Oranmore Castle, Co.Galway
Oranmore Castle was built sometime round the fifteenth century possibly on the site of an older castle. It was a stronghold of the Clanricardes who were a prominent norman family of Galway. In 1641 Galway was under the overlordship of the Marquess and fifth Earl Clanricarde. In March 1642 the town revolted and joined the Confederates with the Fort (St Augustin's) still holding out. Clanricarde placed a strong garrison in Orannmore castle, from which he provisioned the Fort of Galway from the sea until 1643 when Captain Willoughby Governor of Galway surrendered both fort and castle without the Marquess's consent. In 1651 the castle surrendered to the Parliamentary forces.
All the Marquess's property was of course forfeited but his successor, the 6th Earl, got back most of it including the castle. In 1666 he leased the castle to Walter Athy. Mary, Walter's daughter married secondly Walter Blake of Drumacrina Co Mayo, and her descendants by that marriage, held Oranmore until 1853, when the estates of Walter Blake were sold to the Encumbered Estates Court.
The Blake family built the house against the south side of the castle. This house was left in ruins when the Blake family left Oranmore and the castle was unroofed until 1947 when it was bought by Lady Leslie, a cousin of Churchill and wife of Sir Shane Leslie the writer.
Lady Leslie reroofed the castle and gave it to her daughter, Mrs Leslie King who is aiso well known as a writer under the name of Anita Leslie. Between 1950 and 1960, Mrs Leslie King and her husband, Cmdr Bill King (also a writer who sailed solo around the world in 1933) added a two storey wing joined to the castle by a single storey range. The castle is now occupied by Leonie King, daughter of Anita Leslie and Bill King.
Ormonde Castle, Co. Tipperary
This castle of the Butlers - Earls and later Dukes of Ormonde - stands above the Suir on the east side of Carrick. It was acquired in 1315, though the oldest part of the castle is a mid-fifteenth-century walled bawn with a tower house in each of its northern corners. Sometime after 1565 the tenth, or "Black", Earl of Ormonde, who spent many years in the court of his cousin Queen Elizabeth I, added a Tudor manor house of a type common in England but like no other in Ireland. The low U-shaped range of this house forms three sides of a small court attached to the north of the old bawn, whose towers rise behind it. It has two storeys with a gabled attic, rows of mullioned windows with curved-headed lights, and steep brick gables with slender finials. There are few defensive features save for small firing-holes either side of the front door.
The house was a favourite haunt of the Great Duke of Ormonde, but afterwards it was deserted by the family, although they continued to own it until the present century. Fortunately, it was never allowed to fall into complete ruin and in 1947 was taken over by the State, who subsequently conserved the building. Their most notable achievement was the restoration of the long gallery on the first floor of the front elevation, whose ceiling had largely collapsed.
This delightful room, once hung with tapestries, has a magnificent limestone mantel bearing the date 1565, and stucco representations of Queen Elizabeth flanked by Equity and Justice. The Queen would have felt at home in this room and in the rest of this house, which was probably intended, for she is believed to have promised her favourite cousin "Black Tom" that she would one day honour Carrick with a visit.
The castle is open every day from Mid-June to September
with guided tours from 9:30-18:30 daily.