The lands of Roche and Castletown came into the Bellew ownership somewhere about 1402 when Sire John Bellew, Knt. obtained a grant of these lands which had been forfeited by James White. Evidently they had come from the de Verdon representatives to the Whites.

Built in 1472 by Richard Bellew to house is family in luxury, the family then went on to live here for two centuries. The castle went on to be owned my numerous other families, notably the Tippings and the Eastwoods, and the last public hanging in Dundalk took place in the grounds of the castle in 1851.

Also rumoured but not proven, St. Oliver Plunkett apparently took refuge by hiding in the secret passageways when he was on the run for fear of being executed. He was executed however and his head is still on display just a half hour away in Drogheda. The house was purchased by the Sisters of St. Louis in 1950 when the bought the land to build the school.

The castle itself is large, rectangular structure, which stands at roughly 20.4 metres in height. It is a strong, four-storeyed, rectangular edifice with square turrets projecting at each corner. These towers rise to 16 feet above the main building. The whole of the building is made of rough, limestone blocks. The castle remains in very good condition, although Tempest and O’Connell noted in 1943 that cracks were beginning to form in the north-western corner tower, and in the adjoining wall of the main building [8]. That said, seventy-three years later, the castle still stands as strong as ever.

According to the school’s website, “the original castle had four stories but an extra storey was added when renovation work took place in the early 1950’s. One of the towers includes a spiral stairwell and another an interesting garderobe or medieval toilet facility” [9]. Originally, the only opening to the castle was the small arched doorway on the south wall, which could be protected from a platform just above it. The interior of the castle includes some “secret” stone stairwells, which connected the turret rooms with those immediately above them.

By the 17th Century, the Bellew connection with the castle had ended and it was left almost in ruins. A more modern house, commonly known as Castletown House, was built next to the castle by Edward Tipping. This was the house which was purchased by Sr. Jeanne D’Arc, Sr. Hildegard, Sr. Dympna and Sr. Therese in 1949, and became the Convent house, and the first iteration of St. Louis Secondary School, Dundalk.

Currently, the doors of the castle remain locked and classes are not carried out within its walls, but this does not impinge on the centrality of the building to the culture of the school. The ground floor of the castle merges with the main school building on the right hand side, where access to the school oratory remains open. Younger students of the school are sometimes brought by teachers to view the inside of the castle, where they can sample a taste of living history and marvel in the exquisite views of the town of Dundalk and the County Louth countryside. Bellew’s Castle has now been named as a listed, historical building which deepens the school’s connection to the history of Ireland’s ancient East coast.