Abandoned ireland


Derryhivenny Castle
Co. Galway.

Documenting our Heritage

The O’Madden family held the lands around Derryhivenny from around the year 950 to the middle of the seventeenth century. On the 5th of February 1639, the head of the family, John O'Madden died, leaving his lands to his son, Daniel O'Madden. Daniel then set about building himself a tower house.

An inscription found on one of the corbels of the bartizan at the north-eastern angle of the tower records the date of construction as 1643, ‘D : OM ME : FIERI : FECIT : 1643’, making Derryhivenny one of the last true tower houses erected in Ireland.

Tower houses had come into existence by the early fifteenth century. The 1429 statute allowed a grant of £10 to landowners in the counties of the Pale towards their construction. The following two centuries would see around 3000 tower houses erected. Designed to resist petty plunderers rather than marching armies, they were very much the country mansion house of their time. The Civil Survey of 1650 records orchards, gardens, cottages, mills and dovecots associated with the tower houses.

Derryhivenny, though abandoned and derelict for centuries, is still in well preserved condition. The stonework of the main tower is almost complete, though much of the castle bawn is broken and missing. The main tower measures about 12 metres by 10 metres at ground level and rises to a height of nearly 17 metres. The Jacobean chimneys extend the structure to a total height of 21 metres.

This article is the copyright of Tarquin Blake, Abandoned Ireland, and may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Co. Galway