Carlow Castle has a large rectangular three-story limestone keep with circular towers at each angle. The castle dates from the early 13th century. It was built by William Marshal the elder in the time period between 1207 and 1213 which he spent in Ireland. The castle in Carlow was the very first of its kind in Ireland.
The castle was handed over to the crown in 1306, granted in 1312 to Thomas Plantagenet, confiscated by the crown in 1537 as the landlords were absent, bought by the Earl of Thomond in 1616, changed hands multiple times until it was taken by Oliver Cromwell in 1650 but was later returned to the Earl of Thomond. In 1814 the castle was widely destroyed in an attempt to create more space for the conversion into a lunatic asylum with the help of explosives. Just the outer face of the west wall and the two neighbouring towers could be preserved.
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.