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Feartagar Castle, also known as Jennings Castle, is an impressive tower house that dates back to the 15th century and has a rich and turbulent history. Feartagar Castle is located on a hill near the village of Kilconly, about 8 km northwest of Tuam. The castle was built by the de Burgos (Burkes, de Búrca), a powerful Anglo-Norman family that ruled over much of Connacht for centuries. The de Burgos were descendants of William de Burgh, a close friend of King John of England who came to Ireland in the 12th century.

The castle was originally a four-storey tower house with a rectangular base measuring 12 x 10 meters. It had round bartizans (small turrets) on each corner, a machicolation (a projecting stone structure) above the entrance door and a latrine chute on the south wall. The second floor was vaulted and there were two stone staircases leading to the upper floors. The castle was surrounded by a bawn (a defensive wall) with a gatehouse.

The castle witnessed many conflicts and changes of ownership over the years. In 1651, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, the castle was taken over by the English forces and given to Cromwellian settlers. Later, the castle passed into the hands of the Blakes of Tuam, another prominent Anglo-Irish family. The Blakes built a three-storey residence adjacent to the castle in the 18th century, which was considered one of the finest structures in Galway at the time. The most famous of the Blakes was Edward Blake, who created an iron door at the entrance of the castle. He died in 1886 and the castle, house and lands were sold to a John Cannon.

Cannon was a weaver’s son who came from Eyrecourt in Co. Galway. He bought the estate for the sum of £1,847. Cannon owned land in three other countries and had a grand total of 5,973 acres. Thomas Fredrick Lewin an agent and landowner from Blindwell inherited the house and lands. Lewin resided in the castle until July 1922. During the Troubles the manor house was attacked and burnt down. According to local tradition Lewin escaped through a secret passage and boarded at train at the local Castlegrove station and was never seen again.

Today, Feartagar Castle is a National Monument and is owned by the state. It is in ruins but still well preserved, with many of its original features still visible. It is open to the public and can be accessed by a short walk from the road. The castle may be locked to avoid vandalism, but enquire with the nearby house on whether access may be possible. It is a fascinating place to visit and learn about the history and culture of County Galway.


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Feartagar Castle



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