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Ballymote Castle
 

County

Sligo

Coordinates

N 54° 05' 15.8"   W 008° 31' 10.4"

Nearest town

Ballymote

Grid Ref.

G 66051 15525

Map No.

25

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

69

Date of visit

Thursday 5 June 2014

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The castle is at the end of a cul-de-sac. The entrance is locked by a fence and a gate.


We came here for the first time on May 8th, 2002, and I remember that the castle was closed just like this time. But we saw some boys and girls wandering among the ruins and when we arrived at the gate they jumped out quickly, so quickly that two of those young boys had parts of their tracksuits stuck onto one of the fence bars and they got torn open when they jumped down. Some others crawled under the gate to get out.
The castle was built around 1300, it was the last Norman castle built in this region in order to protect the newly won possessions of Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster (also known as the Red Earl).
The entrance faces north-northeast (20°) and had two twin D-shaped towers. The curtain wall had four three-quarter round corner towers and one half tower in the middle of the east and west walls.
The walls are about 3 metres thick and passages run through them and at different level in order to defend the castle under every condition. It might have had domestic buildings in the courtyard, but none of them survives.
The castle changed hands many times during its life. A few years after its building it was captured by the O'Connors of Sligo, but 30 years later it was taken by the Mac Diarmada and 34 years later again it was taken by the McDonaghs, and again among them in the following centuries.
The Book of Ballymote, now in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, was partly compiled at the castle around 1390. This 275 pages manuscript was written by the scribes Solam Ó Droma, Robertus Mac Sithigh and Magnus Ó Duibhgennain and contains a chronolgy of the Irish history, from the migration of Lost Israelites to Europe, to the life of Irish saints, the history of important families and kings, written both in prose and verse.
It's possible to walk all around the ruins in the beautiful park.


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