Breach in the west wall

Gortnaclea Castle

Tower House

From a distance this five storey castle looks really impressive. It stands tall in an elevated position, with commanding views of the surrounding countryside. Due to the presence of some frisky bullocks I was unable to get a close inspection of the tower house, but from the nearby roadside it looks quite ruinous. The entrance was in the north wall with a stairwell in the NE angle. The keep, pictured above and below, stood inside a, now destroyed, rectangular bawn. An E-W barrel vault can be seen over the third storey, in the image below. Apart from a few windows slits and musket loops, not many interesting features remain.

Gortnaclea was a Fitzgerald castle, the earliest known occupant was Donal Fitzgerald in 1566. Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond, eldest son of James Butler, the 9th Earl, was held prisoner here by Owney Moore on 14th April, 1600, before being moved to Ballybrittas. Moore was an ally of Gerald Fitzgerald, 15th Earl of Desmond. Thomas, known as the Black Earl, had an almost lifelong feud with the Earl of Desmond. It is believed a ransom of £5,000 was paid for his release.

Situated: From Abbeyleix, go south N77, then right R440. Then 2k turn left L1656. Then 3.7 k turn right L1653. 400m turn left. 2.9k turn left. The castle can be seen on your left.

Discovery Map 60: S 3602 8626. Last visit Aug 2018.

Longitude:  7° 27' 52" W

Latitude:  52° 55' 34" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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