Mayo’s Ancient Castles Ruins

Castle Gore by Mike Searle

There were several Castles or Tower Houses in Mayo from the early centuries.  There are no longer traces of several of them ie Ahena, whilst others are just remaining ruins or even just heaps or mounds of stones.  It appears that the lineage of the Peerage is more widely available rather than the information of the actual structure of several castles.

One may peruse this site for information on several castle plus their locations ie; Ardnaree, Ballyheane, Barach, Burrishoole. Ballisnahyny, Castle Sanderson, Cloghan, Doo, Doona, Drum, Erbull Hilaser, Kinturk, Knooknalina also Rossleun;

Various other Ruins

Aghalard Castle

The Tower was built about 1490.  During 1596 it was briefly captured by Brabazon, Clanrickard also Darcy.  They abandoned the Castle as Red Hugh O Donnell approached.  The Mac Donnells owned the land up the 1800’s when Sir Guinness purchased the castle.  This site has images of the ruined castle by G. Gardner & P. Wright. (13th August 2001) [i]

Aghalard Castle or Caisleán Achadh Leathard is a ruined Tower Castle south of Castlebar.  It was built during 1490 by Mc Donnell’s of Knocknacloy descendants who originally had been Gallóglaigh to the Burke’s of Mayo.  The Castle was a three – story Tower with square Turrets.  It was enclosed by a bawn.  During 1596 the Castle was captured by Edward Brabazon, 1st Baron Ardee, Ulick Brown 3rd Earl of Claricarde also James Riabhach Darcy.  It was evacuated later as Hugh Roe O Donnell was in preparation for an attack.  The Castle was purchased during the nineteenth Century by Sir Benjamin Guinness. [ii]

There are images of Aghalard Castle ruins available to view at this link:

Ballinglen Castle Ballycastle information by the author may be assessed at this site:

Ballylahan Castle information by the author may be viewed at this link:

Brize Castle information by the author may be viewed at this link:

Castle Burke  information by the author may be viewed at this link:

Castle Carra  information by the author may be viewed at this link:

Ballykeen Castle

Ballykeen Castle or Ballikine Castle was built during the late thirteenth Century.  The powerful Burke Family acquired the castle during the fourteenth or fifteenth century.  They hired members of Clan McDonnell as protection, both clans resided in the Castle.  It was approximately twenty – four by twenty – seven feet.  There were two rooms on ground level of the Castle with an upper larger room.  Access to the building was by an outside staircase up to the second floor.  There was a four – story tower to one side.  There were slits rather than windows to allow for air filtration also as a site to fire arrows on intruders.  The interior was destroyed possibly during the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries.  Evidence of that is visible with the exposed stones at tops of windows plus carbon from burnt wood on the ground.  The castle ruins may be located at the end of a narrow path in a wooded area.  There are photos of the exterior of the ruins by Linda Mc Donnell also photos of the interior by David Mc Donnell at this site. [iii]

Caherduff Castle

Caherduff Castle or Caisleán na Cathrach Duibhe is a State – owned Tower House.  It is now a National Monument that was purchesed during 1918.  It is located north of Lough Corrib 1.3 metres northeast of Cross.  The coordinates are: 53.552185°N 9.244741°W. [iv]

This site has a map of area:

A video from 14th July 2015 by Brian Madden with Edna & Orla shows the ruins at this link:

Caharduff Castle was is mentioned on this site as ‘was vested during the year.’ (Wikipedia site) [v]

Castlemagarret Castle

This Castlemagarret Old was built in the thirteenth century as a Burke ancestral stronghold.  It was situated on the banks of the river Robe three & a half miles from Claremorris.  A bridge adjacent on the river has an inscription ‘This bridge was built in memory of Christina Lady Oranmore and Brown who died May 1st, 1887.’  Due to fire & structural damage during 1694 Geoffrey Brown build a new residence Castlemagarret New.  This Castle was unique in that it had a Moate surround.  There are traces of an old watermill that would have supplied water to the new house built on an old courtyard.  There was also an old Tower house called Castlekeel close by.  On the first floor a window was made of sandstone as distinct from the rest of the castle, it may have been a chapel window dated possibly to the twelfth century.  It was built in a three – tier fashion with a corner stairway the led to each floor with connecting stairs.  His wife Mary was a descendant of Maurice de Prendergast whose father came to Ireland with Strongbow during the Norman Invasion of 1170.  It was stated that Maurice was a most valiant Knight plus a man of his word.  He had three hundred Beech trees planed that still stand today.  His demise occurred in 1251.  According to the ‘Annals of Loch Ce’ McGarailt, McGarret or Fitzgeralds are alternate surnames.  At one time the great Garret Mor was recognized by both the English & Irish as the uncrowned King of Ireland.  At the close of the sixteenth Century the Mac Morris (Maurice) held Estates plus various Castles as well as Castlekeel & Castlemagarrett.  O’Connor Don with the McDermott’s invaded Clan Maurice (Claremorris) that resulted in the death of Richard Mac Maurice also the loss of two hundred of his men.  Both castles were taken plus ten horses & one thousand of his cattle stolen.  This Castle is protected at this time (2002) with a Preservation Order, there is a possibility that restoration may proceed. [vi]

The castle was erected by Geoffrey Henry Brown JP DL (1861 – 1927) to a design by Richard Francis Orpen Dublin.  An early cut stable block had the initials of Geoffrey Brown. (1664 – 1755)  This site details the additions to the house over several years including the streamlined battlements embellished with a multi – faceted roofline, the scale of openings on each floor, plus the figurative panels that traced the Brown Peerage back to Norman times.  There was Neo – classical Plasterwork in the residence.  The chimney pieces were supplied by Hicks of Dublin.  The Estate included a courtyard, a walled garden, gate lodges plus nearby bridge.  [vii]

When the fire of 1811 destroyed the original castle of 1694, the current residence was established.  The unexpected designs of 1811 were believed to have been by Richard Morrisson but signed by Owen Fahy.  Richard Orpen extended the building during 1907.  It was in the Brown family possession until sold to the Irish Land Commission during the 1960’s. [viii]

The eighteenth Woodstock Estate in the parish of Crossboyne that is in the Barony of Clanmorris. was near to Castlemagarret Castle which was the seat of Lord Oranmore & Brown.[ix]

Castle Gore

The old Burke Deel Castle was situated on the River Deel.  It was granted to the Gore family at the latter end of the seventeenth century.  An addition of a Long wing was built during the eighteenth century then renamed Gore Castle.  The Castle along with lands was leased also during the eighteenth century to James Cuffe Lord Tyrawley.  According to Wilson it was ‘The pleasant Seat of the Earls of Arran, now occupied by Rt. Hon James Cuff.’  The castle was occupied by his Steward during part of the nineteenth century.  At the time of Griffith’s Valuation, it was valued at £60.   Slater referred to it as the ‘Seat of the Earls of Arran.’  This site includes a list of printed sources ie.: Parliamentary Papers.  In 1666 the Gores were granted extensive estates, over fourteenth thousand, seven hundred acres, in the barony of Tirawley, County Mayo under the Acts of Settlement.  During 1686 the Manor of Castle-Gore was created from these estates & other lands purchased by the Gores.  They also acquired the Manor of Belleek from the O’Haras, Barons Tyrawley.  Their Mayo estates were located in the parishes of Ardagh, Ballysakeery, Addergoole and Crossmolina.  During the nineteenth century much of their estate was let to middlemen or administered by agents due to the Gore’s absentee landlord Saunders’ estate in county.  The family’s main agent was John Perkins of Ballybroony near Ballina through the 1830’s.  By1876 the Earl of Arran owned twenty – nine thousand, six hundred & forty – four acres in Mayo.

Further information is available at these sources:

Trinity College, Dublin – Gore Earls of Arran, family & estate papers MSS7576 – 7635.

National Library, Dublin – Gore Papers that include surveys, lists of leases, for Mayo, title deeds from eighteenth & nineteenth centuries.

Mayo County Council Copy Marriage Settlement Earl of Arran & Elizabeth Napier, including schedules of estates in Co. Mayo 26th February 1838 Ref.  346. 016.

National Library, Dublin – Gore Papers, rentals of Gore family, Earls of Arran, May 1850 – 1900 (unsorted Collection) PC, 600 – 12,665.

National Archives of Ireland – Solicitor’s Collection Collins & Ward includes mortgaging of lands at Ballassee in Co. Mayo, Gore to Lehunte 1757 Acc 1165,

National Archives of Ireland – Earl of Arran in account with William Johnson  for half yearly rental estates ending May 1817 also map & survey of Rathmoreney in the Barony of Tyrawley by descendants of Sir A. Gore Bt, 1754 small Accession Index 1/671 (75) & (92.)

National Archives of Ireland – Diary of Agent of Earl of Arran 1858 – 1898. BR. Dons 11.

National Archives of Ireland – Solicitor’s Papers re associated families including Gore 1611 – 1957 Acc. 1165. [x]

Castle Gore was a three story over basement Country House for James Cuff MP.  It was burnt down during 1922.  Further damage to ruins occurred when the Local Authority unsuccessfully tried to demolish it with dynamite during 1950’s.  There is an image on this site. (Mike Searle) [xi]

Castle Gore in Crossmolina, Co. Mayo was in the possession of Arthur Gore 6th Earl of Arran.  It was attacked during 1922 but never rebuilt. [xii]

Crossmolina Castle

The Combro – Norman sect the Barrett’s established a Castle at Crossmolina along with an Augustinian Priory during 1300.  O’ Donnell of Tirconnell captured Crossmolina & Castlehill during 1526.  Richard Burke of Castlehill opposed the Burkes of Tirawley in their revolt against the English with a resultant battle of 1586 which the Irish lost. (extract from Crossmolina Historical & Archaeological Society) [xiii]

Lewis states that there were  ruins of an old castle at Kildavarrogue. [xiv]

Crossmolina or Crois Úi Mhaoiliona means Cross of Mullany.  The Castle passed into the Bourke Family during the fifteenth century.  Crossmolina Castle was situated opposite St. Mary’s Church in Church Street.  It was destroyed by O ‘Donnell of Tir Conail during 1526.  ‘The Annals of Lough Ce’ (?) reported on the event during 1526.  It was not rebuilt but some structural ruins remain.  The Bourke’s constructed a replacement at Deel Castle.  However, during 1690 it was granted to the Anglo – Protestant Gore family as Bourke had fought for the Catholic Jacobite’s. [xv]

Deel Castle information by the author may be viewed at this link:

Doon Castle

Doon Castle was a ‘Fort Castle’ that sat on a hill in the townland of that name in the parish of Aughagower approximately four miles from Westport.  The space on the hill was in the shape an ellipse forty to sixty yards by twenty yards, it was rectangular.  It measured forty feet by twenty – seven feet.  The Castle was one hundred & fifty feet in height.  It provided excellent views of the Islandeady, Aille areas where McPhilpin castles were.  During 1133 Cormac MacCarthy with Conor O ‘Brien invaded Connaught.  They destroyed Dun Mughdhord.  The Norman castle appeared to have been built on the site of the old Irish Dun Mughdhord in the parish of Dooncastle.  According to local accounts the stones of the castle were removed by Lord Sligo to erect Westport House.  Knox in his ‘History of Mayo’ mentioned that the McPhilpin held castles in Aille, Doon, Aingle in the Barony of Burrinshoole plus Bellabourke with the New Castle near Castlebar in the Barony of Carra.  One may read further information at these publications below.  ‘The history of the County of Mayo to the close of the Sixteenth Century’ 1908 Hubert Thomas pages. 45 & 301 also in ‘Aughagower’  Keville John Cathair na Mart Journal Vol 3. [xvi]  The Coordinates of the castle were 53.79 68 N,  9.45 50 W. [xvii]

Inver Castle

Inver Castle or An Tibhear was situated close to the shore on the eastern side of Dún Chiortán peninsula that overlooks Trá Kurtaen ie Chiortán’s Beach.  Michael Cormuck inhabited Inver Castle during 1636. It was claimed he owned all the Erris land but the Stafford Inquisition that investigated Mayo land ownership during the early seventeenth century stated that the Bishop had ‘a right of the sea around Erris.’  The castle was destroyed by 1802, it was never rebuilt.  The only ruins now are its Gate Posts.  It is believed that the stones were removed as several cottages nearby were constructed with well – masonries stone blocks. [xviii]

Kinlough Castle

Kinlough Castle was built near a church in the Neale.  It was described by John Brown on a 1584 map as a ‘Mac William House.’  The Mac William Eigher who was then Sir John Fitz – Oliver Burke resided there during 1574.  The next occupant was Sir Richard in 1618.  His son Walter mortgaged it to Sir Valentine Blake of Menlough during 1628.  During 1668 Sir Thomas Blake leased it to John Darcy.  The lands were purchased by Pierce Joyce in 1852. [xix]

On this site it is stated that perhaps Kinlough Castle was a thirteenth century castle.  Two additional story’s with corner fireplaces were remodelled during 1574 by Sir John MacOliver Burke.  There were gunloops in the massive battered base plus the entrance had a drawbar slot.  The Blake family mortgaged the castle during 1629 them leased it to John Darcy in 1668. [xx]

Kinlough Castle or Caislean Chionn was a sixteenth Tower House built in the sixteenth century.  It was located on the Black River 3.2 southwest of Cong.  It is believed that the Tower was constructed during the thirteenth AD.  The castle was four stories in height, with gables at the east & west walls but no crenulations. There were traces of bartizan in the West wall.  The building had three chimney stacks.  During 1574 Sir John Mac Oliver Burke remodelled the building.  An additional two – story building with corner fireplaces as an addition at that time.  The entrance had a drawbar slot, there are loops in the ballered base.  The castle was mortgaged to Blakes in 1629 then leased to John Darcy during 1668.  In a map of 1584, the castle was described as a ‘MacWilliam.’  Sir John FitzOliver Burke ‘The MacWilliam Eighter’ resided there in 1574.  Sir Richard FitzOliver Burke was the next occupant, followed by his son Walter who mortgaged it during 1628 to Sir Valentine Blake of Menlough.  Sir Thomas Blake leased it to John Darcy in 1668.  Pierce Joyce purchased the lands during 1852.  The coordinates are 53. 498559 N 9. 116540 W. [xxi]

Moyne Castle

Moyne Castle stands on the Black River surrounded by six quarters of castle lands.  It was a large square Tower House with a spiral staircase.  During 1574 David Mac Jonyn (Jennings) Blake resided there.  It was confiscated in 1585 by Ulick Earl of Clanricarde.  His successor Richard got a re – grant plus four quarters of lands in 1610.  The occupant during 1678 was George French.  The castle was mentioned in the Division of Connaught 1574 as a De Burgo Castle with William Burke as the occupant.  Thomas Blake got it on lease in 1683 from William Earl of Clanricarde.  The Blakes were in residence until their moved during 1750 to Merlin Park in Galway.  Martin K. Blake was in residence until 1838 when Patrick Henry Lynch inherited the castle.  During 1853 the Blake’s interest was sold to Joseph Burke & Paul Ward. [xxii]

Rappa Castle information by author may be viewed at this link:

Shrule Castle information by author may be viewed at this link:


These sites have a List of castles or castle ruins:

Lee Johnson lists Castles at this site:

There are Mayo castles listed in alphabetical order at this link:

Castles in County Mayo are listed on this site:

Images of several castles by Mike Searles may be view at his site;


[i] Aghalard Castle ( [assessed 12th February 2020]

[ii] Aghalard Castle ( [assessed 12th February 2020]

[iii] Ballykine Castle ( [assessed 2nd June 2020]

[iv] Caharduff Castle ( [assessed 7th June 2020]

[v] Caharduff Castle (  [assessed 7th June 2020]

[vi] Castlemagarret, Claremoris ( [assessed 19th March 2020]

[vii] Castlemagarret ( ) [assessed 19th March 2020]

[viii] 1811 ( ) [assessed 19th March 2020]

[ix] Estate Brown Woodstock ( [assessed 21st March 2020]

[x] Gore Castle ( [assessed 2nd July 2020]

[xi] Castle Gore ( [assessed 2nd July 2020]

[xii] Castle Gore [assessed 2nd July 2020]

[xiii] Crossmolina History ( [assessed 17th May 2020]

[xiv] Crossmolina ( [assessed 17th May 2020]

[xv] Crossmolina Castle ( [assessed 17th May 2020]

[xvi] Doon Castle ( ) [assessed 12th February 2020]

[xvii] Doon Castle ( ) [assessed 12th February 2020]

[xviii] Townlands of Kilcommon ( [assessed 77h May 2020]

[xix] Shrule History ( ) [assessed 12th February 2020]

[xx] Kinlough Castle ( [assessed 2nd July 2020]

[xxi] Kinlough Castle ( [assessed 7th May 2020]

[xxii] Shrule History ( [assessed 12th February 2020]

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