Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland
Northburgh Castle is set on a rocky platform near the mouth of Lough Foyle and the village of Greencastle overlooking Magilligan Strand. It is 25 miles north of Londonderry on the northern tip of Ireland.
The original castle was considered particularly great due to its scale, intricate towers and gatehouse. Unfortunately the sandstone castle was very badly damaged by cannon fire and very little remains of the original building apart from parts of the curtain wall and the remains of a small Norman church.
One of the best views to really appreciate what the castle was like is that from the shore of the Lough.
Northburgh Castle is open 10am until 6pm in July and August when guided tours are also available but closed on Mondays and Fridays.
Northburgh Castle is the Anglo-Norman name for the castle which is also called Greencastle, built in 1305 by Richard de Burgo or the Red Earl of Ulster as he was known. The site was chosen so as to have control over Lough Foyle and in particular to control the O’Neill and O’Donnell clans.
Robert Bruce captured the castle in 1316 on behalf of the Scots only to lose it again. In 1328 the Earl’s grandson William had the title of Earl and immediately arranged for Walter de Burgh of Connacht; his distant cousin, to be arrested and brought to Northburgh where he slowly starved him the death. During this time William’s sister was also found dead on the rocky shore underneath the battlements and it is believed that she was fell to her death; either by accident or not, after trying to bring food to Walter.
William was subsequently murdered by Walter’s family in 1333. His death brought an end to the de Burgo’s in Ireland as the remaining family was forced to flee to England. After their departure the castle was controlled by the dependents of the O’Donnell clan, the O’Doherty family.
During conflicts with the Scots and within the family itself the castle was suffered considerable damage by cannon fire and eventually was left in ruins after the small garrison left the castle at the beginning of the 17th century.
Other Castles in the Area
Greencastle, County Donegal
Dunluce Castle, County Antrim