Lismore Castle is a four-storey tower house located near the village of Eyrecourt in Galway. Lismore Castle has a rich and fascinating history that spans several centuries and families.
Lismore Castle was built by the O’Madden clan, a powerful Gaelic family that ruled over a large territory in east Galway. The exact date of construction is unknown, but it is believed to date back to the late 16th century. The castle was strategically located on a hilltop overlooking the River Shannon, and had a defensive wall and a square bartizan (a small turret) on one corner.
The O’Maddens were involved in many conflicts and rebellions against the English crown, and often allied with other Irish clans such as the O’Neills and the O’Donnells. The last O’Madden to reside at Lismore Castle was Fergus Madden, who died from falling from a horse in 1641. His widow, Catherine Madden (alias Donnellan), remarried to Richard Burke, a member of another influential Irish family. She claimed Lismore Castle as her dowry, and thus the castle passed to the Burkes.
The Burkes were also known as the Mac William Iochtar, or the Lower Burkes, to distinguish them from their cousins, the Upper Burkes or Mac William Uachtar. The Lower Burkes controlled much of south Connacht, and were loyal to the English crown. They were involved in several wars and battles against their Irish and Anglo-Irish rivals, such as the Nine Years’ War (1594-1603) and the Confederate Wars (1641-1653).
In 1778, Lismore Castle was sold to Denis Daly, a wealthy landowner and politician who belonged to one of the most prominent families in Galway. The Dalys owned several estates and properties in the county, including Dunsandle House and Castle. Denis Daly was a member of the Irish House of Commons and an influential figure in the Patriot movement, which sought greater autonomy for Ireland within the British Empire.
The Dalys renovated and modernized Lismore Castle, adding new windows, doors and fireplaces. They also planted trees and gardens around the castle, creating a picturesque landscape. The Dalys lived at Lismore Castle until 1910, when it was destroyed by a fire that also killed Eleanor Blake, the daughter of Hyacinth Daly and his wife Caroline Blake.
The fire left Lismore Castle in ruins, and it was never rebuilt. Today, the castle is covered in ivy, creating a striking contrast with its natural surroundings. Some architectural features of the castle are still visible, such as the bartizan, the wall and some windows. The castle is privately owned, but can be seen from the roadside or with the landowner’s permission.
Lismore Castle is one of the many castles in Galway that reflect the history, culture and heritage of this county. It is a testament to the power and prestige of the families that owned it, as well as to the conflicts and changes that shaped Ireland over the centuries.
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