The story of the Handcock family.

By V.W. Bro. John Symes  Prov. J.G.W.  South Connaught
W.M. Portland lodge No. 1037 - Province of Dorset,  E.C. - 2000
W.M. Shamrock lodge No. 101  Athlone - Province of South  Connaught - 2010 

Did you say Hancock?
This paper is not about the late comedian Tony Hancock, who starred with Sid James, Hattie Jacques and others in the famous half hour radio and later television shows. It looks at a group of people from within one family, who were based in the Athlone area, from the 17th Century onwards, whose rank and achievements in the Masonic Order can be seen by any of the brethren in the yearly Calendar and Directory. This is the Handcock family who were to produce a Deputy Grand Master who was previously Grand secretary, a Senior Grand Warden who had also been Grand Secretary, two other Grand Secretaries and two Provincial Grand Masters along with a close association with the local Shamrock Lodge No. 101 here in Athlone which would produce several Worshipful Masters over the space of 160 years.

How did it start.
The family were originally from Combe Martin, in the County of  Devon in the West of England, but William Handcock ( Senior ) was born in Ireland. The family had settled in the Athlone area and they were perfectly placed to take advantage of the situation that arose after the rebellion of 1642, Oliver Cromwell finally claimed a victory and returned to England, but left Ireland in a state of confusion. The victorious army numbering about 40,000 were owed wages, and because the paymasters were broke they were paid in land that had been confiscated from the local population who had supported the rebellion, who were in many cases banished or planted to Clare and Connaught. This was called the “ Plantation Period ” and wealthy English families who were already established in the area, were able to secure large tracts of land from these ex - soldiers at knock down prices, as they became homesick and wished to return to England.

William was able to add to the land he had already been awarded for fighting in and helping to finance the war. He was an M. P. in the first parliament after the Restoration in 1661 for Westmeath, he was a member of the Council of Connaught and appointed as the first High Sheriff of Longford and Westmeath.

By 1680 he is recorded as living in Athlone and the owner of 8,800 statute acres or 14 sq. miles, at this time he is granted a royal patent to erect a manor house at Twyford. When he died in 1705 he had acquired the foundation of the large estates that would make the Handcock family one of the main landowners and landlords in the Athlone area of Westmeath for many generations to come.


A hint of masonry.
Williams grandson who was also called William is recorded as living in the early 1720’s on his own demesne at Willbrook. I believe this could be significant as it seems likely that during this period many of the local gentry were forming early local militia from within their own tenant’s and estate workers, and from these, many of the early Masonic lodges were to be formed.

The earliest known mention of Masonry in the Westmeath area concerns lodge No. 22 which met in a tavern called “The Plough and Harrow ” at Willbrook, it operated from 1733 - 1801 when its warrant was cancelled by the Grand Lodge in Dublin. It seems no coincidence that the first lodge in the area should be at Willbrook, William had chosen to rename it in his own honour, when he changed it from its Irish place name “ Moidrome - The plain of the ridge”.  It seems likely that this early lodge was to come under the families patronage and possibly to provide many of those early members. The influence of the militia became so linked with local freemasonry in this period that it is recorded that every member of Mullingar lodge No. 433  was also a member of the Militia. And a descendent of his brother the Rev. Elias Handcock would also make his mark in Masonry while his two children the Very Rev. Richard Handcock ( 1712 - 1791 ) who lived at Twyford just North of Athlone and was dean of Achonry and Robert Handcock( 1712 - 1758 )  living in Northgate St. would see their children accept high offices in both public life and Freemasonry.  


William Handcock ( Cousin )M. P.   (1737–1794)
It does not make the story any clearer when both brothers should follow family tradition and decide to call their elder sons William, the older of the two cousins by over twenty years was born in Roscommon and would follow family tradition and go into Irish politics, After matriculating from Trinity College in Dublin, he was elected at the age of 22 to follow his father as M.P. for Athlone in the Irish House of Commons a post he was to hold for the next 24 years and also as Revenue Collector at Trim District on a salary of £100 per annum and later as Commissioner of the Board of Works on a further £400 per annum, while he also developed a keen interest in maintaining the emerging road network across the Midlands. He married Susannah Lloyd, on 9 October 1767 in Dublin and lived at Rockville Hall in Co. Roscommon and  maintained a house at Court Devenish in Athlone.

He is recorded as being a member of the Grand Masters lodge in 1778. In the early years of the Grand Lodge or Ireland (GLI), it became clear that there was a need for a forum in which the Grand Lodge of Ireland officers could meet. Accordingly, the then Grand Master, Lord Kingsborough constituted a discrete Lodge, without a number (as all other Lodges have a number), and without a Warrant, for the document of Constitution was to be sufficient authority for its existence. ( from G. L. I. website )

Just five years later he is recorded as being Grand Secretary ( 1783 ) and in what seems to be the practice of the day, the following year ( 1784 ) he became Junior Grand Warden, he was to hold this office for a second year before coming Senior Grand Warden in 1786. He  would not live long enough to see his son  the ( Rev. Robert Handcock DD 1770 - 1848 )  follow him as Grand Secretary from 1808 - 1819.


William Handcock ( Junior )( 1761 - 1839 )  M.P.   -   1st Baron Castlemaine 
The second William was born in Dublin in in 1761 ( 250 years ago ) after leaving Trinity College he was elected as M.P. for Athlone, in 1784 and took up his seat in the Grattan Parliament, a post he would hold until 1803. He initially spoke out very strongly against the Act of Union, but when offered a large bribe and a title he quickly changed sides, much to the consternation of his loyal followers who now saw him as a turncoat and a Judas. In 1812 William got his reward and was created the First Baron Castlemaine.

He decided that he needed a more suitable home and commissioned Richard Morrison to design it, he added to the existing house at Willbrook and ended up with a fine mock gothic styled castle which he now called by its original name, but in English“ Moydrum ”. The inside was finished in a very  modern style and consisted of over thirty rooms while the exterior had a large ornamental lake and extensively landscaped gardens surrounded by woodland in a private demesne of over 600 acres.   In 1822 as a reward for his continuing support of the  English Tory party he was made the 1st Viscount  Castlemaine but this title would die with him. After a long, successful and controversial Moydrum Castle just north of Athlone. Co. Westmeath.     life it came to an  end  in January of 1839 when a freak squall saw him fall from a window in the Castle to his death.

He was succeeded by his younger brother Richard Handcock the 2nd Baron Castlemaine, who had been a Captain of the Athlone Cavalry and later commander of the Athlone Yeomanry circa. 1800, and another of the family to hold the office of Sovereign for Athlone. When he joined his brother as the second M.P. for the town, it saw the two brothers see out the last few months of the Irish Parliament together,  But he would only outlive him by a short twelve months. as he died in 1840.


John Handcock M P - 1755 - 1786
He was born in 1755 into the by now high profile Handcock family, he was a descendant of the Rev. Elias Handcock who regularly officiated at services at St. Mary’s church in Athlone. and the son of another William Handcock, and he would continue the family tradition of going into Irish politics and Freemasonry, at what now seems a very young age.

He was only young when he joined the Grand Masters Lodge in Dublin On th 21st December 1774 and within two years would make his mark when he became Grand Secretary in 1776, even by his own standards this was to be an important year as he would also be entering the Irish House of Commons as M.P. for Philipstown in Kings County.  ( now  Daingean  in Co. Offaly ).

He was living in the Manor House in Lurgan and taking a keen interest in local affairs where he was a magistrate and serving on the committee of the N. East Agricultural Association of Ireland. But over the next two years his Masonic career would accelerate when in 1777 he would become Junior Grand Warden and in 1778  he would be Senior Grand Warden but the higher offices would elude him..

He was also undertaking a military career, where he was a Captain in the artillery and promoted to Major at Charles Fort, which is a Star Fort located on the water's edge, of Kinsale harbour, Co. Cork, it has  survived many battles down the years and it would continue to be used for many years as a army barracks.

His Masonic career would reach its summit when he was promoted to the office of Deputy Grand Master in 1783 and again in 1874. He served later as Lieutenant - Governor of Kinsale.


Richard Handcock - 3rd Baron Castlemaine 1791 - 1869The 2nd Baron was in turn succeeded by his then forty-eight year old son, also named Richard, he was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was a Tory MP for Athlone between 1826 and 1832, he had already made a name for himself in political circles and upon succession to the Barony he went on to become a member of the House of Lords as an Irish Representative Peer from 1841 to 1869.

Lord Castlemaine married Margaret, daughter of Michael Harris, in 1822. They had two sons and two daughters.

The late 1840’s were to prove to be a difficult period for the family, but more so for the Athlone area in general. In 1845 eight of his workers were lost when a ferry crossing Loch Ree capsized, and none of them being able to swim they were all drowned, shortly afterwards blight was found in the local potato crop and would soon spread across the rest of Westmeath, bringing with it hardship, emigration and death during the famine years.

He was a keen agriculturist and cattle breeder and was credited with bringing the Durham Shorthorn’s to Ireland. During this period the relationship between himself and his tenants would become more tense  but it would appear that on the social, community and human side that the Handcock family down through the years were fair to their tenants, involved in the community and were generous in the way they donated financial aid to local projects - particularly schools, and the charitable deeds that Lady Castlemaine did in Baylin and Benown were well recorded.

But in later years he would become more of an absent landlord, spending more time in England while leaving the running of the estate in the hands of his son the Hon. Henry Robert Handcock who was his agent  and Capt. Lorenzo Dundas his steward who was himself a Freemason who had been initiated in 1849 into lodge No. 101 Athlone and was installed as the Worshipful Master at the Festival to Celebrate St. John’s day on 27th June 1850, and who would be the first Excellent King of the Athlone Chapter No. 101 and would be a regular attendee and take a full and active role in the company of his son for many years.


The Handcock family and Athlone  Lodge No. 101.
It is after this troubled period that we see the first mention of the Handcock family in the Athlone Lodge No. 101 minutes ( although warranted in 1739 the extant minutes date from the time the new warrant was issued in 1810 ) Richard Handcock 3rd Baron Castlemaine is shown as being raised in an unknown at this time lodge in 1854 when he was already 66 years of age.

He came firstly as a visitor to lodge 101 Athlone with his son the Hon. Robert J. Handcock who is mentioned in the lodge minutes when it was -  Proposed by Bro. John Whitford and seconded by Bro. James Fair -

“ That the Honourable Robert J. Handcock be admitted a subscribing member of this Lodge.” -  he had been initiated 17.07.54. and raised on 04.09.54.

 Again it is not known where he was initiated but the  Hon. Robert Handcock became a very active force in the lodge and over the next 10 years would serve in all the offices and on all of the committee’s but never go through the chair.

This was a traumatic period for Baron Castlemaine who had himself now joined lodge 101, as the motion that was recorded in the minutes of the Emergent Communication of  June 7th 1858 show:

It was proposed by Bro. The Reverent James Moffat and seconded by Bro. George Dalton -

“ That the following address should be presented to Bro. Lord Castlemaine, and that the Lodge should proceed to Moydrum Castle to present it to his lordship.”

To the Right Honourable Richard Baron Castlemaine of Moydrum Castle. H. K. T.

We the Worshipful Master and other officers and brethren.

“ Members of the Lodge of Freemasons 101 established in Athlone and this day specially convened, having heard with regret of the atrocious attempt made upon your Lordships life in one of the principal streets of this town on Friday last, by a man named Kelly and rejoicing that by the overruling hand of providence, the attempt of the assassin was perturbed.”

It was proposed by Bro. John Whitford and seconded by Bro. James Fair and carried unanimously -

“ That the address presented to your Lordship from the brethren of the Lodge expressing of our brotherly love toward you, and the happiness they feel at your providential escape from the assassins knife. And in compliance therefore we most paternally beg to present to you this our brotherly address, and desire to express our deep abhorrence and detestation of the diabolical attempt to deprive your Lordship of life, and this Lodge of one of its most zealous and efficient members.
And we therefore desire to congratulate your Lordship and to express our heartfelt joy that it pleased the Author and Grace of all good. So to avert the hand of the murderer and to save you from accident and death, to the great delight of your Honourable House and the happiness of your Masonic Brethren. Who confidentially indulge to  hope of seeing the Lodge again favoured by your presence, and also to join in the Labours of the Craft for many years, thereby adding to the prosperity and happiness of our meetings. While we thus feebly express on the present occasion we cannot fail to observe the applicability of your family motto - Vigilante orate. ”

Lodge 101  AthloneRobert W. Fearon  W. Master, R.A.
7th June    1858on the behalf of the Lodge.

He had been walking down Church Street, still the main through road, when he was attacked by a former tenant armed with a large knife, with the help of his companion, a local Doctor they disarmed the assailant and handed him over to the local police, a shocking experience even in those turbulent times.

This is his reply again from the minutes -

Moydrum Castle. 7th June 1858.

The Worshipful Master and Brethren of Lodge 101, Athlone.

Worshipful Master and Brethren - I have received with the greatest gratification your most kind and flattering address, on my escape from the Knife of an assassin, in the principal street of the town of Athlone, on Friday last; and believe me I feel from my heart the sympathy expressed in it from the Brethren of Lodge 101.
I attribute entirely to a bountiful providence the failure of the attempt, which must, had it succeeded have brought inevitable death.
This warning ( as you have referred to my family motto) will, I trust , keep me on the watch, to be ready when It may please the lord to call me.
I have the honour to remain. Worshipful Master and Brethren, most truly your sincere friend and Brother,


The resolution and lord Castlemaine’s reply were published in the “ Athlone Herald”

Then from the minutes of the Stated Communication for Lodge 101 of  March 2nd  1859 just 9 months later:
“The Brethren of Lodge 101 deeply sympathising in the sad bereavement which it has pleased the Almighty God in his inscrutable wisdom, to have permitted to fall on our well beloved brother Lord Castlemaine by reaching for each in this world  from his heart and his presence, under truly melancholy circumstances in a distant land, his youthful and promising son the Honourable Henry Handcock, and animated by a true spirit of Masonic love and attachment .

We hereby offer through the Worshipful Master, in silence and in sorrow our heartfelt condolence in Brother Lord Castlemaine’s affliction, and pray that Almighty God  in his mercy may pour into the hearts of himself and his family the soothing balm of comfort and consolation.”

The Honourable Henry Handcock who was M.P. for Athlone in 1856 and was now serving as a Captain in the 44th Foot Brigade, when he was killed and eaten by a tiger in India on the 16th  December 1858.

Even after these two setbacks he was to continue with his Masonic career and on the 9th July 1859 Richard Handcock, 3rd Baron Castlemaine, was installed as Worshipful Master of The Shamrock Lodge No. 101 as it had been named in 1855, he remained active in the lodge for some years, but his world was coming apart as Ireland was gripped by a need for change, but he found it difficult to come to terms with this. He found his relationship with his tenants would now change for the worse and found that their respect towards him was gone forever. He resolved to take a more active role in suppressing, what he now saw as a revolt against the law and order of the country.

At this time he was to be further honoured in Masonry when he was appointed the first Provincial Grand Master of Meath on the 10th June 1869 when the Provincial Grand Lodge met at Caroll’s Hotel in Mullingar Co. Westmeath.  The Provincial Grand Lodge of Meath had been constituted by order of The Grand Lodge of Ireland on 2nd  April that year. In fact he would not remain long in office or get the chance to make a difference, as he was to die in London on 4th July 1869 at the age of 77.


Hon. George Handcock (1801 - 1867)
The Honourable George Handcock was born on the 19th April 1803 his father was Richard Handcock  2nd Baron Castlemaine a title he only held for one year prior to his death.  The Hon. Georges older brother Richard would secede to the title and Become the 3rd Baron Castlemaine, while he seems to have broken with family traditions and followed a life away from politics, the army or the church. It appears that his main business interests were in the emerging Railways. He was chairman of the Belfast to Ballymena Railway Company and On the Committee of the Great Hibernian Junction Railway Company. He was along with his brother the 3rd Baron Castlemaine very keen on the proposal to form a railway from the South to the North of Ireland commencing at Limerick and ending at Clones, a distance of some 122 miles, it would have created a hub around Athlone but was never built. He is recorded living at Millmount House, Randalstown Co. Antrim at the Northern end of Lough Neagh.

The house has been well preserved over the years and it has  become a handsome Georgian listed residence in three Millmount House, Randalstown - as it is today acres of screened grounds. He is recorded as being a  magistrate in 1931  and a member of the Committee of Revision of Valuation of the County of Antrim. And in 1865 as a member of the Committee set up to advise on the building of the new Masonic Hall at Molesworth Street                                                                                                                         
He was W. Master of the Acacia lodge No. 24 in Lurgan in 1855 and  would go on to be the Grand Secretary from 1858- 1867 inclusive. His time in office coincided with what we now call the Leinster era  he was deeply involved with the finishing of Grand Lodge and resolving the problems that had grown up from the way that Irish Past Masters were being treated by the Grand Lodge of England, where their status was not accepted on an equal basis. He was also occupied with the setting up of the Masonic Boys School and the organisation of Provincial Grand Lodges and their prospective Provincial Grand Masters. He had married Elizabeth Alicia French in February 1833,


Rev. Robert Handcock D. D.  ( 1770 - 1848 )
He was the son of William Handcock  ( 1737 - 1793 ) and would follow in many of his fathers Masonic footsteps. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin from 1887 and he went on to gain a  B.A. in 1791, an M.A. in 1800 and his D.D. in 1809. He had followed his father and joined the Grand Masters Lodge in 1795.

The Hibernian chronicle on 1 Jan 1795 reported: Robert Handcock, esq., of Marlborough St, Dublin, married Miss Bryanton of Frederick St, Dublin

He is recorded as being a minor canon and vicar choral of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin from 1811,

He was involved in the Masonic Girls School, It seems that the School moved to Gloucester Place in 1817 to be under the supervision of the rector of the parish who was the Rev. Robert Handcock. As the school grew it would move regularly over the coming years until it found a permanent home.
He became Grand Secretary in 1808 a post he would hold until 1819, it was quickly apparent that this was not going to be an easy passage - On the request of the Grand Lodge that he should appoint a deputy he arranged for Bro. William Francis Graham to fill the vacant post, this was an excellent choice which was approved by Grand Lodge and he would go on to hold it until 1826.

The records were in great disorder since his predecessor Alexander Seton, who had been appointed Deputy Grand Secretary of Ireland in 1801, and was removed from office in 1806 for misusing funds and exceeding his authority, he went to Ulster with most of the records, and archives along with some blank warrants to try and set up a rival Grand Lodge of Ulster.

He was a nuisance to the Rev. Robert Handcock throughout most of his time in office as he tried in vain to get the Grand Lodge archives returned to Dublin. But they have never been recovered, but the records from his time in office are easy to access to this day and were meticulously kept.


Albert Edward Handcock - 5th Baron Castlemaine.
He was born in 1863 at East Hill in Athlone and went on to be educated at Eton College, he then went to Christ Church College, Oxford, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1885. His chosen career was to be in the British Army as his forebears had, and he joined the 4th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as aLieutenant. He inherited the Barony from his father Richard Handcock 4th Baron Castlemaine on his death in 1892. Albert Edward Handcock was just 29 years old and had been out of the army for just a year, he decided that he would enjoy the lifestyle that his large inheritance, an income from over 12,000 acres allowed him. On  the 25th  September 1895, he married Annie Evelyn Barrington in what was one of the society weddings of the year, they quickly settled to life in Moydrum castle and were to take part in socialising on the grand scale in Westmeath, Dublin and England, he particularly enjoyed sailing on nearby Loch Ree, where his predecessors had built a lodge on Hare island. He was an Irish Representative Peer from 1898 and served as Lord Lieutenant of County Westmeath from 1899 until the  Irish Free State Constitution Act in 1922.

The Irish War of Independence was beginning to erupt, local I.R.A. activities were mainly targeted at the R.I.C. barracks as they were abandoned, and stockpiling guns and ammunition and Baron Albert Edward Handcock decided to evacuate his wife and daughter to Dublin. Although he had not been over worried he now saw the attacks escalating and several large houses in Westmeath were set on fire and burnt down, he returned to Moydrum in mid 1920 but decided things were quieter and spent the winter at Cannes in the South of France.

By 1921 the War of Independence was at its peak and would now be felt in the Athlone area, as a result of some local cottages being set on fire by the British Army, the local I.R.A. was told to burn a similar number British owned ones by their H.Q., so it was decided that Moydrum castle would be targeted, set on fire and destroyed. Along with other British landed aristocrats, the Castlemaine family were no longer seen in a positive way and their 250 years of power in the Athlone area was to meet with a violent end.

Early on Sunday morning July 3rd 1921 a group of the local I.R.A. arrived at the castle, Lord Castlemaine was away in England so only his wife, daughter and their servants were at home, they were given time to remove their personal possessions, plus a few family heirlooms and then the Castle was set on fire.  

By the morning nothing remained other than the ruins that can  still be seen. The compensation amounted to over £100,000 sterling but he would not return to rebuild Moydrum, in 1924 he sold
A photo of the ruins of Moydrum Castle called the  remainder of the estate to the Irish Land 
“ The Twilight Hour” by Simon Marsden. Commission where it was split up among the local  community. Albert Edward Handcock is shown as being a member of Masonic lodge No. 12 Dublin when he is proposed for Affiliation into the Shamrock lodge No. 101 Athlone. He is recorded  as being W. Master  of lodge No. 12 Dublin in 1926. From the Shamrock Lodge  No. 101 minutes of Sept 19th 1917 - it was proposed by Bro. J. Burgess and seconded by Bro. Harris - Temple -
“ That Bro. Albert Edward Handcock - 5th Baron Castlemaine be placed on the books of the lodge for the usual time previous to ballot for affiliation ”

He was installed as W. Master of Shamrock Lodge No. 101 0n the 25th April 1921 as the Lodge minutes show “ A conclave of Past Masters was formed and Bro. The Right Honourable Lord Castlemaine Worshipful Master Elect being present was installed as Worshipful Master for the year 1921”, although many reports say he was an infrequent visitor to Ireland he would become Provincial Grand Master for South Connaught in 1929 and remained in post until his death in 1939.


Gerald Stretford Handcock.
Son of John S. Handcock and a descendant of the Rev. William Henry Handcock of Carrintrilly who many years earlier had presented to the town of Tuam, at the rent of one shilling a year the site to build  their cathedral.

The site of the new Town Hall was donated by Mrs. Catherine Kelly Handcock at a nominal rent. And his mother Mrs. Gerald S. Handcock laid the foundation stone in 1855.
Major Gerald S. Handcock is recorded in the minutes as a visitor to lodge 101 in early March 1921, and in the May minutes of the same year Bro. Baile proposed and Bro. Poole seconded  -

“That the name of Brother Gerald S. Handcock a retired Major of Newtown Terrace, Athlone be placed on the books for the usual time prior to ballot  ”

He was at that time a member of The St. Paul’s lodge No. 2277 Cyprus, English Constitution, the lodge is still operating at the Masonic Rooms, Jerusalem St. Limassol, Cyprus.
He was installed into the office Worshipful Master of the Shamrock Lodge No. 101 Athlone in 1930 when he followed his cousin Albert Edward Handcock 5th Baron Castlemaine who was now the P.G. M. of South Connaught into the chair.

The Roscommon Handcock’s Carrowntryla estate and house was situated at Dunmore, alongside the now N. 83 between Tuam and Ballyhaunis, in it’s hey day  it was in the region of 9,500 acres, but most of the estate was sold off in the 1870’s to pay debts, and when Major Gerald Stratford Handcock acquired it and brought it back into the family in 1928, all that remained was the house and 100 acres.

This part of the Handcock family shared a common ancestor with the Barons Castlemaine and both the father and grandfather of William Handcock were clergymen.

The house and grounds passed onto his niece - Mrs. Voss, but the house no longer exists as it was acquired by a developer from Galway, Mr. Hector Mc Donnell and demolished to allow for new building.

I have tried to present a balanced picture of the Handcock family and their achievements in Irish Freemasonry, there is no doubt that the majority of those early offices were only available within a certain clique of Anglo Irish landed class members, where who you were was the main criteria for office.

There are no doubt many more relatives bearing the Handcock name who have joined Irish Freemasonry, but I have concentrated on those in the Blue Book or those who have an obvious affinity with the Shamrock Lodge No. 101 here in Athlone.

The local picture of the family is as you would expect, it depends on who tells the story - were they  caring and benevolent, landlords keen to offer financial support to good causes and be benefactors within the local community or were they rich Protestant vacant English landlords who came over in the Summer for some hunting, sailing and fishing, quite happy to see their tenants impoverished on farms that were worked out, not showing any concern as long as the rent was paid, but should it not be, they were quite happy to evict them, and put them on the street.  Who Knows. 

That they reached high and distinguished office within Irish Freemasonry is not in doubt.


                         Moydrum Castle
The castle ruins was used for the cover of the Irish rock band U2's fourth studio album, released in 1984 

The Unforgettable Fire.

The cover photo was taken by photographer Anton Corbijn, it was very similar to a picture on the cover of a 1980 book: In Ruins: The Once Great Houses of Ireland by Simon Marsden, Which I have used in the text.  U2 ended up paying compensation for the use of it. The photo by Anton Corbijn was taken in the same spot and used the same polarising filter technique, but with the addition of the four band members. It is not legally possible to walk among the ruins today but the view from the road is good, and many U2 fans turn up from around the world in the summer months to see it.


1. Athlone History and Settlement to 1800 by Harman Murtagh.
2. Westmeath Independent - Athlone Miscellany by Geroid O’Brien.
3. Southwest Farming folk by Jeremiah Sheeans.

www. / History / Moydrum
the / wiki / Moydrum


William Handcock ( 1737-1739 ) M.P. for Athlonedetail from a commemorative monument in St. Mary’s Athlone. ( Photo. By P. J. Murray )

Richard Handcock, 4th Baron Castlemaine