Fagan's Gate Revisited

FagansGateI wrote to the folks who take care of Saint Audoen's Park in Dublin earlier this month (January 2012). We had a very nice exchange if information about Fagan's Gate & Fagan's Tower.

Sean Redmond, the Executive Parks Superintendent has charge of Saint Audoen's Park, and did not realise that one of the gates to the park was called Fagan's Gate. He provided a picture of Fagan's Gate, which was constructed in the 1980s. It's known as Fagan's gate as Fagan's Castle/Tower was located near this site. He attached a study of Saint Audoen's, and asked the City Archaeologist, Ruth Johnston, to send more detailed information.

Ms. Johnson then sent a map of the medieval walled circuit with Fagan's Gate marked on it. You can download it here. (Look for feature #14 - Fagan's Tower)

The Dublin Historic Towns Atlas Vol.I records it as follows:

"Fagan's Tower John Dillon Street E. Richard Fagan's Tower, round outside the city wall and square inside, 32ft high, walls 2ft thick 1585 (Circuit). Probably North Wall excavated (Coughlan, Tim, The Anglo-Norman houses of Dublin', in Duffy (ed.) Medieval Dublin 2000, 229-30)."

Gilbert's History of Dublin refers to a building called Fagan's Castle in Page's Court during the 14th century.

The 1585 reference is a measured survey carried out for the Lord Deputy, John Perrot, which describes the walls and towers, ditch & ramparts of the walled circuit in detail with measurements. This is in the state Papers for Ireland. It records that the distance between Sedgraves and Fagan tower as 90 foot and that between Fagans tower and Newgate as 120 feet. Fagans tower is neither vast nor lofty. There is a way going up onto the top and measuring 10ft square at the top, with a garret and 5 loops in the way up. It is described as 2ft thick besides the thickness of the stairs. It is described as being in Mr Fagan's possession.

Ms. Johnson also added comments from premier historian Professor Howard Clarke on the subject,

"There seem to be two Fagan sites. One is the mural tower included in Perrot's survey, otherwise known as the Watch Tower, south of Newgate. The other is a gate in the original (inner) north wall west of St Audoens' Arch and linking Cornmarket with Cook Street. In Paddy Healy's catalogue ('Medieval Dublin', ed. Clarke, vol. 1, p. 190) it is stated to have been in Page's Court and that both passage and gate were still standing in 1788 (source not cited). But Rocque's map (1756) shows both Purcels Court and Padgets Alley as parallel lanes in that location, with a house blocking the lower (Cook Street) end in each case. I am not sure whether Paddy got this right. In any case, it would seem that the subject needs investigation. Archaeologically the whole lot is presumably buried underneath St Audoen's Park."

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I'd like to give my thanks to all who responded so quickly and with a wealth of information. It appears that in the 1980s a NEW Fagan's gate was put in place near the spot where Fagan's Castle once stood.