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Castles of Ireland
Carlow Castle, Co.Carlow

Carlow Castle Built by William Marshall in 1208, only half of the original keep remains today. The original fortification on he site of the castle included the outer curtain walls of the castle around the edge of the bailey, and probably a towered gate building to the west and another to the east.

There were towers and buildings such as a hall, an exchequer house, a prison and a kitchen. It was usual custom in Norman Castles to use the vault or dungeon as the prison, but the prison in Carlow seems to have been a separate wooden building within the bailey.

The basement probably contained the armoury, the larder and the buttery, as well as the storerooms. On the first floor was the great hall.

William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, earned the praise of all who knew him, both friend and foe. He married Isobel de Clare, the only daughter of Strongbow, and had five sons. After the year 1300, the role of Carlow Castle began to be less of an administrative centre. It became the headquarters of a military base at one stage, and it crumbled not under the command of the military, but a Dr. Middleton. Middleton obtained a lease on it in 1814, and who characteristically projected the transmutation of it into a Maison de Sante for the reception of lunatics, applied blasts of gunpowder for enlarging the windows and diminishing the walls, and brought down two-thirds of the pile into a rubbishy tumulus in memory of his surpassing presumption and folly.

Castle Kirk, Co. Galway

Castle Kirk, Co. Galway Castle Kirk was a very early Irish castle of the O'Flaherty clan, dating from the 12th century. Built upon a peninsular island in Lough Corrib, it was almost impregnable

Castlemore's Castle, Co. Carlow

Built towards the end of the twelfth century by Raymond le Gross. Raymond was the leader of the Normans when they invaded Ireland in 1170.

Among the lands granted to him was the Barony of Forth O'Nolan in County Carlow, where he built a strong mote-and-bailey castle. He married Strongbow's sister, Basilia de Clare in 1175 and lived at his castle. They also built a Church nearby at Rathsillan, but only the ruins and the cemetery remains.

Rathsillan was known as Castletown or Fothered; but eventually became known as Castlemore. The old mote of Castlemore stands close to the road, eastward from Carlow to Tullow. On all sides there is a steep and difficult climb, but the panoramic view makes it worthwhile. Nothing in the whole landscape betrays the historical importance of the spot, except the old mote itself - and the ancient graves of a country graveyard which are all that remain.

Castletown Castle, Co. Galway

Castletown Castle, Co. Galway

Cromwell's artillary left very little of the 13th century Castletown castle in the 1650's.

This was a place Lady Gregory said she loved to be.

It is near Kiltartan in South Galway, south of Gort.

Cloughoughter Castle, County Cavan

Cloughoughter Castle Tucked away in a remote corner of the Erne River system, on a tiny island in Lough Oughter, stands the ruined circular tower of Cloughoughter - a modest-sized castle with a surprisingly prominent history. It was probably begun by William Gorm de Lacy between 1200 and 1224, possibly on the site of a crannog, after the Normans seized parts of the O'Rourke kingdom of Breifne. The lower two storeys can be ascribed to this phase; it had loops but no entrance on the ground floor, three doorways and at least two windows at first-floor level and possibly a curtain wall on the west side.

From 1233 until the end of the seventeenth century, the territory of East Breifne, roughly today's County Cavan, fell under the control of the O'Reilly clan, who built up the castle to its present height. It played an important role in the dynastic power struggles of the O'Reillys and in conflicts with their former overlords, the O'Rourkes of West Breifne, and during this time also served as a grim prison, where some unfortunates were incarcerated for years. When Philip O'Reilly was held here in the 1360s he had "no allowance save a sheaf of oats for day and night and a cup of water, so that he was compelled to drink his own urine".

After the Flight of the Earls in 1607, the castle was captured by Sir Richard Wingfield and granted to Captain Hugh Culme, who built himself a residence on the south shore of the lake. In the 1641 Rebellion the castle was captured by the O'Reillys and used again as a prison; here the old Bishop of Kilmore, William Bedell, together with his two sons, his son-in-law and Arthur Culme, were kept in irons in a "cold, wet and windy room almost at the top of the tower". It was the last stronghold to fall in the Cromwellian wars and immediately afterwards, in March 1653, was rendered useless by a massive explosion of gunpowder.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the picturesque ivy-clad ruin was depicted by a number of artists, including William Ashford, whose fine painting of the castle c. 1790 hung at Fota until recently.

Excavation was carried out to facilitate conservation works on the walls in 1987, most of the finds were of seventeenth century date, including four human skeletons, three male and one female, all evidently casualties of the final fatal siege of 1653. Located on an island in Lough Oughter 3 miles SE of Killeshandra and S of Killykeen Forest Park the castle is a National Monument and there is open access.