Locating this Castle was a joy as it is in such a picturesque location alongside a section of the Grand Canal deep in the heart of County Kildare. I was surprised however on researching it later that it is not quite what I thought it to be.
There are records of a Fitzgerald Castle located at Ballyteague of which it is said that one of the
more famous members of that family, Silken Thomas the 10th Earl of Kildare, took refuge in the Castle in 1535 following the nearby Battle of Allen. Later in 1650 the Castle was badly damaged by cannon fire by invading Cromwellian forces. There was talk of some repair but from what I can gather the sturdy tower house that stands today is not the original Castle but in fact an archaeologically sound reproduction of a Norman tower house constructed by Sir Gerald George Aylmer in 1860 as a folly. Aylmer’s family had inherited the lands at Ballyteague from the Fitzgeralds in 1662. By the early 19th century the Aylmers were almost bankrupt but Sir Gerald George went about a plan of squaring the family finances and indeed subsequently did so and contributed a great deal of good work to the locality including a new road from Prosperous to his newly reconstructed Donadea Castle (see earlier post,) a drainage scheme of the slate river and the partial construction of Kilmeague Village. At this time Aylmer had dabbled in folly’s creating the prominent tower on the Hill of Allen called Aylmer’s Folly (see earlier post). The castle at Ballyteague was designed as a genuine looking three storey Norman style Castle that was pleasing to the eye in a bucolic setting. It is thought that some of the original stone of the earlier medieval tower house may have been incorporated into the building of this folly. The tower was owned by the Thornton family in the early part of the last century and eventually came into the hands of Tom Hendy a well thought of and noted historian who collected and kept many local historical artefacts within the castle. Tom unfortunately died in 2010. This is all the information I could garner on the castle but interestingly enough a well renowned author of some Irish based books called Anita Hendy lives near the castle and indeed one of her Books “The Castle Book” is apparently inspired by Ballyteague. I wonder is Anita a relative of Tom Hendy?
When I visited Ballyteague I expected a ruin and it could very well have been as I had no previous knowledge of it at that point and there is only limited access through a gate in a little grass enclosure on one side. There are some nearby houses but I didn’t think at the time that there to ask if there was any access to the tower and I didn’t want to intrude too much. I wonder if the historical collection is still housed there and if any access is permitted? Maybe someone out there can shed some light.
The Castle is located next to Huband Bridge on the canal and really is worth a trip to see. It’s so peaceful there and though not technically a ruin it may contain parts of the original Fitzgerald Castle now gone in the sands of time.
To find Ballyteague Castle take the R403 heading West from Prosperous until you reach Allenwood. As you enter the village there is a left turn just after the Esso Service Station with a sign pointing to Newbridge. Turn left down this road (R415) and drive for approx 1.5KM until you have crossed two hump back stone bridges. A short distance after the second bridge you reach a third one. Cross over and turn right on the other side and follow the narrow road parallel to the canal. Drive for approx.1.5Km and you will spot the Castle on the far side of the canal. Just before you reach Huband Bridge which leads to the Castle there is a field gate and enough room to pull over. Simply cross the bridge on foot and there is a small metal gate in the wall in front of the Castle