Doe Castle, County Donegal
Doe Castle, or Caisleán na dTuath, sits on the waterline of Sheephaven Bay on The Wild Atlantic Way off the R245 between Carrigart and Creeslough, Co. Donegal. It was the historical stronghold of Clan tSuibhne (Clan MacSweeney), with architectural parallels to the Scottish tower house.
Built in the early 15th century, it is one of the better fortalices in the north-west of Ireland. The castle sits on a small peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water, with a moat cut into the rock of the landward side. The structure consists mainly of high outer walls around an interior bawn with a four-storey tower-house/keep.
Doe Castle was most likely built in the 15th century by the O'Donnell family, but by the 1440s it had come into the hands of the gallowglass MacSweeney family. The MacSweeney’s were descendants of a class of elite Norse – Gaelic mercenaries called Gallowglasses who lived along the Western Isles of Scotland. The castle remained in the hands of the MacSweeney family for almost two hundred years until it fell into the hands of English settlers in the aftermath of the Plantation of Ulster in the early seventeenth century.
It was there that Owen Roe O'Neill returned in 1642 to lead the Ulster Army of the Irish Confederate forces during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The castle changed hands repeatedly during the 17th-century struggle for control of Ireland between the English and the Irish. It is known that in 1650, Sir Charles Coote, the Governor of Londonderry, took possession of the castle. Eventually, the castle was bought by Sir George Vaughan Hart (retired Brithish Army officer) and inhabited by his family until 1843. The last occupant to live here was a Church of Ireland minister who left in 1909.
Doe Castle Today
The castle then fell into disrepair until it came into the hands of the Land Commission. In 1934 it was declared a national monument and was acquired by the Office of Public Works. The Towerhouse of the castle underwent a major restoration in the 1990s. Notable features: The castle tower is believed to have been built in the 1420s, and the bawn walls and two storey hall beside the tower built in the 1620s. The deeply carved and highly ornamented Mac Sweeney grave-slab from the nearby Ballymacsweeney graveyard, now inside the tower house, dates from 1544. The Information panels, on the surrounding bawn walls, and inside the ground floor of the castle, chronicle its history in much more detail.
The Castle grounds are open daily and guided tours of the towerhouse are available during the Summer months.
LOCATION MAPS: Doe Castle, Caisleán na dTuath - Google Maps
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A FEW INTERESTING DOECASTLE WEBPAGES:
Shared on IrelandXO by: S.Callaghan (Kerrykeel)
Civil Parishes throughout County Donegal (IrelandXO Links) CLICK HERE
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