If you are looking for a historical and scenic destination in County Galway, you might want to visit Isert Kelly Castle, a well-preserved tower house that dates back to the 15th century. Isert Kelly Castle is located in Castlepark, Kilchreest, about 5 km southwest of the village. It is a National Monument of Ireland and a site of archaeological interest.

Isert Kelly Castle was built by the MacHubert Burkes, a branch of the powerful Hiberno-Norman de Burgo (Burke) family that ruled much of Connacht and Munster. The MacHuberts claimed descent from Hubert, son of Richard Óg de Burgh, a 13th-century knight who was one of the most influential figures in medieval Ireland. The castle later passed to the MacRedmonds, another branch of the Burkes, who occupied it until the 17th century.

The castle is a three-storey tower house that stands 21 m tall, within a bawn (enclosure) that measures 60 m square. The tower house has many architectural features that reflect its history and function. The first floor is vaulted and has a fireplace. The second floor has arcades that may have been used for defensive purposes. The main room is at the third storey and has a fireplace that bears the date 1604 and the initials W.H., which may refer to William Henry, a MacRedmond lord.

The castle witnessed several turbulent events in its history. It was burned by the Ó Doṁnaill (O’Donnell) clan in 1596, during the Nine Years’ War, a rebellion against English rule in Ireland. After the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in the 1650s, the castle was confiscated and granted to Dudley Persse, an English settler who became one of the largest landowners in Galway. The Persse family owned the castle until the 19th century, but it is not clear if they ever lived in it or used it for any purpose.

In recent years, Isert Kelly Castle has been the subject of archaeological excavations and discoveries. A project led by Dr. Christy Cunniffe from Galway Archaeological Field School has been exploring the castle and its surroundings since 2014. The project has uncovered evidence of secondary buildings within the bawn, such as a hall, stables, cottages and barns, as well as artefacts such as pottery, coins, buttons and shotgun cartridges. The project aims to shed more light on the history and culture of the castle and its inhabitants.

Isert Kelly Castle is a fascinating example of a medieval tower house that has survived centuries of change and conflict. It is a testament to the legacy of the de Burgo family and their role in Irish history. It is also a place of beauty and mystery that invites visitors to explore its secrets and stories. Isert Kelly Castle is not open to the public but can be viewed from the roadside or with the local landowner’s permission.


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Isert Kelly Castle




May 21, 2023

My sir name is Kelly and always had a desire to come home to Ireland. I always knew I needed to come to Galway, but never realized that there where any standing history left. I was amazed to find there was and more I need to research about. The castle is beautiful. We drove to it and was able to stop and get pictures. You can’t walk up to it. It is in a cow pasture with a locked gate. Which is a blessing to keep the structure and area untouched by tourists. But you can see alot just by the side of the road. So happy to have found this! Can’t wait to bring my family here some day. God willing 🙏 🇮🇪🍀❤️.

Deborah Ann Kelly Adams Pennsylvania USA