County Donegal

Greencastle, County Donegal

Greencastle is one of those ivy clad ruins which one so seldom comes across now in an age of cleaned up and neatly presented heritage and you get a real feeling of exploring the Castle rather than just being another tourist at another tourist trap.

The Castle was built by Sir Richard de Burgo (Earl of Chester amongst other things) around 1305 to attempt to subdue the troublesome O'Donnells and O'Neills and also to guard the entrance to Lough Foyle.  It may well have been designed by the same architect as Caernarvon Castle in Wales and shares a number of features with that pinnacle of Castle design.

In 1316 when Edward Bruce invaded Ulster he quickly took Greencastle, and with it the important access supply route to Derry and Lough Foyle.  He died two years later and the Castle returned to the de Burgos.  William de Burgo, who was murdered in 1333 (probably not undeservedly), was responsible for one of the more gruesome events at the Castle. Walter Burke, de Burgo's cousin, had been left to starve to death in the Castle's dungeon.  William's sister was so moved by Walter's fate that she tried to sneak food in to feed him.  William caught her and had her flung off the Castle battlement.

When de Burgo was murdered the Castle passed to the O'Dohertys, who added to the Castle. In 1555 the Castle was badly damaged in the internecine wars of the O'Donnells and by 1600 was already "all ruined".

Greencastle is owned by Páirceanna agus Séadchomharthai Náisiúnta na hÉireann (or the Irish Ministry of Works) and is open to the public throughout the year.

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