Aughnanure Castle,
County Galway

The "ferocious O'Flaherties", masters of the whole territory of west Connaught, built this fine castle in the early 16th century, possibly on the site of a 13th-century Norman fortification. It occupies a position of some strength close to Lough Corrib on what is virtually a rocky island formed by the Drimmeen River, separating into two branches and reuniting at the other side - a circumstance that gave rise to the old phrase "Aughnanure, where the salmon come under the castle".

A natural bridge of rock gives access to the inner bawn and tower house on the west. The well-built six-storey tower with a gracefully battered base imparts a very picturesque appearance and commands a wonderful view over Lough Corrib. Aughnanure is unusual in having a double bawn. Its riverside walls have survived whilst an outer wall has collapsed into an underground tributary river (now dry as its course has been changed). However, its pretensions to style are evident from the carvings on the soffits of the window embrasures depicting elaborate vine leaves and clusters of grapes in low relief.

The castle was the seat of the O'Flaherty chiefs until 1572, when it was captured by Sir Edward Fitton. Its position at the head of the lake allowed the castle to play an important role in the Cromwellian blockade of Galway, but afterwards it was forfeited and granted to the Earl of Clanrickard. Somehow the O'Flahertys remained in residence and in 1719 regained ownership, but later the castle passed to Lord St George on the foreclosure of a mortgage. In the 19th century a member of the Leconfield branch of the O'Flahertys planted yew trees about the castle to perpetuate its Gaelic name - the field of the yews.

3 km (2 miles) SE of Oughterard. NGR: M 1544.