Sunday, 3 August 2014
Drumharsna Castle Co Galway
This sturdy tower house is believed to have been built by the Kilkellys in the early 16th century and is recorded as being occupied by Shane Ballagh around 1577. The Castle survived the Cromwellian invasion and was indeed still in use up until the 1920's when it was then occupied by the infamous Black and Tans as a barracks and stories of brutal murders became associated with it. The Castle was finally left badly damaged by the Tans and subsequently fell into ruin.
The Castle stands five storeys high with the second and fourth storeys being vaulted. An attic and battlements take up the remaining fifth storey. A spiral stairway is situated in the South East corner and the building also contains some mural passageways.
The ruins stand close to the roadside of a narrow lane. A wall in front offers a narrow stile but the entrance has been barred up and a thin electric fence put in place presumably to deter cattle although it's so narrow a space I wonder if it's more to deter two legged encroachers.
As mentioned several murders were supposed to have taken place here but there is one recorded case from the 1920's of two brothers called Loughnane who were arrested and incarcerated in the Castle before being brought to a nearby wood and executed. it must have seemed a very stark place to spend their last night alive.
We were on our way from Gort to Kinvarra and took a diversion to have a closer look at the ruin. On approach it really does hold a commanding position. It stands dramatically on pastureland and is certainly one of the tallest of these type of tower houses I have seen. It's a pity that access to the interior is now denied as I would really liked to have explored this one. Still it was well worth the time out to visit.
To find the ruins take the N18 heading North from Gort. Approx. 2.5KM on there is a road that forks left from the main road. You will need to take this left hand fork and drive for approx. 5KM. You will know that you are on the right road as you will pass a modern whitewashed Church with a tall square tower on your left about 1KM in from the N18. After the 5KM drive keep an eye out on your left and you will eventually spot the Castle. Turn left down the lane way and although narrow you will be able to park safely enough just past the Castle on a curve in the road.