Ballinduff Castle is a 14th century tower house that stands near the village of Annaghdown on the east shore of Lough Corrib. Ballinduff Castle was built by the notable De Burgo family. The castle has a rich and turbulent history, as it was involved in several conflicts and changed hands many times over the centuries.
The De Burgo family, also known as Burke or Clanricard, were a powerful Anglo-Norman dynasty that ruled over much of what is now County Galway and parts of Mayo and Roscommon. They were descendants of William de Burgh, who came to Ireland with King Henry II in 1171. The De Burgos built many castles and tower houses in their territory, such as Terryland Castle, Castlegar Castle and Ballindooley Castle.
A tower house is a type of fortified residence that was common in Ireland from the 14th to the 17th century. It usually consisted of a rectangular or square stone tower with four or five storeys, surrounded by a bawn (a walled enclosure) and sometimes other buildings. Tower houses were designed to provide protection and prestige for the local lords and their families.
Ballinduff Castle is a typical example of a tower house, with four storeys and narrow windows. It is believed to have been built by the De Burgos in the late 14th or early 15th century. The castle is located near the remains of an earlier monastic settlement, which may have been founded by St. Brendan of Clonfert in the 6th century.
Ballinduff Castle witnessed several battles and sieges throughout its history. One of the most notable events was the Battle of Ballinduff in 1469, when Red Hugh O’Donnell, the lord of Tyrconnell (now Donegal), invaded Connacht with the help of the Mayo Burkes, who were rivals of the Clanricardes. The Clanricarde leader, Ulick Burke, tried to defend Ballinduff Castle against O’Donnell’s army, but he was defeated and captured. The castle was then plundered and burned by O’Donnell’s forces. This battle was recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters, a chronicle of Irish history written in the 17th century.
Ballinduff Castle changed owners several times over the years. In 1574, it was held by Thomas MacHenry, who may have been a tenant or a relative of the De Burgos. In 1688, it was sold to the Skerrett family, who were a prominent merchant family of Galway. The Skerretts owned Ballinduff Castle until the early 20th century, when it was acquired by the Land Commission.
Ballinduff Castle is now a ruin, but it still retains some of its original features, such as the spiral staircase, the fireplaces and the vaulted ceilings. The castle is privately owned and not open to the public, but it can be seen from the roadside. The castle is listed as a protected structure by Galway County Council, which means that it cannot be altered or demolished without permission.
Ballinduff Castle is a valuable part of Galway’s heritage and is a testament to the medieval history and culture of Ireland, as well as to the legacy of the De Burgo family and their successors.
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