Traditional Irish Name

Baile Uí Aillionain – O’Hallinan’s town.

Associated Families



BaronyConnello Lower.
Civil ParishRathkeale.
TownlandBallyallinan North.
OS Map RefSheet 29.

Protected Structure Record

Reg. No: N/A.
Ref.  No: N/A.


Ballyallinan is a 15th-century rectangular-shaped tower house.

Traditionally a castle of the MacSheehy clan, who were gallowglass (mercenary soldiers) brought into Limerick about 1420 by James FitzGerald, earl of Desmond.

It is also claimed that Ballyallinan was built by, and gets its name from the O’Hallinans, but this was dismissed by another as ‘a mere guess from the name’.1

The most notable architectural features are the box machicolations, or bartizans on the fifth floor level at the east and west corners.


Parts of the walls are damaged and one box machicolation is destroyed (see Image Gallery for both views). The entrance is sealed.


The castle is on private land. Permission is required.

Historical Timeline

1569-70:Castle held by Rory MacSheehy, ‘Chief Constable of the Geraldines’, when it surrendered to crown forces during the first Desmond rebellion.2
1570:MacSheehy pardoned by Elizabeth I.
1581:Rory MacSheehy, captain of the earl of Desmond’s gallowglass, shot through the shoulder during the second Desmond rebellion.
1582:MacSheehy, along with his wife and son, are pardoned.
1591:MacSheehy’s son, Murrogh, inherits Ballyallinan.
1596:MacSheehys are heavily involved in the Nine Years War against the English. They kidnap and hold crown allies as ransom, in exchange for captured Irish allies.
1600:Two of the MacSheehys, along with the Súgán earl of Desmond, captured by Dermod O’Connor.
They are kept as hostages at Castle Lishen. O’Connor also takes Ballyallinan Castle.
1614:Castle and lands granted to Sir John King.
1631:Charles I regrants estate to Murrogh MacSheehy.
1655:Castle and lands owned by Ellen Butler Sheehy, a widow.
1656:Estate leased by John Odell.


1 Fitzgerald, History of Limerick, 357; Westropp, ‘Ancient Castles … Limerick’, n.2, 319.
2 E. Hogan (ed.), Description of Ireland … Anno 1598 (1878), 199.


All historical information is compiled from archival material; primary sources (such as State Papers); secondary sources; plus authoritative digital sources (such as CELT). Any direct quote or a further reading suggestion is footnoted.

For queries, suggested amendments, or other relevant information, or if you would like to contribute an archival image of Ballyallinan Castle (of which you own the copyright), please leave a comment at the bottom of the page, or email (below).


Image Gallery

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Castle location on map

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