Traditional Irish Name

Baile Uí Bhuadhacháin – O’Boyhan’s town.

Associated Families



Civil ParishRathronan.
OS Map RefSheet 28.

Protected Structure Record

Reg. No: N/A.
Ref.  No: N/A.


Ballyvoghan Castle was originally a stronghold of the Norman family of Herbert/Hubbert.

The ruin today measures roughly on the inside 24 feet by 19 feet 6 inches. The walls are now only 25 feet high. Ballyvoghan fits into the category of truncated castles (see Ballinoe, Ballyegnybeg and Ballyguilleataggle).
Although ‘the arched over the ground floor’ was extant in 1840, only one upper arched floor now remains.1

Interesting architectural features included an impressive segmental-arched doorway measures approx. 6 feet in thickness, The narrow wall stair, missing some of its first steps, leads to a surviving subsidiary chamber in the side turret at first floor-level, which houses a latrine.

There is a broken arch in the demolished section of wall on the wall-stair; this is the remains of a doorway that originally led into the lobby at the foot of the steps.
Another feature of interest is ‘the corbelled roof on the stairway’, which ‘is very crude’, notes Colm Donnelly, and unlike any other castle elsewhere in Limerick (see Image Gallery).2


The castle is fairly gutted internally, but (as noted above) retains some of its medieval fabric. A section is embedded into a farm building, and the building is almost completely overgrown with vegetation.


The castle lies on a farm. Permission is required.

Historical Timeline

1582:Garrett McMorrice Herbert was a tenant on these lands under the earl of Desmond until the earls’s death in 1583.
1586:Although Garrett Herbert was still resident at Ballyvoghan, he had rebelled against the crown during the Desmond rebellion and subsequently lost his lands.
1595:Castle and lands granted to Captain Robert Cullum, one of Elizabeth I’s English undertakers.
1612:Estate in the hands of Oliver Stephenson, another Tudor plantation family in Limerick. The Stephensons had converted to Catholicism by the early 17th century.
1655:Ballyvoghan Castle and lands owned by Robert Stephenson of Dunmoylan, a leading Irish Catholic Confederate soldier during the 1640s.
1658:The Stephenson family lose their estates in the Cromwellian settlement.
1666:Ballyvoghan Castle and lands granted to Daniel O’Brien, son and heir of Conor, Lord Viscount O’Brien of Clare. (O’Brien is also granted the castle, town and lands of nearby Cahermoyle).
1669:The Stephenson family petition to claim back the estate from Lord Clare. The lands of Ballyvoghan was leased to Richard Stephenson in 1736 by Robert Morgan of Callow.3


1 Ordnance Survey Letters, Rathronan parish, 74.
Additional information (by email correspondence) kindly provided by Dr Colm Donnelly, Queens University, Belfast.
3 Westropp, ‘Ancient Castles … Limerick’, 395.


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 Ballyvoghan 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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If you have any difficulty in viewing images, please contact us (above).

Castle location on map

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