Dundrum Castle was, to all intents and purposes, an abject failure. It was constructed in the 1300s as an outpost of the Pale; the defensive outer perimeter designed to keep the unwashed native Irish out of Dublin. But Dundrum leaked like a sieve.
The castle was supposed to be a buttress against the indefatigable O'Byrne and O'Toole tribes, who swept down from the hills despite it, to pillage south and west Dublin for the guts of 500 years.
Under their forays to steal cattle (and whatever wasn't nailed down) from Clondalkin to Stillorgan, the castle gave way time and time again. Badly damaged, it had to be rebuilt in the 1590s by the FitzWilliams. They finally gave up and rehoused in 1642 at Baggorath Castle in the quieter and more refined lanes of Dublin 4. Here, as the Earls of Pembroke, they developed Ballsbridge. Had they held on, perhaps Dublin's best postcodes would be D14 and D16 today.
The castle did give the urban village its name. Dun Droma means 'the fortress on the ridge.' An 1802 sketch shows an elegant fortified dual tower house. At this point rented out, it had musket ports aplenty, which still peer out from the partial ruin remaining. The O'Byrnes and O'Tooles were still causing ructions even then. The following year, the clans were embroiled in Robert Emmet's attempt to capture Dublin Castle.
In the end, the British authorities had to build a 36-mile road to their Wicklow heartland to get the redcoats in to sort them out (The Great Military Road was completed in 1809 from Rathfarnham to Aughavannagh). This apparently worked.
At last, there was no need for a castle. So a grand house was built alongside it in the 19th century for Dr Arthur Goff and the castle was vacated. The new house was also named Dundrum Castle. As the requirement to shoot unexpected visitors morphed into the need to vet them, the Dundrum Castle Gate Lodge was constructed. The lodge we see today is also typical late 19th century- its characteristics share similarities to the Victorian workman's cottages on Dundrum's old Main Street.
The lodge was occupied by a gatekeeper and his family, whose job it was to receive callers and decide whether it was worth bothering the big house on their behalf. Invited guests got a formal escort to the main door from here, their carriage and horses taken care of. This, and general watchman's duty, was the lot of the gateman, who often kept a blunderbuss and one eye open at night just in case.
As the most publicly visible aspect of a wealthy individual's home, gate lodges were often elaborately finished despite being some of the smallest houses around. This one is a reasonable 786 sq ft. Dressed in red brick and cut stone with a slate roof, it has some of the neo Tudor detailing that was popular in the late 1800s.
The property is situated at the start of the Ballinteer Road, off the Barton Road East roundabout and near the modern Dundrum Town Shopping Centre.
In recent years, it has been extended and modernised whilst retaining original features like its sash windows. Its 700-year-old boundary wall is part of the original castle moat and perimeter wall. An archaelogical dig in the 1980's at the castle site uncovered an elaborate drawbridge, a moate and a human skull with the cranium sawed off.
The lodge's entrance hall runs into a 168 sq ft living room with an extra high ceiling and a period style cast-iron chimney piece. This leads through to the fitted kitchen/dining room with cream painted timber units and there are sliding doors to the rear garden.
A double bedroom is accessed from the living room and has dual aspect windows. The main bedroom is a large double with a guest shower/wc wet room and its own walk-in wardrobe. There's a south facing rear garden and patio with off-street parking to the side, and a decent sized storage shed.
It came to market briefly two years ago, but was withdrawn. Today, it's back with Sherry FitzGerald (01-2961822) seeking €575,000; comparable to the price of good two-bed apartment in the area.
Since the big house was demolished in the 1990s, The Gate Lodge and the broken shell of the castle are all that survive of the centuries-long struggle to hold Dublin's line at Dundrum.
These days the Dundrum Centre is regularly over run with swag-hauling shop raiders that steam in here from surrounding counties; O'Byrnes and O'Tooles among them.