Newtown Castle near Gort is a large round three-storey castle with a flat roof and battlements. It is one of the few examples of this type of castle in Ireland, and it has several interesting architectural features that reveal its history and function.
Situated on the lands of Gort Golf Club, it is believed Newtown Castle was probably built in the 16th century by Nehemias Follane. It is recorded that one “Nehemias Follane, in respect of his travaile and pains taken for Her Majesty (Elizabeth I) – shall have 2 quarters (240 acres) in the New Toune, in the Barony of Kiltaraghe” (Kiltartan).
The castle has a circular plan with a diameter of about 16 meters and a height of about 12 meters. It is built of limestone rubble with ashlar quoins and window surrounds. The walls are about 2.5 meters thick at the base and taper to about 1.5 meters at the top. The entrance is on the east side, and it has a pointed arch with a murder hole above it. The murder hole was used to drop stones or boiling water on unwelcome visitors. The entrance leads to a vaulted ground floor, which was probably used as a storage room or a stable. There is no fireplace or windows on this floor, only narrow loopholes for ventilation and light.
A spiral stone staircase built into the thickness of the wall leads to the upper floors. The first floor has a vaulted ceiling and a large fireplace on the south wall. There are two windows on this floor, one on the west wall and one on the north wall. The north window has a pointed arch and faces the road. Both windows have stone seats and iron bars. The first floor was probably used as a living room or a dining room for the family.
The second floor has a flat roof with battlements and machicolations. Machicolations are openings in the parapet that allowed defenders to shoot arrows or drop stones on attackers below. There are four windows on this floor, one on each wall, all with pointed arches and stone seats. The south window has a fireplace below it, and the east window has a garderobe (a medieval toilet) beside it. The second floor was probably used as a bedroom or a private chamber for the lord of the castle.
Newtown Castle is now in ruins, but it still retains its original shape and structure. It is surrounded by fields and trees, and it offers a peaceful and scenic view of the countryside. It is not open to the public, but it can be seen from the road or with the landowners permission.
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