Naul Village

Naul is a village in Fingal, Co. Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. The name also extends to the area of townlands surrounding the village as far south as Hollywood Rath, and to the North at the River Delvin marking the northern boundary of Fingal and on into County Meath. The village is a crossroad between the R122 and the R108. The R108 is the old Dublin to Drogheda road and was a link between the Port of Drogheda and Dublin City, while the R122 travels from Finglas in the south to Balbriggan.

The name 'Naul' is anglicised from the Irish 'An Aill' meaning 'The Cliff' as there is a substantial cliff on either side of the River Delvin just outside the village. Locally, the village is still known as The Naul as a throwback to the original Irish name.

On the cliff, stands the ruins of Naul Castle, also known as the 'Castle of the Roches' or 'the Black Castle'.

Naul Castle, by Robert O'Callaghan Newenham. Lithographed by J.D. Harding

Naul Castle was constructed by the de Geneville family who built it before 1200AD "on a rocky precipice on the brow of a chain of hills commanding a fine view of the Vale of Roches, above which it towers at a height of 150 feet", as described by Samuel Lewis, who wrote a topographical history of the area in the 1830s.

There was also a 'White Castle', of which nothing now remains. Built in the 13th century, it was the home of Richard Caddell, whose descendants were evicted by Cromwell's forces. The 'White Castle' originally had inside stairs leading to the roof on which there was a powerful telescope. According to legend, Caddell watched the Bellewstown Races through the telescope, because he had had a disagreement with the race committee and vowed never to be seen in the area again. The Caddell family were still around in the 19th century, indicated by a monument known locally as Caddell's Folly, erected during the period by another Richard Caddell. The Irish Potato Famine of 1845-49 led to the building of 'Follies'. The society of the day held that reward without labour was misguided. However, to hire the needy for work on useful projects would deprive existing workers of their jobs. Thus, construction projects termed 'famine follies' came to be built. These include: roads in the middle of nowhere, between two seemingly random points; screen and estate walls and piers in the middle of bogs. 

Naul Cemetery by Frank Niepelt

The area is thought to have been occupied since the Stone Age as archaeological finds include numerous prehistoric earthworks, and the nearby megalithic chambered cairns at Fourknocks on the County Meath side of the village, discovered in 1949 on the lands of Thomas Connell. Four prehistoric tumuli, or mounds, were discovered. They contain a chamber wider than the one at Newgrange, and within the passage are stone engravings, indicating that the chambers were built about 4,000 years ago. Just inside the main chamber to the left of the entrance is one of the few representations of a human face from the Neolithic Period in Ireland.

In 1013AD, a year before he lost his life at the Battle of Clontarf, Brian Boru burned Naul, as part of his campaign against Norse settlements in the region. In 1052, the last king of Brega (East Meath), Maol na mBo, reputedly defeated Norsemen outside Naul in a field which later became known as 'the Camp Field' following the encampment of the Williamite army after their victory over James II in 1690.

"Its grey walls, here variegated with mossy streaks, here clothed in the livery of everlasting verdure, or checquered between with those picturesque weather-stains, which time only can shed over the works of man. A small lake formed here, and for which there is every facility, without much loss of good ground, would make this a truly enchanting scene." - From D'Alton's "History of the County Dublin."