Carlow Castle Dodge city it may not have been but with the county sheriff and his staff often forced into hiding, shades of what would happen in the wild west much later, were in evidence in Carlow, during the 14th century. Such were the frequency of attacks that public officials had to be paid bonuses to remain working in the town. Strategically placed on the edge of the Pale, Carlow Castle in particular was a prime target for many attacks and plundering escapades over the centuries. The main source of Carlow's troubles at the time was the decision, in 1361, to move the Exchequer from Dublin to Carlow. In anticipation of trouble, King Edward III agreed to spend £600 on shoring up the town walls. Frequent attacks were mounted by neighbouring hostile clans including the McMurroughKavanaghs, the O'Tooles, O'Byrnes, O'Lalors, and O'Moores. Most of the town was burned down during an assault in 1382. Decentralisation did not work and the Exchequer was moved back to Dublin twelve years later. Carlow Castle was one of the most impressive Norman castles built in Ireland, but no one really knows whether Hugh de Lacy or William Marshall deserves the credit - it hardly matters now because it was built sometime between 1180 and 1208. It is generally accepted to have been the earliest example of a four-towered keep in these islands - inspired directly by French examples. The best attacking efforts of James Fitzgerald in 1494, Silken Thomas in 1535, and Cromwell's General Ireton in 1650, failed to inflict anything more than a dent in this building with its 9ft wide walls and towers rising to a height of 60ft. But where armies floundered, the handiwork of a psychologist succeeded in demolishing almost two thirds of the castle. A Dr. Middlcton took possession of the building in 1814 with the intention of developing a lunatic asylum and believed he could gain valuable extra space by reducing the thickness of the walls. With that in mind he placed explosive charges at the base of the walls and the rest as they say is history. Only the western wall and two of the towers survived this piece of Sunday morning madness, and miraculously no one was killed or injured in the vicinity. Fintan O'Toole.