ORANMORE CASTLE

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Oranmore Castle is one of the most impressive and well-preserved tower houses in Galway. Located on the shores of Galway Bay, the castle has a rich and turbulent history that spans over six centuries.

Oranmore Castle was built sometime in the 15th century, possibly on the site of an older castle that dated back to the 13th century. The castle was owned by the Earl of Clanricarde, a powerful Norman family that ruled over much of Galway and Connacht. The castle served as a strategic stronghold and a maritime base for the Clanricarde’s, who controlled the trade and commerce in the region.

The castle was also involved in several conflicts and sieges throughout its history. In 1574, it was attacked by Sir Edward Fitton, the English president of Connacht, who failed to capture it. In 1641, it was besieged by the Irish rebels who joined the Confederate War against the English. The castle held out for two years until it surrendered in 1643. However, it was later restored to the Clanricardes after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.

The castle was then leased to the Athy family, who were loyal supporters of the Clanricardes. The Athys lived in the castle until 1853, when they abandoned it due to its dilapidated condition. The castle remained uninhabited and neglected for almost a century, until it was bought by Lady Anita Leslie in 1947. Lady Leslie was a descendant of the Clanricardes and a renowned writer and adventurer. She restored the castle to its former glory and made it her home until her death in 1985.

Oranmore Castle is a typical example of a medieval tower house, a fortified residence that was common in Ireland from the 14th to the 17th centuries. The castle consists of a rectangular four-storey tower with a square staircase turret at one corner. The tower has a battlemented parapet and machicolations (projecting stone ledges) for defence. The walls are about three metres thick and have gunloops (narrow openings) for firing muskets.

The entrance to the castle is on the ground floor, which also contains a vaulted cellar and a guardroom. The first floor has a large hall with a fireplace and a window seat. The second floor has two bedrooms with fireplaces and closets. The third floor has another bedroom and a chapel with an altar and a piscina (a basin for washing sacred vessels). The staircase turret leads to the roof, which offers panoramic views of the bay and the surrounding countryside.

Oranmore Castle is not only a historic monument, but also a cultural hub and an artistic inspiration. The castle is currently owned by Leonie Finn, the daughter of Lady Leslie and the wife of Alec Finn, a famous Irish folk musician who passed away in 2018. Leonie Finn is an artist who uses the castle as her studio and gallery. She also hosts various events and exhibitions at the castle, such as concerts, workshops, and festivals.

Oranmore Castle has also been featured in several films and TV shows, such as Alfred the Great (1969), Scariest Places on Earth (2001), Reign (2013-2017), and Jack Taylor: The Pikeman (2016). The castle has also attracted many visitors and admirers over the years, who are fascinated by its history, beauty, and charm.

Oranmore Castle is open to the public by appointment only. For more information, visit the Oranmore Castle website.

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53.268297, -8.935231

Oranmore Castle

GALLERY

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