Moygara Castle




N 53° 58' 18.18"   W 008° 28' 30.54"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

G 68826 02597

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Friday 15 June 2018

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ruins of Moygara Castle seen from a distance, from the north-northwest. This is probably the best point of observation for the ruins.

Moygara Castle is a fortified building with a bawn wall that encloses a rectangular area measuring approximately 55 metres by 50 metres, four corner towers and a gatehouse.
The name Moygara derives from the Irish Magh Oò Gadhra, meaning "The Plain of the O'Gara". The O'Gara was a branch of the ancient people (Túath) known as the Luíghne.
Since the 16th century this area was the seat of the lordship of Cúl ó bhFionn, the barony known today with the name of Coolavin.

There is little information on who actually built the castle that we see today.
A mention of a castle owned by one O'Gara is from 1256, when David Cushing, an Anglo Norman, killed Ruaidhrì Oò Gadhra, his foster son, king of Sliabh Lugha, and destroyed his castle.
There is no mention on where this early castle was.
According to the Annals of Connacht, another Ruaidhrì Ua Gadhra was killed by Mac Feorais, another Anglo Norman, in 1285, in the area of the Lough Gara.

The first mention of a castle at Moygara is in 1538, when the Annals of Connacht tell of Niall Garb O'Donnell (O Domnaill) killed at Magh Oò Gadhra. Niall was going back to Donegal, and moving around Moygara, after capturing the castle of Sligo and destroying the area of Moylurg (Magh Luirg) when he was killed by a gun shot under the walls of the castle.

In 1581 Cathal Oòg O'Conor attacked an army of Scottish mercenaries at Loch Feeny, and a result of this attack the mercenaries retreated to Coolavin, where they attacked the Gaelic Lords of Connacht and killed several people, among them Diarmait Oòg, son of Cian O'Gara, and burned Caislèan Mhaighe h-I Ghadra, Moygara Castle.

The last owner of this castle was Fearghal Oò Gadhra, when he was evicted by the Cromwell's army in 1654.

The castle is in ruins on the side of a low hill. The entrance is through the remains of a gatehouse on the west-northwest (290°) side of the bawn wall. The four corner towers are still visible, although to different degrees of preservation. The one at the west-southwest (245°) corner is the most interesting, it's the tallest of the four and has an interesting corbelled corner.
All four towers can be explored.
Another entrance is in the wall opposite to the gatehouse.
Against the inner side of the north-northeast wall there are the remains of a residential building.
There are several gun loops in all walls.

The interior of the enclosed area has no other details.

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