Castle Portumna, County Galway

The town is noted for Portumna Castle and for the lords that lived there. The castle is actually a semi-fortified house and was built before 1618 by Richard Burke or de Burgo, the 4th Earl of Clanricarde. It was the main seat of the de Burgo family for over 200 years, until it was gutted by fire in 1826.

The castle is located about 200 metres North of Portumna (or ‘New’) Harbour on Lough Derg, with Portumna Forest Park to the West and the town of Portumna about 300 metres to the North and East.
Following conservation and restoration work, the ground floor of the castle is now open to the public. The conservation works on other parts of the castle are ongoing. To the north of the castle are formal, geometrically laid out gardens. The castle also includes the restored 17th century walled kitchen garden.
As with many historic buildings a number of local legends have grown up around the castle. One local legend goes that a child fell out of the upper windows. An Irish wolf hound raced over, broke the child’s fall and saved the child. A marker stone now rests on the site. The bones of the dog, called “Fury” according to a marker stone erected at the time of his death, have been found during excavations, and are now on display in the castle itself. The plan of campaign which nationalist leaders forced landlords to reduce rents started in Portumna. Lord Clanricarde was targeted because of his harsh brutality on his tenants, he was quoted on saying, ” if you think you can intimidate me by shooting my agent. you are mistaken” he demanded that the government offer all protection which his property was entitled, which they did, when rent day came in November 1886 4,000 tenants marched with a brass band past the estate office and to the hotel where a group of nationalist mp”s decided how much rent was to be paid, thus upon returning back to the estate office offered their rent, the officer in charge refused to take the reduced amount where upon the money was handed over to the mp’s for their defence, a certain William O’ Brien mp described it as ” an artist in political melodrama ” one of the main instigators in this drama was a Jeremiah O’Driscoll or affectionally known as “cus” because of the disturbances in Portumna, a 1887 act was brought into affect ” the new crimes act ” in effect the last Irish crimes act ever to be put on the British statue book.


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