Ballymote Castle, County Sligo, Ireland
Ballymote Castle is situated on the western outskirts of Ballymote village, 15 miles south of Sligo in the north west of Ireland.
The castle is a large rectangular enclosure castle which is in a state of partial ruin although well preserved in parts. The symmetrical plan of the keepless castle has three quarter round towers at each corner, a double towered gate entrance in the centre of the north wall; now mostly demolished, two D shaped towers in the curtain walls to the east and west and there are also a few remains of a typical gatehouse. The castle is situated on a small amount of ground but the interior of the castle is 30 meters square.
Access to the castle can only be gained via the car park of St. John of God’s Nursing Home.
It is believed that Ballymote castle was built in the 1300’s by the Red Earl of Ulster, Richard de Burgo and was the last and greatest Norman castle in Connaught to be built.
The castle was subject to many battles and takeovers between 1317 and 1584 and left abandoned for much of the time with the two major owners being the O’Connors of Sligo and the MacDonagh clan.
Richard Bingham, governor of Connaught, took the castle on behalf of the English in 1584 and remained there for 14 years before it was surrendered once again to the MacDonagh’s. Finally the castle was sold by the MacDonagh’s to Red Hugh O’Donnell for 300 cows and £400. It was from here that he rode out to the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 leaving the castle to become badly damaged and the O’Donnell clan having to surrender to the English.
After this time the castle changed hands on many occasions, mainly between the English; for King James II and local clans. It was the Williamites who dismantled the fortifications and filled in the moat in the late 1690’s.
The castle is now classed as a National Monument and in the hands of the Office of Public Works who are responsible for its preservation.
Other Castles in the Area
Ballinafad Castle, County Sligo
MacDermotts Castle, County Roscommon
Manorhamilton Castle, County Leitrim
Parkes Castle, County Sligo