In 1543 the friary was suppressed, and three years later, Sir Edward Bellingham, Lord Deputy of Ireland, converted the friary into a three-storey tower house that became the military center for all of Leinster. A hundred years later the castle was destroyed by Cromwellian forces during the Irish Confederate Wars.
The fortified tower house is all that remains, a picturesque ruin lit by the evening sun against threatening thunder clouds.