Rockfleet Castle: A Simple Structure that Tells a Fascinating Irish Story
Rockfleet Castle is an exciting example of the many ancient structures along the Western coast of Ireland. Getting to the castle in County Mayo, Connacht Province is a breeze if you're coming from Dublin Airport on the eastern coast.
Just drive clear across the island, from sea to sea, via the M4 and the N5. The last portion of the journey is along the N59, which takes you to the small lane leading to Rockfleet Castle.
Things to Know About Rockfleet Castle
Here are some fun facts about this amazing Irish landmark. Hopefully they will entice you to pay a visit in person!
But if that is not possible, you can always use them to impress your friends with your knowledge of one of the most-visited attractions in Ireland.
- The tower house of Rockfleet
Castle is a ruin that looks like a relatively standard tower structure at first
- However, the castle actually
has a fascinating history. Located in County Mayo, the Castle was built
in the middle of the 16th century for Grace O’Malley, a woman nicknamed the
- O'Malley controlled much of
the Western Coast of Ireland in the 16th century, and she famously switched
sides and fought for, rather than against, the English in order to save her
- Although Rockfleet is
privately owned, it is possible to get the key from the farmhouse next to the
castle and tour it on your own.
- The castle is known to many locals by another name: Carraigahowley. That's because in Irish, rock of the fleet translates literally to the phrase Carraig an Chabhlaigh.
- The castle is said to have been built for two specific people: A man in iron and a pirate queen.
- Risteárd an Iarainn Bourke, or Richard in Iron, always wore a coat of chain mail. This symbolized his Anglo-Norman ancestry and the fact that he owned the nearby ironworks at Burrishoole.
- Richard's wife, Granuaile or Grace O'Malley, was the chieftain of the O'Malleys as well as a so-called pirate queen. After she married Richard and moved her ships into Rockfleet, she divorced him and took the castle.
- There is a legend that says that all of the treasure once found in the castle is now buried in the surrounding hills. However, anyone who finds it and digs it up will be met by the Headless Horseman!
- Rockfleet Castle, like many Irish castles during the 19th century, was largely abandoned and neglected. In the 1950s, it was partially restored.
- Visitors are welcome to explore the castle, but don't expect amenities or a gift shop. If the castle doesn't look open, grab the key from next door and explore on your own.
- To get from the ground floor to the first floor, you'll need to a climb a wooden ladder. To reach the next two floors of the castle, there is a spiral staircase made of stone.
- Visiting the castle is an incredible experience because you can literally have the place to yourself. This also allows for excellent photos without crowds of people getting in the way.
You can find more information about this amazing Irish landmark here.
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