The Castles of Northern Ireland (Co Down)
It is intended that this narrative is as a three-part series of Castles in Northern Ireland.
Who built these edifices and why?
Where do these castles fit into the geographical and ancient history of Northern Ireland?
Ardglass Castle County Down
Ardglass Castle is situated in Ardglass in County Down. It was originally part of a row of 15th century warehouses at the harbour. (Large sections of the original building can still be seen within the modern club house of Ardglass Golf Club)
The 15th century castle (also known as The Newark) was converted into a castellated house at the late 1800’s by Charles FitzGerald. His mother, Emily FitzGerald, Duchess of Leinster, also lived in the castle was along with her second husband, William Ogilvie, who was tutor to her son, Lord Edward FitzGerald. Ogilvie subsequently worked to develop Ardglass as a fashionable seaside resort and port.
The block of warehouses was built to provide 14 spaces behind the quay, guarded by towers at each end, and which could be let out to resident or visiting merchants.
There are also a long range of castellated houses which are said to have been built by Shane O’Neil arrond 1580’s which stands on a rocky shore of the bay, it is thought that its walls were 4 feet deep.
On the seaside there are no windows other than narrow loop-holes, which it is thought, together with the centre and flanking towers, shows the secondary purpose of the building to have been a fortress, protecting the merchants from any piratical assailants.
The castle became the premises of Ardglass Golf Club in 1911.
Quintin Castle Strangford County Down
Quintin Castle is a castle located in County Down around 2 miles of Portaferry and is one of a very few occupied Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland.
Built by John de Courcy in 1182 the castle was later owned by the Savage family and their dependents, the Smiths.
In the early 1600’s Sir James Montgomery from Greyabbey, purchased the buildings from the Smiths. James’ son William, built a courtyard and other towers, a house adjacent to the central tower and a large kitchen in the castle. The castle was re-roofed and a new floor was added in 1658.
Local man George Ross who lived in The Mount Ross estate, purchased the estate from James but he never lived in the castle, which allowed it to nearly become a ruin. In the early 1800’s the castle was inherited by Elizabeth Calvert, who was a descendant of Ross, restored it in 1849. The central keep was raised, a walkway was made in the battlements and a dining room was constructed on the bottom floor.
Eventually the estate was purchased by the Burgess family, who lived in Quintin from the early 1932 until the 1958. An auctioneer called Skeets Martin from Belfast, owned the castle until 1971.
In 1977 the castle was used as a old people’s home, as it remained for many years until it was sold privately. The castle has been extensively refurbished and sold again in 2005.
Now owned by the Hutchinson family (from Tayto factory), the Castle is used as an 8-bedroom private function venue for weddings, visiting customers, training and conferences.
Quoile Castle County Down
Quoile Castle sits just over one mile from Downpatrick town in Co. Down. Built in the mid 1500’s the tower house was inhabited until the 17th century. Quoile Castle tower house is now a State Care Historic Monument which is in the townland of Quoile, in the Down District Council area.
The south corner of the building has now fallen and it shows a cross-section of the castle. The doorway in the north east wall has been rebuilt which then gave access to a mural stairway, murder-holes protected it at the top and bottom.
In the ground floor the inner doorway opens into a stone vault chamber and has quite a lot of small gun-loops. The first floor has 2 rooms and one of them has a fire. The second floor is reached by another stairway within the north west wall.
The castle is set the breath-taking beauty of Co Down’s coastline this beautifull refurbished 12th Century castle presents sumptuous views from its castellated walled gardens and open terraces.
The castle boasts many magnificent rooms, which have been tastefully restored, showcasing period features inside whilst accentuating the spectacular views out generous windows to the sea, bay and beautiful gardens.
Ringdufferin Castle County Down
At the end of Ringdufferin peninsula stands Castle Island which is shown on a map of Down in 1581. Sir Alexander Bailie acquired the lands of Ringdufferin 1634, from the 1st Viscount Claneboye.
At Ringdufferin its grounds include an old watch-tower, outbuildings, and large gates, built by James Baillie, that succeeded to the property in 1773.
Ringdufferin Castle was then built as a two storey building though to have been built as a lookout tower in 1794 which stands on a picturesque site by the shores of Strangford Lough, County Down.
It has a walled garden well maintained and has a large glasshouse.
The gardens have tidy gravel and grass paths and boasts wall fruit and many different plants.
Ringdufferin estate was bought by the Mackie family in 1945, who still inhabit there today.
Ringhaddy Castle County Down
Ringhaddy (meaning point of the covenant) was the site of a church of Ringhaddy at the Papal Taxation of 1305. In 1469 the castle was captured by Henry O’Neill, then transferred to MacQuillen of Dufferin.
A 1578 map of County Down showed Renaghaddy had 2 castles with a church north of the castle which is now ruined, built in the mid 1400’s. The castle of Ringhaddy and Killyleagh was owned by the Whites of Dufferin. In 1603 the castle had major work carried out by Ralph Lane in 1601.
The castle is locally known as one of the best example for a surviving tower houses in the county, retaining its gables and an original wooden window which was removed and conserved by the NIEA.
The ground floor and its stone vault can be dated to the mid 1400’s. The vault was replaced with a strong wooden floor whenever the upper portions of the castle were rebuilt sometime in 1601. The castle has been mentioned many times in the Elizabethan portions of the Calendar of State Papers and it shows that the building changed hands many times between Sir Bryan McArt and the English forces.
The premises was used to house prisoners, as a letter mentions rom a report from Constable William Debdall, of an escape from the tower in June 1601. He wrote that he had made the castle tough enough to prevent any further instance.
At one time the castle was much contested and the security of the surrounding lands depended on who owned it and how they showed their power. Today it is peaceful and tranquall with its walls now covered over with Ivy.
Walshestown Castle County Down
Walshestown Castle, Tower House and Bawn is located in the abandoned walled garden of Myra Castle. The majestic tower house dates to the late 1500’s and is written in ASCD as being oblong and four storeys high with small turrets rising higher at the north and south angles.
The buildings main structure has been considerably altered over time. Large windows, most likely in place of original ones had been inserted. The roof and internal floors had been modernised and the entrance was rebuilt at its ground level. The bawn was enclosed by a wall over one meter thick which enclosed a large area across.
Records of the castle show a Christopher Walshe living in the castle in 1618, somewhat modernised the tower house and was then used as a residence until 1893.
Strangford Castle Strangford County Down
Strangford Castle is situated on a slight hill looking down on Strangford harbour County Down, looking towards its lough from Portaferry Castle. The castle was probably built arround mid 1400’s although most of the main building dates were in the late 16th century. Strangford Castle tower house is classed as a State Care Historic Monument which is the townland of Strangford Lower, in Down District Council area.
The building seems to be a small tower house from around 1580. A rectangular tower house with no vault or stone stairway with a oven fireplace on the first floor. There is very little light on the ground floor chamber, only lit by small gun-loops. The roof has very fine crenellations for defence purposes, also with pistol-loops. The tower is almost square inside with walls that are over one metre in thickness. The tower is a height of ten metres to the north, built with rubble masonry and large boulders.
Although most of Strangford Castle was built in the 16th century, work on the ground and first floors look to be dated from the 15th century. The stone tower house which once had picturesque views over Strangford’s port and harbour towards Portaferry Castle on the opposite shoreline. Several other tower houses such as Audley’s Castle, Portaferry Castle, Kilclief, Old Castleward were strategically built in the area to guard the mouth of Strangford Lough.
Sketrick Castle Ardmillan County Down
Sketrick Castle sits on Sketrick Island close to Whiterock in County Down. The castle is thought to date back as far as the 12th century. Sketrick Castle tower house and the passage to spring are classed as red State Care Historic Monuments in the townland of Sketrick Island, in Ards and North Down Borough.
In the 1450’s it was acquired by Sir Robert Savage. Records show the castle was captured in 1469 by an army led by the O’Neill’s to assist the MacQuillans. The castle was taken and given to be looked after by MacQuillan. It was intact until 1895 when a heavy storm damaged much of it.
Originally 60 ft high, 50 ft long and 26 ft wide, the four storeys high building had a boat bay and a stone passage which wasn’t discovered until 1955. It had four chambers at ground level, one with a vault constructed on wicker centring, also a two brick-lined recesses, which were probably ovens. It had lintels running under the bawn wall to a chamber with a corbel over a fresh water spring. Some of the bawn wall still survive towards the north and the east of the castle.
Seafin Castle County Down
Seafin Castle and bailey is an adapted oval rath at arround 31 meters across, 21 high which is enclosed by a stone curtain wall. The building was at least 2 storeys high. The townland of Seafin is in the middle of the parish of Drumballyroney. Within it is the ruins of the castle which belonged to a Art Magennis in 1608. At the east end of the townland of Seafin are the ancient foundations of a large castle.
Seafin castle was involved with the rebuilding of the Anglo Norman castle of Magh Cobha (1938-88). Irish annals talk of how the castle was built in 1252, as a castle at Caeluisce (Narrow water). Magh Cobha Castle was attacked and destroyed in 1252 by Brian O’Neill who was the king of Cenél nEogain (Waterman 1955, 95). Latin documents mention of the repairing of the castle and the supplying of men after the attack.
Seafin Castle sits on a narrow curving setting formed by a double bend of the river Bann, near its junction with Drumadonnell River. The name Seafin, rather than Magh Cobha, was established by the 17th century.
Rathfriland Castle County Down
Rathfriland Castle is a ruined castle at Rathfriland, County Down. The castle was a square building of three storeys with a stone vault in the first floor level which reduced the risk of fire. It was one of the seats of the Magennis’s Lords of Iveagh. Most of the building was pulled down by William Hawkins of London after the rebellion of 1640, and the remainder destroyed by General Henry Ireton by order of Oliver Cromwell.
Its Tower House is on the ground floor which partly survive. Its walls, largely reduced to foundations remain, showing a tower 25 foot square externally. There is a chase close to the East wall which was possibly a socket for a draw-bar of the gate of a now vanished bawn.
Portaferry Castle Portaferry County Down
Portaferry Castle is a small tower house in Portaferry, County Down. Built in the 1500’s by William Le Savage Portaferry Castle tower house is a State Care Historic Monument within the townland of Ballyphilip, in the Borough of Ards. Portaferry Castle is overlooking Portaferry harbour within sight of Strangford and Audley’s Castles across Strangford Lough. Portaferry castle was built in the the mid 1500’s for the Savage family. In 1634, Sir James Montgomery of Rosemount (Patrick Savage’s brother-in-law), repaired the castle for his sister.
The three storeys high building is square with a small turret on one of its corners. Its main entrance at the base of the tower is protected by a small machicolation and the entrance to the ground floor is also protected by a murder-hole. It had a curved stairway riseing to the first floor and a spiral stairway on its west corner on to its roof. Most of the castles eastern corner is in ruins. The adjoining stable block is a Visitor Information Centre and is used for displays, sometimes featuring monuments from the area.
Margaret’s Castle County Down
Located in Ardglass County Down, Margaret’s Castle is a small tower house built in the mid 1400’s. Just 2 storeys now exist however there were 3 or more storeys high. It has a rectangular tower with pointing turrets in its north wall. The doorway between its turrets was also protected by a murder-hole. A spiral stairway rises within its west turret.
Margaret’s Castle is known as a Scheduled Historic Monument, in the townland of Ardglass Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area. Ardglass once boasted 6 castles & remains, of which 4 of them can still be seen, which include, Ardglass Castle, Cowd Castle, Margaret’s Castle and Jordan’s Castle. All of these are mentioned in this blog.
Rough Castle County Down
Moira had been a a strong settlement for at least 1,200 years. There is evidence of three such forts remaing. One of the best known of them is the “Rough Fort”, on the Old Kilmore Road. However, the remains of “Pretty Mary’s Fort” exist at the Waringfield residential area. There is also evidence of a third ringfort which can be found near Claremont.
The settlement was strategically valuable as the existence of its natural defences and view point was from on top of Moira hill.The area was subject to repeated power struggles over many centuries as the area was often fought over and eventually staged one of the largest battles in the history of Ireland. The Battle of Moira consisted of three tribal kings who contested the area to determine power in Ulster and beyond.
Shortly after the battle bishop Ronan Finn built a monastery in the area. The medieval period itself remains shrouded in mystery. It is known that the town and its hinterland were under the control of the O’Lavery Clan for many years. Major George Rawdon, who was a wealthy man from Yorkshire settled in Moira in 1631. During the Irish Rebellion of 1640 Rawdon helped English soldiers defeat the army of Sir Phelim O’Neill and took back Moira and its environs for the Crown.
Kirkistown Castle Portavogie County Down
A short distance from Cloghy village in County Down lies Kirkistown Castle. Its tower house and bawn is a state care historic monument in Ards and North Down Borough.
It is a handsome three-storey tower house, built in the 1620’s by a Norman landlord, R. Savage at the site of a 19th century. The round tower was occupied until 1730, when it was abandoned.
The tower post-dates the Plantation yet is in the late medieval tower-house tradition.
Some of the bawn wall survives with three-quarter round flanker towers at the angles.
The tower was remodelled in Gothic style in 1800 by a Col. Johnston, and in 1836 some further work was performed by a very young Master Montgomery of Grey Abbey. The building was left, however, with a partial roof and broken windows, and the elements soon returned it to disrepair. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency opened it to the public for the first time in 2001.
Narrow Water Castle Warrenpoint County Down
Narrow Water Castle is a famous 16th century tower house and bawn not far from Warrenpoint in County Down, close to the A2 and on the Co Down bank of the Clanrye River, that flows to Carlingford Lough.
In the early 13th century a keep was built onto the existing site by the first Earl of Ulster, Hugh de Lacy, to prevent attacks from the riverside. In 1568 furthur adaptations were made to the tower house and bawn. This as a typical example of the tower houses built throughout the land from the mid 14th until the mid 17th century.
Normally rectangular in plan, four or five storeys high, this kind of building comprised a series of hidden chambers. With stairs and latrines contrived within the walls whichare in excess of one metre thick in places.
The original building was destroyed in the Rebellion of 1641.
The Castle was given into state care in 1955. It is now a state care historic monument within the townland of Narrow Water, in Newry & Mourne District Council district.
Newcastle County Down
At the foot of the majestic Slieve Donard in the magical Mountains of Mourne, that inspired ‘The Cronicals Narnia’, sits the stunning seaside town of Newcastle. There is no longer a castle in the town of Newcastle. It is rich in history and an area of outstanding natural beauty and famous for its beach, modern promenade, Royal County Down golf course and Donard Forest. Castlewellan & Tollymore forest parks are also nearby.
Newcastle was first mentioned in the 1433 Annals of the Four Masters. The town that guards the mouth of the Shimna River, was already named Newcastle, inferring it may have been built upon an older fortified site.
The castle was rebuilt in 1588 by Felix Magennis to defend his lands, as denoted by an inscribed castle entrance stone. It stood proud until it was captured by Sir James Montgomery of Ards in 1642 as part of the Iris Rebellion of 1641. It was given to Sir R Hawkins. unfortunately the castle was demolished by Earl Annesley in 1831 to construct his Annesley Arms Hotel.
Newcastle has been an important harbour & port since William Pitt was Head of Customs in 1625. It has a rich history and many local legends, such as Maggie’s leap and the Brandy pad. It has seen disasters such as the Storm of 13th January 1843, when 14 boats and 76 fisher men drowned. But also been the site for such important events as, the first engine powered flight in Ireland, by Harry Ferguson, along the beach in 1910.
Nowadays Newcastle has a population of eight thousand which greatly swells in the summer season, thanks to a multi-million upgrade of the seaside resort.
Killyleagh Castle Killyleagh County Down
Killyleagh Castle was built in the style of the Loire Valley French Château’s and it was said to be one of the oldest castles in the country. Parts of the castle dated back to 1179. King James 1st gave the land to James Hamilton, who was later honoured with the title Vicount Claneboye. He built a single towered castle and courtyard walls; his son James, 1st Earl of Clanbrissil added a second tower.
At the end of 1648 the castle was attacked by Cromwell’s army from the Lough. The Earl fled leaving his wife and family behind. His son Henry, the 2nd Earl, rebuilt his castle in 1665. He later added the north tower. In 1666 the 2nd Earl married Lady Alice Moore. They realised that if they were childless their estate would be ceased by other family members. She arranged for her father in law’s will to be destroyed.
Lady Alice persuaded her husband make a will of his own leaving the castle and estate to her. Less than a year later the 2nd Earl died of poisoning. After the demise of Lady Alice in1677 the family became aware of the 1st Earl’s will and claimed their rights to the estate from Lady Alice’s brother. Today the Castle is home the Hamilton Family. Visitors are welcome to stay in its majestic towers which are available as a self-catering estlabishment
Jordans Castle Killough County Down
Overlooking the harbour in Ardglass village not far from the town of Newry in Co Down, is Jordans Castle. It has a rectangular Tower house which are four storeys high.
On the north side there are two rectangular projections, one of which contains a stone spiral staircase.
There are not many clues to give a definitive date for the castle. Some parts of the window do suggest the 1400’s, however due to much reconstruction over the centuries dating it is difficult.
The ground floor chamber is unfloored with an irregular surface of the outcropping stonework easly seen and therefore may have been a storehouse. The Castles main room was on the 1st floor which was supported onto a pointed barrel vault.
The stone-flagged rampart walls with archery turrets can be easly seen. Its turret to the north end contains a dovecote and nest-holes. Its main entrance is at the bottom of the NW tower and leads by a round stairway to its roof level which is protected by a machicolation. The projecting towers are connected by a high-level arch which also functions as a machicolation.
In 1832 the “Dublin Penny Journal’ described Jordan’s Castle as ‘one of the remaining fortresses constructed with greater elegance than any of the other buildings of the kind and was a place of considerable strength”.
The castle is most memorable for its determined defence by the owner Simon Jordan who survived there for 3 years during the Tyrone rebellion, untill he was relieved by a Lord Deputy Mountjoy in the late 1600’s.
Francis Joseph Bigger (a Belfast antiquarian) bought the castle in 1909 and restored it, making it totally accessible to everyone to a museum like estlabishment.
It was also extensively used a ‘meeting house’ for fellow artists and writers to whom Bigger was friend and patron.
When Francis Joseph Bigger died in 1926, the castle was then presented to the state on condition that, with its contents, it should be preserved as an Ancient Monument by his executor, Dr Joseph Bigger, The contents have since been dispersed among the Ulster Museums general collections and the tower is no longer open to the public.
Kilclief Castle Strangford County Down
Kilclief Castle is a tower-house castle near to Strangford Lough and the village of Strangford, County Down. Kilclief hamlet itself is of historical value. This kind of tower-house may sometimes be called the gatehouse type because of its similarity to other castle gatehouses.
Kilclief Castle was the first tower-house in Lecale and was built before 1440’s.
The Castle was built by John Sely was who Bishop of Down from 1428 to 1442.
Kilclief castle is quite tall with four floors. The first floor is vaulted in stone, with two projecting turrets. One contains a spiral stair and the other a series of garderobes with access from three of the four floors. The projecting turrets are joined at its roof level by an arch covering a murdor-hole.
Thes ground floor chamber has also a semicircular barrel vault on wicker centering. On the second floor a 13th-century coffin-lid from a nearby church was used as a lintel for its fireplace.
Its window in the east wall has a more modern reconstruction based on some surviving fragments.
The castle is now in state care with guided tours available in the months of July and August.
Dromore is a small market village in County Down 20 miles south of Belfast.
Dromore Castle had a large motte and bailey along with earlier earthworks known locally as the ‘Priests Mount’ on the Maypole Hill.
The towns name ‘Dromore’ meaning ‘large ridge’ has historic anglicisations including Drumore, Drummore and Drummor. The Castles motte and bailey was constructed by John de Courcy in the 1200’s shortly after Ireland’s Norman invasion.
The Fort has a prominent site to the east of the town centre, locally Known as ‘The Mound’.
There are picturque views up the valley of the River Lagan.
The Fort remained under Anglo Norman power until it was captured and destroyed in 1314 by Edward Bruce during the Irish-Bruce war.
Dromore’s town and cathedral were completely destroyed in Irrlands Rebellion of 1640, and its present church was built by Bishop J. Taylor in 1660, who is buried at the church.
Followers of Richard Hamilton, fought a battle here with Williamites in March 1688. The fight took place around 1 mile from the village on the Milebush Road. This was known as the Break of Dromore.
Drumbo round Tower County Down
This Tower survives at a height of 11 metres, 6 metres in diameter, an internal diameter of 3 metres and it’s wall is around 2 metres deep.
Inside the building there are beam holes proving that the internal floors were constructed of timber, there are 6 surviving levels including it’s basement.
Today the building lies within the property of the local Presbyterian Church.
The Towers history shows the tower was attached to a medieval church and monastery, its foundations can be seen in the graveyard on the site. The tower is from around the early medieval period.
The original building was severely damaged when the site was plundered by Connor McLochlin, son of Artgal in 1129.
The site of the tower and medieval monastery boasts one of the oldest religious foundations in the Island. In the Book of Armagh, at the time of Saint Patrick, which is contained, the name Drumbo mentions “the long hill of the cow,” which translates to Collum Bovis, which the ancient church was known as.
The tower was mainly built here to take advantage of the panoramic views over the Lagan Valley as it would have been useful in spotting incoming Viking raids which was a regular occurrence at that time.
Dundrum Castle County Down
Dundrum Castle was built by John de Courcy on the very site of an ancient fortress.
In 1209 King John of England seized the castle and made major modifications which included its round keep and its gatehouse which can be easily seen today alought in ruin.
The castle is very well located as a lookout across the surrounding area and protect the kingdom from its enemies. Towards the south, the low lying land running to Slieve Croob to the west, and the fields of Lecale, to the east.
After King John, the Castle was passed down through the British royal family. Although the castle is in ruins, is a very popular attraction for school tours and tourists visiting the area.
Clough Castle Clough County Down
The Castle, motte and bailey at Clough is believed to date to mid 1100’s and is an impressive example of an Anglo Norman earthwork castle. Its taller mound, ‘the motte’, was built of earth to provide a look out post therefore the central defence.
In the 1951 excavations at the top of the motte uncovered a wooden stakewall which originally extended around its summit. Stone foundations of long a rectangular hall was also found in the northeast areas, dating to the mid 1200’s.
A small rectangular stone keep was added after in the 13th c towards its SW area. After the stone keep was enlarged used as a tower-house in the late 15th century.
The Castles small bailey is to the south of the motte which would have originally been seperated a 2m deep ditch. The bailey would have been an area for domestic buildings and animals.
The Castles overlooks the main routes east towards Downpatrick, south towards Dundrum and north towards Belfast Lough. Its views at the top of the motte west towards Slieve Croob were also Important.
Castle Ward Strangford County Down
Castle Ward was built in 1709, on the site of an earlier castle. It was the family home of the Ward’s who were MP’s at that time where it remained untill it was given to the National Trust in 1949.
The house was built in ‘Georgian and Gothic’ styles as the husband & wife both had many different tastes. At the front of the property, it was the Georgian style, designed by Bernard Ward, with the gothic rear of the house attributed to Lady Anne and these differences in style are easily visible inside and out.
Castle Ward sits in an estate of 820 acres on the shores of Strangford Lough near the village of Strangford, 7 miles from Downpatrick. The fully restored building has heald its Victorian laundry, saw and corn mills and its fort tower house built arround fifty foot high.
Today the property is owned by the National Trust and admission to the main house is by guided tour only, although visitors are able to visit the rest of the property freely. It has one of the largest remaining 18th century garden in Ireland.
The Castles courtyard was used in ‘Game of Thrones®’ where they created the exterior of Winterfell also ‘The Whispering Wood’ and today ‘Winterfell Tours’ can be located in the courtyard, fans can experience everything from medieval banquets to archery lessons.
Castle Ward has its own tea room and shop for its visitors. It also has its own holiday cottage and caravan park which is open to the public all year. The Castles ‘Mansion Hall’ is a beautiful place to hold functions such as weddings.
Castlewellan Castle County Down
In the mid 1700’s Lord Annesley purchased Castlewellan estate from the Magennis family.
The estate reached from Slieve Croobe to Slieve Donard and inluded Castlewellan and some of Newcastle. The Forest Park had over 450 hectares.
Castlewellan’s Lake was covered 30 hectares and is today stocked with rainbow and brown trout.
The Arboretum dates from the 1870’s, there is a large walled garden that boasts a collection of species of trees and shrubs collected from around the world. The Castle, built in the Scottish Baronial style of the 19th Century, replaced the earlier residence of the Annesleys, which was nearer the lake.
The Castle was in the Annesley family for more than a century. The Castle finally passed from Lady Annesley to her son, Gerald Annesley, on the occasion of his marriage in 1926 to Lady Elizabeth Jocelyn. She was the daughter of the 7th Earl of Roden from Tollymore. Gerald Francis and his bride remained in the Castle until it was sold to the Department of Agriculture in 1966.
Entry to the Castle is by way of large, heavy, wooden doors on its east side. The large 3m wide staircase at the entrance leads to a foyer where doors to the ballroom, library and dining rooms are situated. Special attention should be paid to the exquisite detail in the woodwork and ceilings. This room was originally used to entertain guests before dinner or similar occasions.
Audley’s Castle Strangford Lough County Down
Audley’s Castle is named after its original owner John Audley. He sold the tower house and surrounding lands to the Ward family in the mid 17th century. The three storey tower was built upon a hill with spectacular views overlooking the stunning Strangford Lough and it’s surrounding landscape.
There are many small stone towers similar to Audley’s Castle in the island of Ireland. The tower is one of the most common of archaeological sites. This indicates these were not build for the higher aristocracy, but for lesser lords and gentry. Most of these small towers were built towards the 17th century. The tower was used as a filming location for the 1st and 2nd seasons of ‘The Game of Thrones’. The building is a State Care Historic Monument in the townland of Castleward.
Bright Castle County Down
Bright Castle is located near Downpatrick in County Down. The three storey Tower was built in the late 15th century. Constructed out of stone rubble the walls are slightly battered throughout their height. There was an oversailing parapet with some rain water outlets at the base.
The east wall which is several meters long, joins fragments of the north and south walls and stands to roof level. The western portion of the castle has now disappeared and unfortunately, less than half of the original structure survives.
Indications show that there may have been a vault above the ground floor.The tower house is a Scheduled Historic Monument in the townland of Bright, in Down District Council area. Bright Castle is situated at the end of the Bright Castle Golf Club. The terrain of this club is not freely accessible, but the ruin can easily be seen from the road that runs past it.
Bangor Castle Bangor County Down
Bangor Castle is set in Castle Park in the town of Bangor 12 miles from Belfast.
The castle has the appearance of a three storey Elizabethan mansion house constructed from limestone attached to an earlier abbey. The castle sits in an award winning formal gardens famous for their outstanding blooms.
Bangor Castle is now owned and managed by the local council and is not open to the general public. The building is on a site that was originally an abbey founded in 490 AD by St. Comgall. In the 9th century the building was destroyed by marauding Danes and was then rebuilt in 1124 by Franciscan monks. The abbey was dissolved in 1541. The manor house on the site was completed in 1850 for Robert Edward Ward.
It contained 33 bedrooms and a large saloon for entertainments. The associated estate covered in excess of six thousand acres including most of the town of Bangor.
Bangor Borough Council now oversee the castle and grounds.
The music saloon became the Council Chamber and the castle then became the Town Hall.
It is now the seat of its successor the North Down Borough Council.
The building hosts a small museum to the Ward and Bingham families, that includes the Victoria Cross given to Commander Edward Bingham, the son of the 5th Lord Clanmorris.
Trummery old church and Round Tower County Down
Trummery old church was once was a round tower similar to many others in Ireland and is dated from around the early 1200’s. Records indicate the tower was over sixty foot high and fifteen foot in diameter.
It is locally known the English soldiers who were based at Soldierstown used the ancient round tower as a target for cannon fire. Major damage was made in the side next the church in the outer half of its tower wall.
The ruins of the tower were fell in 1828. Today there are only scattered fragments around the graveyard along with the remaining ruins of the church.
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