Sunday 5 February 2023

Oranmore Castle Co Galway


                                Above Image:  Access gate and access to the pier

                                        Above Image: View from the pier side


This rectangular towerhouse has a commanding view of Galway bay and dates to around the 15th century. It is believed to have been a DeBurgo stronghold built upon a previous fortified building. It is also associated with the Earls of Clanricarde who held it until it was taken during the confederate wars in the 1640's. The castle had been providing supplies to the fort of Galway until it fell. 

In 1666, the same year as the great fire of London, it was lease to William Athy having been regained by Clanrickarde. The Athys were the lessees until 1853 when the castle was left uninhabited and set on the road to ruin. It was saved from it's doom in the 1940's by Anita Leslie, daughter of Shane Leslie, famed diplomat and writer and she is the sister of the late Jack Leslie of Castle Leslie in Co Monaghan. Her daughter Leonie, also a writer, is still resident in Oranmore castle.

Firstly, the castle is a private residence and not generally open to the public but the owner on occasion will give a tour if contacted in advance. In any case the walk around the exterior is well worth a look  and the views from the pier of the castle are very pleasing especially when the tide is out. The castle has four storeys with a squared shaped turret which houses the stairs. There are also some flared embrasures on the ground floor for defensive purposes.

As with a lot of castles with historical connections it is deemed to be haunted and in fact it featured in a 2001 US TV series called "The scariest places on earth" (season 2 Episode 11) directed by John Jopson.

On our visit we parked in the nearby ALDI supermarket car park and followed the adjacent lane past Calasanctious college down to the castle. It was one of those occasions that there was no access but the castle is to interesting looking that it was impossible not to take a walk around its exterior and see how well placed the castle is. Looking seaward it has a wide view of the bay and would have given plenty of notice to those inside of an oncoming attack. 

To find the castle take the N67 road that runs between Clarinbridge and Galway and take the left turn onto the R338 to Oranmore. Drive on down the main street and take a left turn at the Poppyseed Cafe. This is Castle street. If you want to park at the ALDI then take the second turn right. To reach the castle continue on foot down Castle street past the College until you reach the castle and the access to the pier.