If you are looking for a hidden gem of Irish history, you might want to visit Derrymaclaughna Castle, a five-storey tower house in Galway. This castle was built in the 16th century as a stronghold for the De Burgo (Burke) family, one of the most powerful and influential clans in Ireland. The castle witnessed many turbulent events and changes of ownership over the centuries, and now lies in ruins, but still retains some of its original features and charm.
Derrymaclaughna Castle is located in the townland of Derrymaclaughna, near Turloughmore, about 20 km east of Galway city. The name Derrymaclaughna means “the oak wood of MacLoughna”, suggesting that the area was once covered by oak trees.
The castle was built by the De Burgo (Burke) family, who were descendants of William de Burgh, a Norman knight who came to Ireland with King Henry II in 1171. The De Burgo family became one of the most powerful and wealthy families in Ireland, ruling over large territories in Connacht and Munster. They also adopted Irish customs and culture, and became known as the “Irish Burkes”.
The castle was held by John De Burgo (Burke) in 1574, according to historical records. He was a son of Ulick na gCeann Burke, the first Earl of Clanricarde, who was loyal to Queen Elizabeth I and fought against the Irish rebels. John De Burgo was also involved in several conflicts with other branches of his family, as well as with the O’Flaherty clan, who were his neighbours and rivals.
The castle remained in the Burke family for centuries, and was recorded in 1786 as the seat of the Burke family. However, in the early 19th century, the castle became the residence of Thomas P. O’Flahertie of the Lemonfield family, who was married to a daughter of Ulick Burke. The O’Flahertie family were related to Oscar Wilde, the famous Irish writer and poet.
The castle now lies in ruins, but some features of the castle can still be seen. The castle had five storeys, with a vaulted basement and four floors above. The entrance was on the ground floor, protected by a machicolation (a projecting stone structure) above. The windows on the upper floors were ogival-headed (pointed arches), or had hoodmoulds (arched mouldings) above them. The castle also had a spiral staircase, a fireplace, and a garderobe (a medieval toilet).
Derrymaclaughna Castle is not open to the public, but can be viewed from the road. It is a private property, and permission should be sought from the owner before entering. The castle is also a protected structure under the National Monuments Act, and any alterations or damage to it are prohibited.
Derrymaclaughna Castle is one of the many castles that can be found in Galway, a county rich in heritage and history. Derrymaclaughna Castle is a fascinating example of a tower house that reflects the history and culture of Ireland. It is worth a visit if you are looking for a glimpse into the past and a scenic spot to enjoy.
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