A Castle Steeped in History....
Loughrea was said to be founded in 1236 by the Anglo-Norman knight, Richard de Burgo. Some miles away, half way between Loughrea and Gort, just outside the village of Kilchreest, Cloughan Castle was built in 1239, as an out-post fortification. The castle was last inhabited in the 15th century, by Hugh deBurgo, a son of Walter de Burgo, Earl of Ulster, one of the most ancient and influential families in Irish history.
Cloughan Castle has stood derelict for centuries, until it was acquired once again by the Burke Family, in 1973. Michael Burke always had an interest in history and seeing the ruined castle on a neighbour’s land he thought it would be a nice idea to restore it.
The walls of the Norman tower house were all that remained when restoration commencement began.
In 1996 further restoration began on Cloughan Castle, adding to the original Tower House building
Michael Burke said, 'The aim was to recreate what it was like to live in a medieval castle, but without having to suffer the deprivation of thirteenth century living, initially with the idea of using it as a family home'
Local craftsmen were used and we tried to source local materials as much as possible. While it was a huge undertaking we never felt we had taken on too much, we really enjoyed the work and feel that when we die we will have left something for future generations. It’s a landmark that would otherwise be just a heap of stones today.
Before long we started to receive queries from people interesting in renting it and with an interest in experiencing a stay in a Castle and very quickly it has gone from one or two queries to, now, when the Castle is hosting numerous wedding receptions and private parties each year.
A long sweeping driveway leads to a semi-circular paved area and a tennis court which are outside the boundaries of the external fortification. The castle is fully spotlighted, enabling its grandeur to be illuminated by night.
The castle is constructed of natural stone from the area which is predominately granite, with most of the walls standing 6 feet in depth. Indeed much of the stone used for the restoration would have been used during the original construction.
The internal construction of the castle is largely of exposed natural stone walls, wooded beamed ceiling and stone or wooden floors.
A winding 90 step stairway connects the various levels. Furthermore, in spite of the restriction of lighting imposed by the use of the traditional windows, the castle is well lit by means of internal lighting systems.
The outstanding external characteristics of Cloghan Castle include the typical Norman features: Arched Doorways, Circular Turrets and Battlements particularly well defined in the uppermost viewing platform area.
Old traditions remain intact today. Stepping out onto the battlements one can understand the strategic importance of this site for the Normans. Spread before you are awe-inspiring views of the surrounding five counties and the Slieve Aughty Mountains. The battlements today are used for less sinister activities with space for 200 people for large open air barbecues or private dining al fresco.
Standing on the thrones of the battlements you can lose yourself...or find yourself... in the timelessness that is part of Cloghan Castle's most treasured gift.