Hill of Carbury

From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland 1906

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CHAPTER XVI....continued

Side-Nechtain.—The hill of Carbury in Kildare has a dim legendary history as a royal residence. It was anciently called Side-Nechtain [Shee-Nechtan], i.e. 'Nechtan's Shee or fairy-hill': showing that it was the site of one of those elf-mounds described at p. 106, supra. This Nechtan, according to the old documents, was king of Leinster, and also a poet. But the place contained a residence of a less shadowy kind: for on the north-west slope there are still two remarkable and very perfect military raths or forts. Near the base of the hill is Trinity Well, the source of the Boyne, the enchanted well that in old time burst up and overwhelmed Boand, Nechtan's queen. But in subsequent times the Christian missionaries—as in case of many another well (p. 164, above)—removed its heathenish character and associations, and dedicated it to the Holy Trinity. The Anglo-Norman De Berminghams, who took possession of the district, having an eye to something more substantial than Dedannan fairy palaces, took advantage of the selection of their immediate Milesian predecessors and built a splendid castle not far from the old Irish fortresses, near the summit, the ruins of which are now conspicuous for leagues round the hill.

Carbury Castle

FIG. 102. Carbury Castle, County Kildare (From a photograph).

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