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Eas Géitine
Askeaton, The Square - - 1577358.jpg
The Square
Ireland adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 52°36′00″N8°58′38″W / 52.6001°N 8.9772°W / 52.6001; -8.9772 Coordinates: 52°36′00″N8°58′38″W / 52.6001°N 8.9772°W / 52.6001; -8.9772
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Limerick
 (2016) [1]
Irish Grid Reference R337503
Askeaton Castle and River Deel Askeaton Castle west view.jpg
Askeaton Castle and River Deel

Askeaton (Irish : Eas Géitine, Waterfall of Géitine, [2] also historically spelt Askettin), is a town in County Limerick, Ireland. The town on the N69, the road between Limerick and Tralee, is built on the banks of the River Deel some 3 km upstream from the estuary of the River Shannon.


Among the historic structures in the town are a castle dating from 1199 and a Franciscan friary dating from 1389. The castle was abandoned to the English in 1580 – its walls blown up by the fleeing defenders – after the fall of Carrigafoyle Castle during the Desmond Rebellions. Askeaton was a constituency in the Irish House of Commons represented by two members until the dissolution of the parliament in 1801

Desmond Castle

The focal point of the town is the Desmond Castle, which stands in the center of the town on a rocky island on the river Deel. This noble building has protected Askeaton since 1199, when the castle and its rights were given to Hamo de Valoignes, the Justiciary of Ireland between 1197 and 1199. In the Annals of Inisfallen, William de Burgo is recorded as having been granted the castle and estates by the king of Thomand, Dónal Mór.[ citation needed ]

in 1348 Maurice FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Desmond paid 40 shillings for the barony of Lystifti. The building that stands today dates from that time. The Earls of Desmond were to become a powerful presence in Munster, of whom it was proudly said that they had become 'more Irish than the Irish themselves' – they lived in the Gaelic manner, following the Brehon Laws, dressed in the Irish manner, spoke Irish, played Irish music and games, rode and hunted, and respected poets.

The family had generations of enmity with the MacCarthys to the south in Cork and Kerry, as well as with their bitter Anglo-Norman rivals, the Butlers, Earls of Ormond.

The earliest written reference to the castle appears in Leabhar nanCeart, in English The Book of Rights, compiled in the 15th century, in which the fort of Gephtine is mentioned as being reserved to the King of Cashel.

The Earls of Desmond, the FitzGeralds, held possession of the castle for over 200 years; it was the centre of their power, and they ruled Munster from it. The tragic Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Desmond, had a powerful stronghold at Askeaton in 1559.

The English tried to impose a policy of surrender on the Irish lords who rebelled and fought a war of defence across Munster. Gerald, known as The Rebel Earl, was popular among his followers, but as the atrocities of the English incursion grew unbearable they gradually abandoned him. Fleeing with a few retainers, on 11 November 1583 he was murdered by Moriarty of Castledrum, at Glenagenty, five miles east of Tralee at Bóthar an Iarlaigh. [3]

Sir Nicholas Malby unsuccessfully attacked the castle in 1579. Askeaton Castle was then occupied by Lieutenant Patrick Purcell of the confederate Catholics. The English saw Askeaton as a threat while it was under Catholic rule. It was destroyed by the Cromwellian captain Daniel Axtell in 1652; he hanged Patrick Purcell. (Executions seem to have been a theme in the life of Axtell; captain of the Parliamentary Guard at the trial of King Charles I at Westminster Hall in 1649, shortly after the Restoration in 1660 he himself was hanged, drawn and quartered as a regicide.)

The murderous Lord Justice Sir William Pelham then took possession. It was the end of the FitzGerald reign over Askeaton and Munster.

The castle was transferred to the ownership of the English crown under Captain Edward Berkley. [4]

Franciscan Friary

Franciscan friary Askeaton Abbey Front Side 2014.jpg
Franciscan friary

Gerald FitzGerald, 3rd Earl of Desmond, the legendary poet earl who is said still to sleep in a cave waiting to ride back on his silver-shod steed in Ireland's time of ultimate need, founded Askeaton Abbey in about 1389. It has cloisters with 12 arches on each side, an east window, mediaeval carvings, and a chapter room that is the final resting place of the martyrs Bishop Patrick O'Healy and Fr Conn O'Rourke.

On 9 October 1579, after failing to take Askeaton Castle, the English commander Sir Nicholas Malby attacked the town and burned the friary, killing most of the friars, some in a gruesome fashion, and wrecked the ancestral tombs of the Desmonds, in a mean-spirited attack to take revenge on the earl in his impenetrable fortress. Monks returned to the friary only in 1627 but the community did not reach its former numbers until 1642. The community again abandoned the site in 1648 when Cromwell's forces neared Askeaton, and did not return until the 1650s. The friary permanently closed in 1740. [5]

St Mary's Church

The present Catholic church was built in 1851, after the previous building near the Franciscan friary was totally destroyed by fire in 1847. It is built of local limestone and has stained glass windows. The window to the right of the transept shows the resurrection of Christ, and that on the left his ascension into heaven. In the centre of the nave are windows showing St Patrick receiving the two daughters of King Laoire, the King of Ireland, into the church, and Jesus with children, and over the main door of the church a window shows the Virgin Mary. Over the door is a statue of the Pieta. [6]

The Church of Ireland also have a church in the town, St Mary's, with a clergyman resident in Rathkeale. [7]

Hellfire Club

East of the castle are the remains of the Hellfire Club, an almost intact redbrick building built in 1740 (the same year the monks abandoned the nearby friary).

This bizarre secret society was founded in Dublin in 1735 by the Earl of Rosse, first Grand Master of the Irish Freemasons. It is one of two in Ireland (the other is outside Dublin). The Hellfire Clubs, throughout Ireland and Britain, were 18th-century clubs where rich men gathered to drink, gamble, and allegedly have mock crucifixions and homosexual orgies. [8]

Lurid rumours around Hellfire Clubs included visits by the devil and human sacrifice. These clubs popularised the combination of whiskey, butter and cream mulled by a red-hot poker known as "scaltheen". The club closed down by 1800. The façade of the building collapsed in the 1990s.[ citation needed ]

Community hall

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the community organisation Muintir na Tíre built a community hall for the parish. Built in a time of economic depression, it was constructed with voluntary labour of local people. It became a focal point in the social life of the town, used for dances and concerts and bingo. It replaced the library (which was too small) as a dance hall. It was also used as a national school while the new building was being built in 1962/63, and as a church when masses were held there during the 1977 refurbishment of St Mary's Catholic church.[ citation needed ]


The railway line that passes through the now closed Askeaton railway station was built by the former Limerick and Foynes Railway Company from 1856 to 1858, with the station opening on 12 May 1857. [9] The line between Limerick and Foynes had stations at Patrickswell, Kilgobbin, Adare, Ballingrane Junction (Rathkeale) and Askeaton. The railway line to Foynes passes north of the town, but Askeaton railway station was closed to passenger traffic on 4 February 1963 and freight on 2 December 1974, when the station closed. [9]

Trains for Foynes continued to pass through Askeaton until the line effectively lost all its freight services in 2000. In an interview on Limerick's Live 95fm on 18 April 2011, Kay McGuinness, chair of Shannon Foynes Port Company, said that they were confident that the rail link could be reopened.[ citation needed ] A subsequent campaign by the residents of Station Road focused on preventing Iarnród Éireann from removing the railway gates at the station. [10]

There plans to reopening the lines on time for 2027 Ryder Cup.


Páirc na nGael, is the pitch that has played to Munster football and hurling games until 1980's.

See also

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  1. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Askeaton". Central Statistics Office (Ireland) . Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  2. "Eas Géitine/Askeaton".
  3. Rowan, A. B. (1872). "The Last Geraldyn Chief of Tralee Castle". In Hickson, Mary Agnes. Selections from Old Kerry Records; Historical and Genealogical. London: Watson & Hazell. pp. 117–130. Originally published Kerry Magazine. May 1854.
  4. (Taken from a lecture by Anita Guinane, (Askeaton Civic Trust)
  5. "Askeaton Friary, Co. Limerick".
  6. "Askeaton Church". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  7. "Rathkeale & Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes".
  8. "Turtle Bunbury - Award-winning travel writer, historian and author based in Ireland". Archived from the original on 21 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  9. 1 2 "Askeaton station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
  10. "Station Road Residents Vow to Continue Campaign". Archived from the original on 3 July 2012.