#135 Aughnanure Castle
Co. Galway, Ireland
Late Fifteenth Century
This is NOT an official Lego site

The history of Aughnanure Castle has been an important part of the history of the O'Flaherty Clan since the first castle was built on the site perhaps in the thirteenth century. Far earlier in the middle of the 8th century the O'Flahertys became the dominant clan of the ancient Ui Briuin Seola inhabitants of western Ireland, occupying the lands east of Lough Corrib. By the 11th century they were contending for the lordship of all of Connacht, and dominated the area around the mouth of the Lough in the 12th century. As the Norman invasion of England in 1066 gradually spread to Ireland, the O'Flahertys were briefly expelled from the Lough Corrib area in the mid-13th century and the first castle at the site of Aughnanure may have been built by Walter de Burgo, first Earl of Ulster. By the end of the century, however, the angry O'Flaherty Clan had retaken all of Connacht west of Lough Corrib and they would hold it for the next three centuries, with the exception of the mouth of the River Galway which the Normans retained, establishing the trading center of Galway City. The O'Flahertys were great seamen, and never ceased to harrass the citizens of Galway City by land and by sea, causing them to be considered 'mountainous and wild people'. They built a fortified gate at the western entrance to the town to 'protect us from the ferocious O'Flahertys'.
Aughnanure Castle was the official seat of the O'Flahertys. The castle of situated on a modest rocky outcropping overlooking the River Drimneen, near the edge of the western bank of Lough Corrib. The six story tower was protected by an unusual double bawn, both having a round curtain tower at the southeast corner. Originally the river provided protection for two sides of the castle as well as a harbor for supply ships and forays against enemies. The 28 by 41 foot six-story tower was well protected by the picturesque bartizans at the northeast and southeast corners of the third floor, the machicolations above the doorway and windows at the parapet level on all four sides, and the murder hole above of door. In addition the circular stairway is protected by numerous gunports as it spirals from ground level to the battlements.
In 1537 Lord Grey, King Henry VIII's Deputy in Ireland extracted submissions from the O'Flahertys and other clans in the area, but no hostages were given and periodic raids on Galway City and shipping continued. In 1546 Donal O'Flaherty, next in line as head of the clan, married Grace O'Malley, daughter of Owen "Black Oak" O'Malley, a chiefton and fleet owner from Co. Mayo to the north. Grace bore him three children, including Murrough who decisively defeated the English at Traban west of Galway in 1564, as a teen. Murrough accepted a pardon for his offenses from Queen Elizabeth I and was appointed chiefton of Iar-Connacht over the legitimate chief at Aughnanure. Donal "The Cock" O'Flaherty died fighting the Joyces in north Connemara in the 1560s, but his wife, Grace O'Malley defeated the Joyces and became known as "The Hen". From her castle on Clare Island, Grace controlled Clew Bay and all shipping in the area, becoming the famed "Pirate Queen". She married Iron Dick Burke to acquire Rockfleet Castle, and gave birth to their son Tibbot (Theobald) while fighting Turkish pirates on a shipping expedition. In 1572 Murrough betrayed an uprising by his kinsmen and the English sent Sir Edward Fitton to march on the O'Flahertys at Aughnanure. The castle was no match for the English artillery and fell for the only time. Aughnanure Castle was given to Murrough O'Flaherty, who further fortified the castle, giving it the form we see today. Grace was captured in 1577 and briefly imprisoned in Dublin Castle, was recaptured in 1586 but eventually set free. When her eldest son Owen was murdered by the English, Grace returned to pirating. When the English Governor of Connacht imprisoned Grace's sons Murrough and Tibbot, Grace, in her 60's, visited Queen Elizabeth's court in London and successfully pleaded for their release. She continued pirating, but now under the guise of fighting for the Queen.
Confisticated by the English in the late 16th century, by 1618 Aughnanure had been returned to Hugh O'Flaherty by King James I. Aughnanure Castle was important during the Cromwellian blockade of Galway, but despite their loyalty to the Stuarts, the O'Flaherty estates were confisticated in 1653 and Aughnanure Castle given to the Marquis of Clanrickarde. By 1687 however the O'Flahertys were renting the castle from the then Earl of Clanrickarde (for 76 annually) and in 1719 Aughnanure was officially tranferred to Bryan O'Flaherty. Though foreclosed on by Lord St. George for lapse of mortgage payments, in the 1850s Edmund O'Flaherty of the Leconfield branch of the family planted yew trees around the castle in honor of its original name Achadh na n-Iubhar "the field of the Yews". The castle was given to the Commissioners of Public Works in 1952 and declared a national monument in 1963.
Drawing of the castle at the time
of Murrough O'Flaherty
The east elevation of the inner
castle and tower


Ground Plan of entire
1st Floor with garderobe and
murder hole
2nd Floor with bartizans 5th Floor with living quarters
and door to secret room


Photos of the Lego Model
Under construction October 2, 2012
West View of the layout Northeast View of the layout On October 10, the landscaping is
99% done and a ship arrives with
stone anf wooden planks.
Let the construction begin!
A group of Scotmen (and women)
arrive - wonder what they want?
The animals are penned next to the
future Hall.
By October 14 major work
has been done on the
outer perimeter.
The O'Flaherty clan members are
better protected each month astheir
work progresses...
And meals are more comfortable now
that the banqueting hall is completed!
Note that you can just look up one frame
to see the progress over the past few days.
On October 17 construction
of the outer bawn wall
is basically complete.
Additional 2x3 wedge are
coming from England so the
wall can be finished.
The southeast tower needs capping.
And the lassies bring out a meal.
And work will begin tomorrow on the
donjon inself!


Photos of the Lego Model
Build October, 2012
On October 25 the wedges
from the UK have arrived...
...And the construction of the inner bawn
and Aughnanure's unique donjon are complete!
Here's the general view from
the northnortheast.
The view from the east.
And the view from the
The SSW view as the castle looked
600 years ago, before the west curtain
wall collapsed into the marshland.
Here's a detail of the entrance
between the river Drimneen
and the marsh.
The inner courtyard with one
of the staircases up to the
There's lots of activity near the
tiny harbor: repair work on the
bawn wall and a boat.
Here's a detail of the inner
courtyard and the front of
the donjon.
The view of the donjon
from the southeast.
Here's the west side of
the tower with my guess
at the roof configuration.
The east outer curtain wall features
a projection which might have been
an earlier entrance.
And a view of the round
tower of the inner bawn -
but wait...
Guests are arriving
from Scotland!
And naturally the O'Flaherty
women are ready with a feast!
Photos of the Donjon
When I disassembled the castle to build Roquetaillade, I saved Aughnanure's keep so as to have a project
to show visitors during the construction of the new castle. Today (Feb. 9, as I prepare to reuse the Lego), I took
pictures of each side of the donjon, so others can get a better feel for window locations, etc. Here they are:
The east (front)
From the south The west view (seen
as you enter the
main gate)
The north view - difficult
to visualize due to the
trees growing by the river.


Build Your Own
Top Down Plan
West Elevation (as it would have looked
before the natural bridge over the river inlet
collapsed, taking with it much of the outer
curtain and most of the banqueting hall!)
South Elevation (with the drawbridge, west
curtain, inner bawn postern and important
southeast curtain watch tower)
East Elevation
of the keep
[better interpretation]
East Elevation (with the river on the right and the
outer curtain on the far left. The main inner bawn
gate is "in front" of the keep.) [Note: a more accurate
and buildable east keep face is on the left]
North Elevation of
the keep [difficult to
interpret due to the
river & mature trees]

Other Aughnanure Castle pages:

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Castles created by Robert Carney
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Robert Carney