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Brackloon Castle is a 16th century tower house near the village of Eyrecourt in County Galway. Brackloon Castle is one of the oldest and smallest Irish castles that is still in use as a family home, and it has a rich and turbulent history that spans over 500 years.

Brackloon Castle was built in the early 1500s by the O’Madden clan, who were the rulers of the ancient Gaelic lordship of Síl Anmchadha. The castle was strategically located near the River Shannon, which was an important trade route and a natural boundary between different territories. The castle was designed as a defensive structure, with thick stone walls, narrow windows, gunloops, turrets, and a box machicolation over the entrance. The entrance was also protected by a murder hole, which allowed the defenders to drop stones or boiling water on the attackers.

The first recorded attack on Brackloon Castle occurred in 1557, when it was besieged by the forces of the English Lord Deputy, who was trying to subdue the rebellious O’Connors in the O’Madden’s territory. The castle was seized and Donogh McCollo O’Madden, the chief of the clan, was killed. However, the O’Maddens managed to regain possession of the castle soon after, and continued to live there until the mid-17th century.

During this period, the O’Maddens made some architectural changes to the castle, such as adding chimneys and improving the upper floors. They also received several pardons from the English monarchs for their involvement in various rebellions and conflicts. The last O’Madden chief to own Brackloon Castle was Ambrose maol, who died in 1664. He lost his property as a result of the Cromwellian confiscations and transplantations, which aimed to dispossess the Irish Catholic landowners and replace them with English Protestant settlers.

The new owner of Brackloon Castle was Captain John Eyre, an English soldier and adventurer who acquired vast lands in East Galway. He also built Eyrecourt Castle, a large mansion near Brackloon. Although Eyre was the proprietor of Brackloon Castle, he did not live there himself. Instead, he allowed some of the O’Maddens to remain as tenants until the early 18th century. The last known descendant of the Brackloon O’Maddens was Penelope Lawrence, who died in 1720.

After that, Brackloon Castle fell into ruin and remained so until the late 19th century, when it was restored by a local farmer who used it as a temporary home for several tenant families. The last of these left around 1905, and the castle became abandoned again until it was purchased by Ken McLeod, a restoration enthusiast from County Down, who renovated it in the early 21st century. He sold it to Donal and Alison Burke, who currently live there with their family.

The Burkes are passionate about preserving and sharing the history and heritage of Brackloon Castle and its surroundings. They also run a small family farm on their land, where they practice sustainable farming methods to protect the environment and biodiversity. They also welcome visitors who are interested in learning more about Brackloon Castle and its past.

Brackloon Castle is a remarkable example of how history and heritage can be preserved and celebrated in Ireland. It is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of its former and current inhabitants, who have faced many challenges and changes over the centuries. It is also a beautiful and charming place to visit, where you can enjoy the natural scenery and experience a slice of Irish history.


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Brackloon Castle



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