Sunday, 12 May 2019

Ballintober Castle

Recently I was commissioned by Roscommon County Council to do a reconstruction of how Ballintober castle may have looked like at its peak. Supported with expert advice from Naill Brady and the latest gradiometry, ground penetrating radar survey, geophysics and resistence surveys of the site, we created a reconstruction of what it may have looked like at around the 14th century.

Ballintober is the ancestral castle and its still owned, by the O'Conors of Connaught, who reside in Clonalis House in Castlerea. It is one of a string of great Anglo Norman castles around Roscommon,  including Rindown and Roscommon. It is what is called a 'keepless castle', one where the emphasis was on accommodation in the curtain walls rather than purely on defence.

It has 4 projecting corner towers surrounding a sub-rectangular interior space. Here was see what it may have looked like from within the gate house which was off centre in the bawn. The towers were polygonal and the one in the south west , seen here at the left,was 3 storeys tall and had 2 external projections, one for an exterior stairs and another more accommodation. While the other corner tower seen here is 4 storeys high and eventually become a fortified tower house with still an ornate fireplace there to this day.

The bawn, had a large rectangular courtyard area with three building surrounding it. One in the south was made of wood, may have been a stables or the like, while the other stone house in the north with buttresses may have been a church. They are unsure what the central stone building may have been. There was more structures in the side, including the covered portico of one seen in the right but the others could not be seen in this angle.

The castle has a fascinating history, it is unsure who built it but it was probably the Normans though some do claim it may have been a Gaelic build but certainly later on it became a stronghold of the O'Conors themselves, as like the rest of Gaelic Ireland they slowly reconquered what was once their inheritance. Sadly for the majority of Gaelic Ireland it was not to last, but amazingly the O'Conors of this area were able to hold onto their lands through the various trials and tribulations after the Tudor conquest on beyond.

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