The local history of this Irish Castle reflects some crucial moments in the larger scale history of Ireland over a number of centuries.
Annaghdown Castle seen above from the air is a 15th
century Norman style tower house. The owners, Jessica Cooke and Sean
Faughnan had parts of the castle carbon dated during their archaeological
excavation of the site. The sample from the ground floor was dated to 1440.
It was traditionally assumed that Annaghdown Castle was probably built by the De Burgo
family, some people even linked it with the O'Flaherty's who were pushed westwards by the De Burghos.
Recently however, Jessica has undertaken more research and found out that Annaghdown Castle was actually built for an Anglo-Norman bishop who was backed by the DeBurgho's. The bishop was settled across from the much older monastery in a statement about the 'new order'.
Come on in! Jessica inviting us into the castle grounds at the bawn gate.
Annaghdown had strategic importance. Holding Annaghdown
meant controlling this part of the lake and whoever had control here, controlled
the access to Galway. The main access route to Galway was by water. The
current road from Galway was not built until the early 20th century.
Main door at Annaghdown Castle. In the past there was a grate in front of it that could be pulled tight from the inside as an extra layer of defense.
The nearby monastery (first founded by Saint Brendan
in the sixth century) had been the cathedral of the O’Flaherty’s. By the
thirteenth century, the bishopric of Annaghdown was absorbed by the archdiocese
of Tuam. Nonetheless, the monastery continued to be used into the late 1500’s,
well after the Dissolution, supported by its own lands.
There must have been a bit of a stand off between the monastery and the newly built castle, but the monastery continued to thrive for some time.
In defiance of the Anglo-Norman bishop, a round tower was built at the monastery. Jessica Cooke recently discovered the foundations of the tower.
Near the castle was a holy well, Saint Brendan’s well, and the
monks used to go on procession to the well for the saint's feast day.
Irish castle, Annaghdown, County Galway, downstairs vaulted room, now used as a kitchen. Once upon a time this was a spance for storage or for housing animals.
At some stage the castle did end up in the hands of the DeBurgho's. The De Burgos were a landowning Anglo-Norman family that owned a
number of castles and moved from place to place throughout the year.
Sometime in the 16th century howerever, they sold the castle on to
the Lynch family, another wealthy landowning family and
one of the Galway tribes.
The Lynches were onee of the 'Galway Tribes' and were English speaking. They made money not
only from the land, but also from trading; they imported wine for example. The
Lynch family modernized the castle in the seventeenth-century style. They
introduced more fireplaces, enlarged windows, added the minstrel’s gallery and
changed the usage of rooms. The prison for example, was disused and became
another room at this stage. Battlements were added aiding the guarding of the
Jessica Cooke seen here guarding the battlements at her Irish castle at Annaghdown.
Jessica found a document in the Blosse-Lynch family
papers relating to this period. Eilish Lynch wrote a letter to her
husband, Roebuck Lynch informing him that she would soon be moving from
one tower house to another, and consulting him on a number of practical issues
in relation to this. Roebuck Lynch was a magistrate and away in Galway or
Dublin on business a lot of the time, while Eilish was managing the various
The Lynch family, namely Roebuck Lynch, refused to sign
the Articles of Surrender after the Cromwellian invasion of Galway. Their
lands were subsequently confiscated. Annaghdown Castle was 'decommissioned' by
Cromwell's soldiers. They pushed the battlements off and broke the main stair
case. This beautiful medieval Irish castle was never lived in again. The estate
was given to the Church of Ireland.
The last time the castle made history was during the Williamite
wars in the late 17th century. In her research, Jessica came across an
interesting document. It was the Crown’s pardon to George Stanton, the
last defender of Annaghdown Castle which, even though no longer inhabited, had
still been used as a strategic point of defense.
The Irish castle reconstruction at Annaghdown has seen the use of traditional materials and techniques, as reflected in this reconstructed timber door.
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