The Walshes were rooted in south County Dublin from the late fourteenth century. By the early 1600s members of the family had become actors in the theatre of war across Europe. These were times of almost endless turmoil. A constant stream of predicaments affected the lives of kings and queens, bishops and lords, men and women across the Continent.
Theobald Walsh of Carrickmines had not intended to defend his castle. The commander of the besieging forces, Sir Simon Harcourt, had not planned to attack it. Yet in March 1642 the castle was destroyed and hundreds of its occupants massacred. How did this come to pass?
Carrickmines had a simple beginning as an isolated habitation in a relatively fertile river valley. Once the settlement found itself on an emerging frontier in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, its character, and the lifestyle of its occupants, fundamentally changed.
Over five centuries Carrickmines would evolve from an open settlement to a defended farmstead, a fortified border outpost and a wealthy manorial centre. The Walsh family were established by the late fourteenth century. Their holdings would expand to Shanganagh, Kilgobbin and Balally in south County Dublin, and Old Court and Killincarrig in County Wicklow.
In the early seventeenth century Theobald Walsh, his father and other relatives soldiered on the Continent. The Walshes, like many other families from Ireland, were drawn by the opportunities available in the service of the Habsburg Empire. It was their misfortune that the wars would arrive at their own door. Sir Simon Harcourt, the besieger, was a veteran of the wars in Germany, Holland and Scotland, serving in the armies of both England and the embryonic Dutch state. His wife and confidante, Lady Anne, awaited his return in Oxfordshire. After two eventful days in March 1642, however, nothing would ever be the same again.