Parke's Castle,
County Leitrim

Rising from the tranquil waters of Lough Gill, this attractive Plantation castle has recently undergone an extensive restoration. It now appears much as it did around 1610 when Robert Parker completed his fortified manor house on the site of a 15th-century O'Rorke castle. The walls of the original bawn were retained, but the O'Rorke tower house in the centre was demolished and its stones used to build the three-storey manor. This has now had its window glazing reinstated, while local craftsmen have successfully restored the timber stair, as well as the mortice and tenon oak roof. One of two round flankers forms one end of the manor, while at the other end stands a gatebuilding with an arched entrance leading into the enclosure. There is also a postern gate and a sally port, though there are no flankers on the lake shore probably as the water level was 10 feet higher in the 17th century and lapped up against the bawn walls. No doubt these waters fed the moat that formerly surrounded the bawn.

Excavations in the 1970s revealed the base of the O'Rorke tower house beneath the courtyard cobbles and this is now exposed to view. It was in this tower that Francisco de Cuellar, the shipwrecked Armada officer, was entertained by Brian O'Rorke. In later years de Cuellar was to write of his host: "Although this chief is a savage, he is a good Christian and an enemy of the heretics and is always at war with them." He was eventually captured, indicted and executed for high treason in London in 1591. The Parkers, who subsequently acquired his confiscated property, remained at Newtown, or Leitrim Castle - as it was formerly known - until the end of the 17th century, when it was deserted.

6.5 km (4 miles) NW of Dromahaire on the Sligo Road beside Lough Gill. NGR: G 783354.