Aughnanure Castle (Caisleán Achadh na nlubhar)

Aughnanure Castle

Location: Oughterard Map

Constructed: 16th century by O'Flahertys


Aughnanure Castle is a medieval tower house in a town of Oughterard in a Galway County in Ireland. Aughnanure Castle was constructed in the 16th century by a powerful O'Flaherty clan. The castle was erected by O'Flaherty, one of Connacht's most influential families in the 16th century. Onaneir is one of more than 200 residential towers in Galway County, created primarily by Gaelic and Old English landowner families. The tower is located off the coast of Loch Corrib, the castle belonged to the O’Flaherty family until 1572, after which it was captured by Sir Edward Fitton Sr. and granted to one of the younger members of the clan, a follower of the crown. It was used during the siege of Galway during the Cromwell invasion of Ireland. A little later, he was granted the Earl of Clanricard, and then returned to O’Flaherty. At the moment, it is managed and protected by state institutions for the protection of historical and cultural monuments.



The castle is one of the best preserved examples of what is known as an 'Irish tower house'. She is standing on a flat ledge. There are remarkable caves under the rock. The plan of the tower house is nearly square with a spur at the northwest corner where the River Drimneen forms an access barrier. Two segments of the outer wall still exist, the older being enclosed by a younger, much larger one.


The tower house

In the courtyard near the gate, near the river, is the six-storey, rectangular tower house. Its two flanking towers reach up to medium height. The walls taper towards the top and the parapet, to which cast oriels are attached, is crenellated. The entrance to the tower can be defended inside by a so-called "murder hole" in the ceiling. Behind the door is a guard room on the right and a spiral stone staircase to the upper rooms on the left. The ground floor was used as a storage room. The upper floors are divided into living and sleeping areas. The floor with the large open fireplace and the split windows served as the living room.


The outdoor area

Along the west side of the wall are the remains of a banquet hall. The hall was destroyed when the natural vault over the river collapsed. Only one wall with a row of windows remained. The frames are decorated with foliage motifs and other ornaments reminiscent of ornate Irish manuscripts and testify to the importance of the structure. In the inner courtyard there is another small round tower with a carefully worked corbelled ceiling and a conical stone roof (in the foreground of the picture). At the east end of the outer wall is another flank tower.



The castle's predecessor was probably built by the Norman Walter de Burgo, the first Earl of Ulster, who took possession of the area around Lough Corrib in 1256. The expulsion of the local clan, the O'Flahertys, was short-lived. At the end of the 13th century they became lords of West Connacht for three centuries. Between the 14th and 16th centuries, the castle and its predecessor were in their possession.

The legendary pirate "Granuaile", real Grace O'Malley, married "Donal an Chogaidh" O'Flaherty in 1546, aged 16, creating a link between the two most powerful seafaring clans in western Ireland. In the mid 16th century the English became aware of "Morogh na-dtuath" (Morrough of the Battleaxes) an O'Flaherty plundering the English holdings near Lough Corrib. In 1564 he defeated the English troops sent against him in Trabane (white beach). In 1569 he was granted pardon-general and Elizabeth I (1533-1603), although descended from a subsidiary line of the O'Flahertys, made him lord of West Connacht. In return, he pledged to keep the "Queen's Peace". The O'Flahertys' rightful title contenders were enraged at his betrayal. With the sons of the Earl of Clanrickard they planned a rebellion against the "Cailleach Granda", as they called the Queen. Morogh learned of the plans and passed them on to "Sir Edward Fitton" who, with all men and cannon at his disposal, set out and laid siege to Aughnanure, which was held by the rightful chief of the O'Flahertys. After taking the castle, he gave it to Morogh, who reinforced it and made it his headquarters.

After the inheritance of Aughnanure was awarded by the Crown to the Earl of Clanickard, the latter leased the land to Brian O'Flaherty in 1687. In 1719 the earl sold the basic rights to Brian. He had borrowed the money from Lord St George and when the mortgage expired he became the owner of much of the land. In 1952 Peter O'Flaherty gave the castle to the Public Works Commission for preservation as a State Monument. In 1963 the repairs began. Among other things, parapets and chimneys were secured, and a parking lot and today's entrance to the castle were created.



The people of Galway were so afraid of the O'Flahertys that they are said to have carved the words 'God save us from the wild O'Flahertys!' over the west gate to the city.