The Knappogue Castle (Irish language: Caisleán na Cnapóige) & Walled Garden, built in 1467, is located in County Clare, Ireland. It was built by Seán Mac Conmara, and is a good example of a medieval tower house. It has a long and varied history, from a battlefield to a dwelling place. In 1571 the castle became the seat of the Mac Conmara (McNamara) sept ~ Earls of West Clancullen. Donnchadh Mac Conmara was a leader of the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and Knappogue remained in Mac Conmara hands throughout the Irish Confederate Wars of the 1640s. However, after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland (1649-53) it was confiscated by Oliver Cromwell’s parliament and granted to a ‘Roundhead’, Arthur Smith.
However, after the monarchy was restored in 1660, Knappogue was returned to its Mac Conmara owners. The Mac Conmara sept sold the castle to the Scotts in 1800; the latter carried out major restoration and extension work.
In 1855, the castle was acquired by Lord Dunboyne, who continued the restoration work. The castle’s history is imaginatively related on colourful panels throughout its rooms.
During the War of Independence, Clare County Council held their meetings at Knappogue Castle where they were guarded by the East Clare Flying Column. Michael Brennan, Commander of the East Clare Brigade also used the castle as his headquarters during that time.
In the 1920s, a local farmer leased the Knappogue castlelands as grazing land for his cattle. One of the cows wandered into the castle, which by this time had fallen into disrepair. The cow wandered up the stone stairs, stepped out onto the crumbling wood floor, and fell to its death on the stones below. As compensation for the lost cow, ownership of the castle and its surrounding lands were granted to the farmer, who continued to graze cattle there. In 1966, the castle and lands were purchased in 1966 by the Hon. Mark Edwin Andrews of Houston Texas. He and his wife (a prominent American architect), in collaboration with Shannon Development, carried out an extensive and sensitive restoration. Their work returned the castle to its former 15th century glory while encompassing and retaining later additions that chronicle the continuous occupation of the Castle.
The Andrews were the last occupants of the Castle. Shannon Development purchased the castle in 1996 with the intention of preserving the building for future generations.
Dating from 1817, the beautiful 1.248 acre (5,000 m²) garden is now restored to its former splendour. The tall and imposing walls of the garden have now been refurnished with climbing roses, grapevines and many varieties of clematis.