History of Skryne

The castle was built sometime between 1172 and 1175. The de Feipos family held the Barony until the close of the 1300s when an heiress carried the title to the Marwards, who were Barons of Skryne until the 1600s, when the title died out. After this the castle seems to have fallen into disrepair. It was restored early in the 1800s when the present house was built around the old keep, the thickness of the walls proclaiming the age of the ancient tower.

Columcille has given his name to numerous holy wells in Meath. Saint Columcille’s Well is near the old ruins of a monastery on the Hill of Skryne. Most of the people living in the area up to the early 1960s drew water from it. The story goes that relics of the saint were brought to the monastery in Skryne on their way to Armagh, and that they reposed in a shrine in the old monastery here.

Although the story may not be historically accurate, it preserves the essential connection between Columcille and the monastery of Skryne. The Irish word scrín is from the Latin scriniuman ornamental box or casket in which the relics of a saint were preserved. The English form is shrine. These shrines were common in Ireland, and some still preserved in the National Museum are of the most beauti­ful design and workmanship in gold, silver and coloured enamels. The church which housed a famous shrine would be named after it. The Church of the Shrine of Adamnan gives its name to the parish of Skreen in Sligo, and Skryne in Meath is named for the church once called Scrín Cholumcille.

In the 1990s, the castle was rented by Elizabeth Hickey, a well-respected Irish historian and has been described as a high achiever. She managed somehow to go to Alexandra College in Dublin and from there to work her way through Trinity College, graduating in 1938. Elizabeth Hickey came to view the castle one Saturday afternoon with Mr Counihan, the auctioneer for the owners. Mr Counihan didn’t have a key, no wonder, the front door lock was massive, and the key weighed about two pounds, so they climbed in through the coal house, into the courtyard, through the greenhouse and were in at long last.

The rent for the castle, which included some five acres of what were described as mature grounds, a garage and some sheds, was £4 per week. They both stayed working and commuting to Dublin with Granny and helpers minding the children, but the rent and the travelling proved too much. My mother appealed to the landlord and had the rent reduced to £1 per week and had permission to keep PGs (paying guests) written into the lease – this was to prove very useful later.

The upstairs drawing room is the place most associated with The Ghost of Skryne Castle, written so much about by ghost writers. The Hickey family remember winter nights when they sat downstairs in the kitchen and regularly heard footsteps crossing the drawing room floor above, to and from the tower, knowing there was no one up there. As they became a little older – and braver they did investigate and so too did the ghost story writers who came from Ireland and abroad. Terrible Tales from Ireland by Sara Gilbert is one, True Encounters With the World Beyond by Hans Holzer is another and most distinguished is; Living With Ghosts, The Ghost of Skryne Castle by Michael of Greece. Michael of Greece came to the castle several times while researching his book and became good friends with Elisabeth Hickey.




Located in Tara in the Meath region, Skyrne Castle is a castle boasting a terrace and garden views, 35 km from Dublin.


Skryne Castle, Tara, Meath, Ireland

C15 CVY0



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