If you are looking for a historical attraction in Galway City, you might want to visit Lynch’s Castle, a 16th century fortified house that is now a bank. Lynch’s Castle is one of the best preserved examples of a medieval townhouse in Ireland, and it has a fascinating history that reflects the power and prestige of the Lynch family, one of the 14 Tribes of Galway.
The Lynch family were of Anglo-Norman descent and settled in Galway in the 13th century. They became one of the most influential and wealthy families in the city, producing several mayors and merchants. They built their castle on the corner of Shop Street and Abbeygate Street as a defensive residence and a symbol of their status. The castle is four storeys high and has a limestone façade with elaborate carvings, gargoyles, ornamental mouldings and cornices. The castle also features the coats of arms of the Lynch family, King Henry VII and the Fitzgeralds of Kildare, who were allies of the Lynches.
The castle witnessed many events in Galway’s history, such as the siege by Red Hugh O’Donnell in 1596, the Cromwellian invasion in 1652 and the Williamite wars in 1691. The castle was also home to James Lynch Fitzstephen, who became known for a notorious episode in 1493, when, as the mayor of Galway, hung his own son from a window for murdering a Spanish sailor. This act of justice gave rise to the legend of the “Lynch Memorial Window”, which is located on the ruins of another building nearby.
The castle underwent several changes over the centuries. In 1808, a large extension was added to the rear of the building. In 1933, Allied Irish Bank acquired the site and restored it to its original appearance. The bank also added a carved doorway designed by Dublin architect L. Campbell. The ground floor of the castle is open to the public during bank opening hours, where visitors can see information panels that explain the history and architecture of the building in detail.
Lynch’s Castle is a unique attraction that combines medieval heritage with modern commerce. It is a testament to the rich and turbulent history of Galway, and a reminder of the legacy of one of its most prominent families. If you are in Galway, don’t miss the chance to see this remarkable building that has stood the test of time.
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