Built in 1832 by John d’Arcy, Abbeyglen Castle was shortly after leased to the then parish priest as ‘Glenowen House’. The castle was later purchased for use as a Protestant orphanage by the Irish Church Mission Society. Here girls would have been trained for domestic service. In 1953, the orphanage became a mixed orphanage until 1955, where it closed due to financial difficulties. The castle fell derelict and was home to livestock for some time. The castle was then purchased by Padraig Joyce of Clifden and become a hotel. The castle continued to operate as a hotel after the Hughes family took over in 1969 and still remains a prestigious hotel to this day.
Lying south east of Loughrea, Aille Castle was a tower house held by MacWilliam Roe Burke in 1574. The tower house stands over 40 feet tall and consists of square bartizans in the north and south west corners. The tower house also features slit windows which were common from the 15th century while the larger ogee headed windows date from late medieval age. The castle is now laying dormant and in ruins.
Anbally Castle or Tavenagh Castle as it was formerly known, was a 15th century castle and bawn of the Burke family. The name Anbally translates from the Irish ‘An Bhaile’ meaning ‘great town’. Although now in ruins, there are remanis of a spiral staircase within. Unusually, in the wet winter month, the castle is completely surrounded by water by a nearby turlough.
Annaghdown Castle is a restored tower house on the shores of Lough Corrib. Although there is little known about the Castle, research from it’s owners brought to light some interesting facts. The castle is a 15th century Norman style tower house with carbon dating samples dating back to 1440. It was originally believed that the Castle was either built by the De Burgo family or the the O’Flaherty Clan but it had been discovered that the castle was in fact built for an Anglo-Norman bishop who was backed by the De Burgo’s.
Thought to be Ireland’s oldest example of a Castle built entirely from undressed stone, Annaghkeen Castle is a late 13th century hall-house built by the De Burgo family. In order for the De Burgo family to defend their Manor of Headford from rival attacks by the O’Flaherty Clan across the Corrib, the Castle Cargin stands within close vicinity. In 1574, the castle was held by Moyler McReamon, a descendant from the Burke family.
Ardamullivan Castle is a restored tower house consisting of six storeys. Although there is no history of the exact date of when the castle was built, it is believed it was built in the 16th century as it was first mentioned in 1567 due to the death of Sir Roger O’Shaughnessey who held the castle at the time. Sir Roger was succeed by his brother Dermot, ‘the Swarthy’, known as ‘the Queen’s O’Shaughnessy’ due to his support shown to the Crown. Dermot became very unpopular among the public and even among his own family after he betrayed Dr Creagh, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, who had sought refuge in the woods on O’Shaughnessy territory. Tensions came to a boil in 1579, when John, the nephew of Dermot, fought with Dermot outside the south gate of the castle in dispute over possession of the castle. Both men were killed in the fight. After this period the castle fell into ruin until in the last century where it was restored to it’s former glory.
Ardfry Caslte dates to approx. 1770 and was built by Joseph Blake, member of the famous Blake Family, who later gained the title of Lord Wallscourt. Ardfry was designed as a two-storey house with nine bays but was later renovated in 1826 to include gothic features and became adjoined to an earlier medieval castle on the lands. The Wallscourt title became synonymous with the house where the Wallscourts lived there until the second wife of the fourth Earl gambled away all the family money. It was told that she even sold the lead of every roof on the estate in order to feed her gambling problem. The house fell to ruins and in 1922 the Wallscourt title became extinct. However in 1950, three granddaughters of the fourth Earl were successful in legally reclaiming the house. They were known locally as the three gay mice who lived in an outhouse close to the ruins. In later years, Ardfry House was used in the Paul Newman film, The Mackintosh Man, where the house was temporarily rebuilt and then burnt, destroying many internal features which remained.
Believed to belong to the O’Heynes family, Ardrahan Castle was a tower house dating back to around 1250 in the 13th century. It was believed that the remains of the keep were built upon earlier earthwork. It was believed the castle later became a manor for the Norman FitzGerald family. The castle is very much in ruins with only part of a standing wall remaining.
Arkin’s Castle was believed to have been built in the 16th century and potentially belonged to the O’Brien family originally. In 1574, James Lynch was in possession of the castle which later passed hands to John Rawson in 1594 and Teige na Buille O’Flaherty in 1607. However, in the 1650’s the castle became occupied by troops of Oliver Cromwell and was eventually demolished to make way for a Cromwellian Fort. Unfortunately none of the original castle survived. A plan of the fort showed a rectangular structure with two square towers on the seaward side and two circular towers to landward. The remains of the fort consist of a large portion of the north wall, a small tower in the south east corner and the remains of the water gate to the north.
Athenry Castle was built by Meiler de Bermingham in 1250 and holds strong links with the medieval walled town of Athenry. It is believed that the oldest part of the castle is the hall-keep which was accessed by the only original entrance which could only be reached by external wooden stairs. The hall was the official and ceremonial reception room of the castle. It was believed that Meiler de Bermingham was granted a charter for the land from Richard du Burgo (Burke) for a castle to be built to protect the crossing point over the Clareen River. It is understood that the castle went through some transformations in the 15th century to add new features to the castle such as the basement which could only be accessed by a trap door. The castle came under attack by the O’Donnells in 1597 and laid to ruin for nearly 400 years before the office of public works went about its restoration work.
Aughanure Castle is a 16th century tower house built by the O’Flaherty family, one of Connacht’s most notable families at the time. Aughanure translates to “the field of the yews” from the Irish, Achadh na nlubhar. The O’Flaherty’s possessed the castle until 1572, where it was then captured by Sir Edward Fitton, the then president of Connacht. The castle was in recognition of ‘The Crown’ and was used to blockade Galway during the Cromwellian invasion. Shortly after, the castle was handed over to the Earl of Clanrickard where it was then eventually reclaimed by the O’Flahertys. The castle also passed hands to Lord St George as part of a foreclosure of a mortgage. The castle itself stands on a rocky island and is a well-preserved example of an Irish tower house featuring the remains of a banqueting hall, a watch tower, an unusual double bawn and bastions and a dry harbour. Outside the castle are two courtyards, one which is an original courtyard and one which would have been added at a later period. The castle has a well-known fable that it once consisted of a trap door where unwelcome guests could be dropped into the river flowing below the courtyard.
Built by the Norman family, the de Burgos between 1450 and 1500, Ballinderry Castle was a moated castle built on the shotes of a lough that has since disappeared. In 1592, the castle was taken over by the O’Donnell family but only remained in their possession for a number of months before being taken by Lord Grey for the Crown. The castle later was took over by Cromwellian troops. After this period, in 1659, Ballinderry Castle was given to the Nolan family who had lost 20,000 acres of their land in Galway and in exchange received the castle. In the 19th Century the family erected a manor and left the castle. It is believed that the nationalist, Charles S. Parnell stayed at the Castle during the time of the Nolan family. The last military use of the castle was as a British outpost during the troubles. The castle ground floor would have been used for storage while the floor above it was the guards’ quarters. The third floor was the kitchen which the remains of a large fireplace can be seen. The next floor consisted of a suite of two rooms with the larger having a fireplace and the upper floor consisted of the largest room within the castle which also had a fireplace. Banquets would also have been held in this master room. Lastly, the castle features an unusually-decorative and slightly-damaged Sheela-na-gig over the main entrance. The Sheela-na-gig has ttwo long plaits or braids in her hair, each twisted into a different pattern, with a rose, a bird, a very Irish marigold and two kinds of triskele surrounding her.
Ballindooly Castle is a restored Norman tower house believed to be from the late 15th century. The castle is presumed to have been built by the De Burgo (Burke) family. Redmond Regough Burke was the owner at the time of the first written record of ownership of the castle. In the 1916 uprising, the castle was shelled by the British gunboat Helga. In 1989, after been vacant for near 200 years, the castle was restored to its current grandeur along with some modern features in order to allow the castle to be lived in. If you want to get a real sense of history the castle is available to stay in.
Ballinduff Castle is a 14th century tower house believed to have been built by the De Burgo family. The castle is first recorded as being held by Thomas MacHenry in 1574 and as being sold to the Skerrett family in 1688. Notable, the castle was mentioned in the 1469 ‘Annals of the Four Masters’ as a site of contest between The Clanricarde and Red Hugh O’Donnell. The Clanricarde was a Gaelic title given to the overlord of what is now County Galway however he was defeated by O’Donnell who was aided by the Mayo Burke clan in the battle. The tower house consisted of four storeys.
Found in the confines of Ballybrit Racecourse, Ballybrit Castle is the ruins of a three-storey castle believed to have been built by the De Burgo (Burke) family. The castle has been somewhat preserved. It’s narrow and defensive windows suggest the castle was built under a time of political feuds among clans. It is further suggested in folklore that there is an underground connection leading from the castle to a cave in the townland of Two Mile Ditch nearby.
Ballybroder Castle is a 16th century tower house believed to have been built by the Burke family. There is not much known about the castle. It features a spiral staircase in the north east corner and a vaulted third storey level. Beside the tower house is an unoccupied 19th Century period property which was recorded to be in the possession of Henry Burke in the 1830’s. However it was later recorded that in 1855 Patrick Burke was leasing the house at Ballybroder from Peter Dolphin.
Ballydonnellan Castle is alleged to have been built in 1412 by the O’Donnellan family. The castle is now in ruins, with a four storey tower with a chimney on the western half, the remains of a 17th century house, separated from the eastern wing, a four storey wing built in the 18th century by the O’Donnellan family to add balance to the castle house. According to records the castle was still in existence in the 1890’s but it was later described as ‘in ruins’ in 1933.
Ballylee Castle (Thoor Ballylee)
Ballylee Castle is a 16th century fortified Hiberno-Norman tower house built by the De Burgo (Burke) family. The castke is also known as ‘Yeats Tower’ due to the fact that the castle was restored by William Butler Yeats in 1919, as a retreat for himself and his family. As Yeats had an affinity for the Irish language, he dropped the term “castle” in naming the property in favour for the Irish word ‘Thoor’ (meaning ‘tower’). He and his family occupied the castle for near 10 years, at which point after 1929, the castle fell into disrepair again until later restored and reopened in 1965 as a Yeats memorial and heritage centre. Today, due to its proximity to the Streamstown River, Thoor Ballylee has been subject to sporadic flooding throughout the yeas causing considerable damage.
Ballylin Castle was a small 15th century tower house built by the De Burgo (Burke) family. The tower is now quite ruined, but features such as the east entrance, a spiral stair and a latrine chute can still be seen.
Ballymaquiff Castle is a small tower house built by the De Burgo (Burke) family. The lavish construction features of the castle such as ground floor and second floor vaulting, a 5ft square hallway, stone staircase and a narrow round-headed cut-stone opening near the top of the north wall points to the castle being a construction of the wealthy De Burgo family. Nonetheless, records seem to suggest that the De Burgo family sold it to the Ffrench family from quite early on. The castle passed through the Ffrench family through the years with records stating the ownership of Christopher Ffrench in 1650 and Arthur French in 1675.
Ballymore Castle is a small 16th century tower house said to have been built in 1585 by John Lawrence, on the land he had acquired through marriage to a daughter of the O’Madden family, Lord of Longford. Lawrence’s eldest son, Walter Lawrence, married Cecily Moore, the granddaughter of Richard Burke, 2nd Earl of Clanricarde. As a result, the castle suffered much during the subsequent wars and was repaired by Walter Lawrence again in 1620. Having supported the royalist cause in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, under the leadership of Ulick Burke, 1st Marquess of Clanricarde, John Lawrence Jr. was dispossessed by Oliver Cromwell in 1641. The castle and much of the estate was the given to Sir Thomas Newcomen, who leased the castle back to the Lawrences. During the Williamite wars a small defensive force occupied Ballymore castle in 1691 under the instructions of Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan. The castle was attacked by de Ginkell and was eventually captured, hanging the sergeant of the troops in the process. In 1815, the east facing entrance was incorporated into a house by the Seymour family. The house and castle are still inhabited today.
Ballymulfaig castle was an early tower house built by the O’Shaughnessy family. There is not much known of the castle and only portions of the bawn wall remain.
Little is known of Ballynabanaba Castle other than the castle and surrounding lands were held by William Lally.
Ballynacourty Castle was a 12th century hall-house which was built by Richard De Burgo (Burke) family. The manor castle underwent much alterations in the 16th century before falling into ruin.
Ballynahinch Castle was built in 1754 by the ferocious O’Flaherty family who occupied the castle until the end of the century. The castle is steeped in history, with one of the more notable residents being the wife of Donal O’Flaherty, Grace O’Malley, also known as Pirate Queen of Connacht, as she was a pirate on the high seas. She took over as the head of the O’Flaherty family when her husband was killed by a rival clan. In 1800, the castle was took over by Richard Martin, otherwise known as ‘Humanity Dick’ who was the founder of the RSPCA, and rebuilt in order to be used as an Inn. Furthermore, in 1924 Prince Ranjitsinhji Maharajah of Nawanager stayed at the castle as a guest of the Berridge family who then owned the estate. He fell in love with the area and the castle so much that he decided to buy the castle and return every year until his death in 1932. Today the Castle is used as a hotel with much of the castle features of old still in existence.
There is little known information about 3 storey Ballynahivnia Castle. Features of the castle ruins include gunloops on the lower level, ogival headed loops on the second storey and angle loops at the third storey level. The entrance can be identified, even though no longer in tact.
Banagher Castle, lying on the boarder of counties Galway and Offaly, is a medieval castle which was largely rebuilt in the Napoleonic times in order to be used as a powder store. With a Martello tower nearby and a gun mounted on its roof, the castle was used to fortify the Banagher bridge across the Shannon. The interior of the former castle became used as a powder magazine for the gun on the roof and housed a garrison of 20 soldiers. The castle fell into disrepair until the 1980’s where considerable restoration work has since taken place.
Barnaderg Castle was a five storey 16th century stronghold of the O’Kelly family. It was built by Malachy O’Kelly. The castle had long been claimed to have been one of the last castles built in Ireland. In the past, given the low lying land that easily floods surrounding the castle, it is believed that the tower house consisted of a draw bridge. The castle is now in ruins.
Brackloon Castle was a 16th century tower house built by the O’Madden clan. It was recorded that in 1651, the castle was a scene of slaughter when the garrison were thrown off the battlements. It is further recorded that the castle throughout the years was attacked many times before it was captured by the Lord Justice in 1657 in the Queens campaign against the O’Conors family of Offaly. Troops were ordered to sail up the Shannon from Athlone, where the army then marched into Meelick to crush the troublesome O’Connors, who were hiding on the west banks of the Shannon. The castle was inhabited until the 1950’s and has since undergone considerable restoration work and numerous features such as gunloops, a box machicolation over the fourth storey level entrance, small windows, defensive, turrets and the remains of a suspected murder hole still exist.
Cloonacauneen Castle is a four storey 16th century tower house now converted into a small hotel. The castle was held by Richard De Burgo (Burke) in 1574. The castle eventually changed hands to the Blake family, with Martin Blake coming into possession until 1835 where he sold it to a Mr. Fair from Ballinasloe. In 1914 the castle came into the possession of Mr. James Malley, but as a dilapidated ruin. Nonetheless, under the ownership of the Lenihan family in 1963, the caste underwent restoration work. The castle hotel still consists of several of it’s features such as fireplaces and latrines on all levels above the first storey, a murder hole and much more.
Cahererillan Castle was a 14th century, five storey, tower house stronghold believed to have belonged to the O’Heyne family. However other sources suggest that the castle may well have been a stronghold of the O’Shaughnessy family. It’s possible that the castle may have simply passed hands between the two families throughout the years.
The Caherglassaun tower house was believed to have been the stronghold of the O’Heyne family. The castle sits close to Caherglassaun Lough and although in ruins, many features such as gunloops, an angle-loop, mullioned windows can still be seen. In 1755, the castle was destroyed by an earthquake where it was left in ruins ever since.
Caherkinmonwee Castle is a late 5 storey medieval tower believed to have been built in the 15th century. It has been recorded that in 1574, the castle was held by Myler Henry Burke. The castle was left in ruin for over two hundred years before being purchased by Peter Hayes in 1996. Under the ownership of Mr. Hayes, the castle underwent a large restoration project. The castle still retains some of the orginal features such as bartizans on all four corners, a spiral staircase and latrines on the second, third, and fourth storey levels.
Unfortunately there is little known about Caherakilleen Castle which adds to the mystery of the Castle ruins.
There is little known about Cahernamuck Castle which adds to the mystery of the Castle however unfortunately due to extraordinary circumstances the ruins of the medieval Castle were blown up using explosives which had a permit for the demolition of an ‘old house’ but not for the castle ruins.
Cargin Castle (also known as ‘Carraigin Castle’) was built in the 13th Century and later restored in the 1970’s. The castle was built by Adam Gaynard III who was grandson of a Norman adventurer who took part in the colonisation of Ireland by the De Burgo conquerors in 1238. The castle was never used as a fortress but rather a home to landowners to secure them through turbulent times. The castle changed hands to George Staunton, supporter of Cromwell in the English Civil War, in 1650, where his descendants continued to possess the castle until 1946. By this time, the castle had long been abandoned and stood ruinous.
Cashlaundarragh Castle (aka Ryehill)
Cashlaundarragh Castle (also known as Ryehill Castle) was a 15th century built by the O’Kelly family. It is recorded that in 1574, the four storey tower house was held by Ullick Lynch. Unfortunately the castle is very much in ruins.
Castlecreevy Castle was a 14th century tower house said to have built by a lady called Creeven A Bourke where the castle’s name is supposed to have derived i.e. Creeveen or Creevan. The castle is now very much in ruins.
Castlegar Castle was a four storey Norman castle built by Richard De Burgo (Burke), 4th Earl of Clonricarde, after his son was beheaded by the O’Flaherty clan due to a dispute over paying of taxes. It was said that De Burgo only ever spent one night in the Castle before residing in Portumna Castle instead. It was recorded that in 1574, the Castle was held by Roland Skerrit. Unfortunately only half of the south east wall of the tower remains today but still displays features such as a beautiful stone arch and a number of narrow slit defensive windows.
Castletown Castle (Kiltartan Castle)
Castletown Caslte (also known as Kiltartan Castle) was a 13th century tower house. The castle fell to ruin in the 1650’s under cannon fire by Cromwellian troops. Today, two storeys partially remain with a 3 storey spiral stairway and numerous narrow slit defensive windows.
Claregalway Castle was believed to have been built in the 1440’s as a stronghold to the De Burgo (Burke) family. The castle was strategically placed on a low crossing point of the Clare River, allowing the De Burgo family to control the water and land trade routes. In the past, the castle would have featured a high bawn/defensive wall, an imposing gate-house and a moat. The Battle of Knockdoe in 1504, was one of the largest pitched battle in Medieval Irish history, involving an estimated 10,000 combatants. On the eve of the battle, Ulick Finn Burke stayed at the Castle (which was 5km’s from the battle ground), drinking and playing cards with his troops. The Burke family lost the battle and the castle was later captured by the opponents, the Fitzgerald family. In the 1600’s, Ulick Burke, 5th Earl of Clanricarde, held the castle however it was captured by Oliver Cromwell in 1651 who made the castle his headquarters. English military garrison occupied the castle in the early 1700’s and by the end of the 1700’s, the castle was described as going into decline and disrepair. During the War of Independence in 1919-21, the British once again used the castle as a garrison and a prison for I.R.A soldiers. In the later 1900’s, the famous actor Orson Welles is believed to have stayed at the castle as a 16 year old boy. Today, the castle has been fully restored to it’s former glory.
Built in 1818 by John D’Arcy (known as the founder of Clifden), Clifden Castle is a ruined gothic style manor house which served as the main dwelling for the large D’Arcy family. Following John D’Arcy’s death in 1839, the castle ans estate was inherited by his oldest son, Hyacinth. However, Hyacinth lacked the control and ability to deal with tenants as his father did and the family suddenly found themselves bankrupt, not helped by the famine which struck in 1845. As a result the castle and estate was purchased by Thomas and Charles Eyre, brothers from Bath, who used the castle as a holiday home. After the Eyre family, the castle became uninhabited after 1894 and fell into disrepair. In 1935, ownership passed to a group of tenants, who were to own it jointly, and it quickly became a ruin.
Clogharevaun Castle was a four storey tower house. Unfortunately, little is known in regards the history of the castle. Some features of the castle still remain such as traces of a vault above the ground floor, mural passages, wall-walk and parapet of a bawn.
Unfortunately there is little known in regards the history of Cloghaun Castle.
Cloghballymore Castle was owned by the Kilkelly family in the 16th century. The castle later passed hands to the Blake family who built the attached mansion to the castle. The castle is in ruins but the walls of the castle still remain standing and in pretty good preservation.
Cloghroak Castle is believed to have been inhabited by the famous De Burgo (Burke) family. The ruins of the castle are enclosed by a wall and there are what seems to be traces of a walled garden surrounding the castle and ruins of a turret in the western wall.
Clonbrock Castle is a restored 15th century tower house, a stronghold of the O’Kelly family. The castle was believed to have been built by Tadhg O’Kelly in 1475. In the late 16th century, the castle was acquired from the O’Kelly family by Thomas Dillon, ‘Chief Justice of Connacht’ for Elizabeth I. The Dillon family, an Anglo-Norman family, lived on the estate for some 400 years thereafter. Other features around the castle grounds include turrets and a walled garden.