Taylor Castle is an impressive structure which dates back to the 16th century and has a rich and turbulent history. Also known as Castle Taylor or Ballymcgrath, Taylor Castle was originally a four-storey tower house built by the O’Shaughnessy clan around 1500. The tower house was a typical Irish fortified residence that served as a stronghold and a residence for the local lord.
The tower house had thick stone walls, narrow windows, and a crenellated parapet. It also had a pointed arch door with a false machicolation, which is a projecting gallery with openings for dropping stones or boiling oil on attackers.
The castle was later acquired by the Taylor family, who were English settlers who came to Ireland in the 17th century. The Taylors were prominent landowners and politicians in Galway, and they made significant alterations to the castle in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1802, they added another tower to balance the existing one and inserted a three-storey house in between. They also added Gothic Revival features, such as pointed windows with tracery, gablets, and slatehanging. The castle became a grand country house with elegant rooms and gardens.
However, the castle also witnessed some tragic events in its history. During the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921), the castle was attacked by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), who saw the Taylors as symbols of British oppression. The castle was burned and looted, and some of the family members were killed or kidnapped. The castle was later restored, but it was again attacked by the IRA during the Civil War (1922-1923). The castle was finally abandoned in 1930, and it has since fallen into ruin and disrepair.
Today, Taylor Castle is a protected structure and a national monument. It is located in Ardrahan, about 25 km south of Galway city. It is not open to the public, but it can be viewed from the roadside or with the landowner’s permission. The castle is surrounded by fields and trees, and it still retains its imposing appearance. It is a fascinating example of how different architectural styles and historical periods can be combined in one building. It is also a testament to the turbulent history of Ireland and the legacy of the Taylor family.
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