Strategically set deep in the plains of Connaught, this great royal fortress was raised as part of a campaign to assert Crown authority west of the Shannon. The first fort was begun in 1269 by Robert de Uffort, but this was demolished by the native Irish under Hugh O'Connor in the 1270s. After this failure, the justiciary embarked on a stronger, more impregnable fortress, built in the early 1280s to the latest military specifications. Similar to Harlech Castle, which it pre-dated by three years, this castle comprised a large quadrangle with projecting D-shaped corner towers and an unusually fine twin-towered gatehouse in the centre of the east wall. A moat with drawbridges surrounded the castle at some distance from the walls, presumably filled from a lake that formerly lay close by.
The castle was stormed in 1308 by a local chief, Donogh O'Kelly, and most of the inhabitants were slain. It remained in Irish hands, though probably largely deserted, until recovered by Sir Henry Sidney from the O'Connors in 1569. Nine years later it was granted to the Governor of Connaught, Sir Nicholas Malby, who built a splendid manor house on the east and north sides of the courtyard, with large mullioned windows inserted into the old walls. This appears to have had gardens on the east side enclosed by high walls with bastions. From 1645 to 1652 the castle was occupied by Confederate Catholics, but was dismantled after surrendering to the Cromwellians.
Near Roscommon town off the Tulsk road. NGR: M 874649.
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