Ballyadams Castle

Tower House/Fortified House

From the roadway this odd looking 15th century tower house gives the impression of a gate house with a castle behind it. The six storey building has rounded towers at the NW an SW angles. The northwest tower is a storey higher than its partner. The entrance way has a series of arches above and the highest of these arches is a machicolation. The building attached to the rear of the castle is a late 17th century three storey fortified house. I was hoping to get permission for a closer inspection but the presence of a large bull in the field prevented this.

In 1534 the castle was taken by the Geraldines during the rebellion of Thomas Fitzgerald, 10th Earl of Kildare, AKA Silken Thomas. In 1546 the Lord Deputy and the Earl of Desmond led a large army into Laois and took Ballyadams Castle. The brutal John Thomas Bowen, AKA John of the Pike because he always carried a pike, took possession of the castle in 1551. He was succeeded by his son Robert in 1569.

A monument in the old church of Ballyadams was erected in 1631 in the memory of Robert. Katherine Bowen, who married Pierce Butler from Tipperary, was granted the castle in 1700. The Butlers stopped living in the castle after an attack by insurgents in 1798. I was led to believe that David Butler, the present owner of the castle was a direct descendant of Pierce Butler, but I have been informed by David that this is untrue. Sadly the original beautiful doors, one can bee seen in an image above, were stolen from the premises in 2018.

Situated: From Athy head south on the N78 after 2.5 kilometres take a right turn. Stay on this road for 3.8 kilometres. At the T-juction turn right. The castle is 250 metres down here on your right. Beware of the Bull.

Discovery Map 55: S 6287 9086. Last visit June 2014.

Longitude: 7° 3' 51" W

Latitude: 52° 57' 54" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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