Saturday, 1 August 2015
Shrule Castle Co Mayo
This strong three storey tower house is located adjacent to the Black River very close to the border with Galway. It was built in 1238 by the the Norman DeBurgo family. The castle was given to John DeBurgo in 1308. Among the outstanding features are an skirt like base batter that spreads out from the walls at the bottom and four great bartizans on each corner at the top. Each bartizan would have been used as multiple machicolations for defence. The castle came under attack by the English in 1570 and was seized but a retaliation force made up of the Burkes and O'Donnells made a valiant but failed attempt to retake it. The castle passed then into the hands of the William Burke in1574 and his heir John in 1610. Eventually the Castle and lands were leased subsequently to Pierce Lynch the mayor of Galway by Richard Burke.
The Castle came under some controversy in 1642 when some English settlers taking refuge there were sent after about a week with an escort to Galway fort for safety, but after handing them over to the escort which was led by Edmond Bourke, he ordered the killing of the group along the way. This historically is now referred to as the "Shrule massacre".
The castle ruins today are in quite a dangerous condition. The stone work around the doorway and the base batter have been either removed or tampered with, the stones being pilfered for no doubt for other building purposes. This has seriously undermined the building and so it is now closed to public access. The old stile in the outer wall is covered in brambles and although we tried to get access by asking a local, he said that the owner was now in England but you could hop over the wall at your own risk. That is not that easy as the land on the other side is at a deeper level. I think discretion was the better part of valour here so we relented on this occasion. Nonetheless it is a very impressive structure and well worth taking time to stop and view.
To find the ruins take the N84 Northbound from Galway City and drive approx. 20KM until you reach the crossroads in Headford. Turn right here and continue on the N84 for approx. 5KM and you will reach Shrule. You cannot miss the ruins on your right. Park in the Pub car park opposite.