Ballynabanaba Castle is a medieval tower house located near the village of Ahascragh in County Galway in Ireland. It is one of the many castles that dot the landscape of Ireland, which has witnessed Norman invasions, Irish kings, British intervention and more. Ballynabanaba Castle, however, remains largely unknown and unexplored by most visitors and locals alike.
It is believed that Ballynabanaba Castle may have been built in the late 15th or early 16th century by the Lally family, who were a powerful clan of Norman origin that settled in Galway. The Lally’s were loyal to the Gaelic Irish lords and resisted the English crown’s attempts to impose its authority over them. They were also involved in several wars and rebellions, such as the Nine Years’ War (1594-1603) and the Confederate Wars (1641-1653).
The castle itself is a typical example of a tower house, which was a common type of fortified residence in Ireland from the 14th to the 17th century. It consists of a rectangular stone building with four storeys and a projecting turret at one corner. The entrance is on the ground floor, protected by a machicolation (an opening for dropping stones or boiling water on attackers) and a murder hole (a hole in the ceiling for shooting arrows or guns). The upper floors were used for living quarters, while the basement was used for storage. The castle also had a bawn (a walled enclosure) around it, which may have contained other buildings such as stables or barns.
The castle was occupied by the Lallys until the late 17th century, when they were dispossessed of their lands and properties by the English government after the Williamite Wars (1689-1691). The castle eventually fell into ruin and decay, and was largely forgotten by the public. Today, Ballynabanaba Castle is a hidden gem that awaits discovery by curious explorers and history lovers. It is situated on a private farm, but can be accessed with permission from the owner. The castle is still standing, although it is in a poor condition and needs urgent conservation work.
Ballynabanaba Castle is not only a historical monument, but also a cultural heritage that reflects the rich and turbulent past of County Galway and Ireland. It is a testament to the resilience and defiance of the Lallys and other Gaelic Irish families who fought for their rights and freedoms against foreign domination. It is also a reminder of the diversity and complexity of Irish society, which was shaped by various influences and interactions from different cultures and backgrounds.
If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure in County Galway, Ballynabanaba Castle is definitely worth a visit. You will not only enjoy a unique and fascinating experience, but also contribute to raising awareness and appreciation for this neglected treasure.
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