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Thoor Ballylee Castle
 

County

Galway

Coordinates

N 53° 06' 11.2"   W 008° 46' 29.8"

Nearest town

Gort

Grid Ref.

M 48147 06089

Map No.

52

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

29

Date of visit

Monday 9 June 2014

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The tower house seen from across Streamstown River. A lovely bridge is next to the tower. The castle was one of the filming locations for the movie "The Quiet Man" (1952) by John Ford. See the movie from time 1:05:39 to 1:06:22, when Mary Kate Danaher and Sean Thornton run across the water, for this same point of view. In the movie the windows of the castle had no blinds and an old cart rests in the river.


This tower house was built by the de Burgo family in the 15th or 16th century on the right bank of Streamstown River. It has four storeys connected by an internal spiral stairway.
It is famous mainly because it had been the residence of William Butler Yeats and his wife Georgie Hyde-Lees and their children Ann and Michael for almost nine years.
Yeats purchased the tower in 1916 for £35 and along with the architect William Scott restored it to meet his needs, but leaving much of the structure intact. The windows on the ground floor were made larger so that Yeats could get more light in the morning.
The poet changed the name of the tower house from Ballylee Castle to Thoor Ballylee, thus linking the place to more Irish roots.
The tower house has a square plan with measures of 8.30 metres on its sides. On its northeast (30°) side there's a four arches bridge built in 1825.
Yeats had a plaque carved and set into the southeast (120°) wall as a reminder for all those who visit the place of what it was before him and after him.
The presence of the river close to the foundations of the tower gives the building a damp look.
When we first came here on December 8th, 1995, we saw it on a cold and humid day, but a warmer day makes no difference.
This place was also a filming location for the movie "The Quiet Man" (1952), by John Ford.


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