Ireland is full of roofless ruins, but few have had such a tragically brief history as the beautifully sited Plantation castle of Tully. Built between 1612 and 1615 for Sir John Hume, it was gutted and abandoned in the 1641 rebellion. The castle had been surrendered to Rory Maguire on Christmas Eve 1641 by Lady Hume on condition of safe conduct for the local Protestant settlers who had sought refuge with her. However, the "rebels having stripped the inhabitants, except Lady Hume, of all their clothes, imprisoned them in the vaults and cellars" of the castle. The men were bound hand and foot and "thrown into the courtyard where they lay all night". The next day (Christmas Day) the Maguires massacred all sixteen men and sixty-nine women and children, sparing only the Humes. They then pillaged and burnt the castle, which has remained a ruin to this day.
The Maguires would have had difficulty investing the castle by force as it was well protected. When the Commissioners visited the place in 1622 they found it had "a bawne of stone and lime 99 feet long, 9 feet broad, 10 feet high, with 4 flankers. There is also within the bawne a strong castle 54 feet long, 19 feet broad, 3 storeys high, covered with thatch." Of this, the stronghouse survives to almost full height, while the bawn wall and its rectangular flankers are ruined except for the north-east side.
A ten-year programme of repair followed the acquisition of the castle by the Department of Environment in 1974. Excavation revealed that the bawn was divided up by cobbled paths suggesting the use of this area as a garden. In 1988 formal beds were created within these paths using plants known in Ireland during the 17th century.
On the shore of Lough Erne, 5 km (3 miles) N of Derrygonnelly off the Belleek road. NGR: H 186599.
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