Renvyle Castle

Tower House

This 13-14th century tower house ruin stands on the northwestern-most point of Connemara and commands views across the Atlantic Ocean to county Mayo and perhaps even Donegal. The NE corner of the four-story castle has fallen making the structure unsafe for much exploration, and the frisky attention of a Connemara pony colt hastened a quick retreat to the car after repeated attempts to "sample" my camera on the rather steep and hoof-pocked terrain. The colt was obviously expressing his preference for my Canon over Jim's Nikon - next time I'll bring an apple. We could however ascertain that the SE corner contained a spiral stairway, and it appears that the western side of the tower contained great halls while the eastern side contained smaller rooms. There is a vaulted ceiling above the second floor and the top floor is in such ruin that only the corbels for the bartizans remain.

The origin of this castle seems seeped in mystery. Known as an O'Flaherty Castle, a legend suggests that the O'Flaherty's took it from the Joyce Clan after massacring all but one attendee at a wedding held there. The O'Flahertys were one of the oldest and most powerful Gaelic clans in Connaught. The castle is best known for being the home of Donal O'Flaherty and Grace O'Malley (Granuaile Ni Mhaille), the legendary Irish pirate queen, who married in about 1546. The marriage ended with the controversial murder of Donal. The O'Flaherty's then left their home at Renvyle Castle and moved to the site that is now Renvyle House Hotel, while Grace returned to O'Mhaille territory in Mayo.

Situated: From Letterfrack take the Renvyle Road through Tullycross. Drive to the end of the road keeping to your right through Renvyle.

Discovery Map 37: L 6566 6383. Last visit April 2012.

Longitude: 10° 1' 48" W

Latitude: 53° 36' 26" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

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