Clonbrock Castle, situated near the village of Ahascragh in Galway, was built by Tadhg O’Kelly in 1475, as a stronghold of the O’Kelly family, one of the most powerful clans in Connacht. The O’Kellys ruled over the territory of Hy-Many, which stretched from the Shannon to the Suck rivers. They were renowned for their bravery and generosity, and often clashed with the neighbouring Anglo-Norman families.

In the late 16th century, Clonbrock Castle was acquired from the O’Kellys by Thomas Dillon, who was appointed as the Chief Justice of Connacht by Queen Elizabeth I. The Dillon family was of Anglo-Norman origin, and had settled in Ireland since the 13th century. They became one of the most influential families in Galway, holding several titles and estates.

The Dillon family lived in Clonbrock Castle for over 400 years, and made several additions and alterations to the original structure. They also built a new mansion house, Clonbrock House, in the 18th century, which replaced the old castle as their main residence. The castle remained intact until 1807, when it was accidentally burned down in a fire that resulted from a fireworks display on the estate to celebrate the birth of the 2nd Lord Clonbrock’s son and heir.

The Dillons were loyal to the British crown, but also sympathetic to the Irish cause. They supported Catholic emancipation and land reform, and some of them were involved in nationalist movements such as the United Irishmen and the Young Irelanders. They also contributed to the cultural and social life of Galway, hosting literary salons, musical events and charitable activities.

Clonbrock Castle was abandoned for many years, until it was purchased by a private owner in 2006, who undertook a major restoration project. The castle was carefully restored to its original appearance, using traditional materials and techniques. The restoration was completed in 2012, and the castle was opened to the public for tours and events.

The castle features four floors of rooms, including a great hall, a kitchen, a chapel, a solar and a dungeon. The rooms are furnished with period furniture and artefacts, and display panels that explain the history and significance of each room. The castle also boasts a beautiful walled garden. Clonbrock Castle is now a private residence and no longer open to the public, and can only be explored with the owner’s permission.


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Clonbrock Castle




September 30, 2022

Clonbrock Castle is in the parish of Fohenagh.