Abandoned ireland


Raphoe Bishop’s Palace
Co. Donegal.

Documenting our Heritage

Raphoe Bishop’s Palace was built as a fortified residence in 1636 by John Leslie, Bishop of Raphoe.

Leslie had been born in Edinburgh, Scotland in the year 1571. At the age of 17 he left Scotland to study in Padua, Leipzig, Madrid, Salamanca and San Sebastian, becoming fluent in both Spanish and Italian in the process. He was ordained chaplain to King James I in 1621 and appointed Bishop of Raphoe in 1633.

During the 1641 rebellion, Leslie earned the reputation of being a fighter. He raised a company of foot and conveyed ammunition from Dublin to Derry. By the time Cromwell arrived in 1649, Leslie’s men had deserted him and took the side of Colonel Sir Charles Coote. In 1653, Coote attacked the Bishop’s Palace and to avoid bloodshed, Leslie surrendered and moved to Dublin.

In 1689 the Bishop’s Palace was burned by King James' forces marching on their way to Derry. It was rebuilt by Bishop Cairncross in 1695. In 1797 it was again attacked, this time by a group of United Irishmen. After the death of the last Bishop, William Bissett, the Raphoe diocese was annexed to Derry and the palace was put up for sale. Lewis describes it in his 1837 Topographical Dictionary: ‘The Episcopal palace, formerly a strong castle, is about a quarter of a mile from the town: it is a handsome and spacious castellated building, pleasantly situated in tastefully disposed grounds.’

In 1838 live coals fell out of a fire in an upper room of the palace. The flooring was soon ignited and fire spread throughout the vast building, leaving it a burnt out wreck.

Today the palace is utterly abandoned and its walls are left to slowly crumble.

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

Raphoe Bishop’s Palace,