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Brief History of the Area and the Castle itself

  • Richard de Burgo (Richard Burke) was the original owner/ occupier of the area: he was an Anglo-Norman (the Anglo-Normans arrived in Ireland in 1169 and brought their stone building traditions with them). Richard de Burgo in turn handed the village of Ardrahan over to Maurice Fitzgerald in 1235, whose family had the obligation to pay an annual tax of £4 12d. Within less than a century however, the family faced financial constraints because of an ongoing war and the area came under the control of Richard de Clare and the Earls of Ulster
  • Little is known about the history of Rahally Castle itself; suffice to say that the five story tower was built first and the west wing followed over a hundred years later. Most towers tend to square or rectangular in plan, comprising three or more storeys surmounted by a crenellated parapet and gabled roof with a garret or attic. The ground floor was generally used for storage, while the upper floors provided the living quarters with larger windows, aumbries (wall cupboards), latrines and occasionally separate bed chambers.  Fireplaces are found in the later examples.  The tower house also had a bawn or walled courtyard, within which were located the servants quarters, kitchens, outbuildings and possibly also a separate dining hall.
    • Many of the rooms still have these privy closets whose entrances are usually not more than four-foot high, which suggest that the family afforded servants to attend to the owners’ hygiene and other needs
  • Two rooms on the first level or ground floor still provide witness to ancient building techniques. i.e. the use of willow branches to form an arch over the walls, over which stones are secured with lime plaster. Impressions of these willow branches still remain in the plaster today
  • Other elements that highlight the fact that Rahally was a fortress include numerous spear windows on all four sides of the building as well as a murder hole over the main entrance, and a secret chamber that was accessed from the bed room above the main hall, where people probably hid themselves and their valuables in case of an invasion
  • Features of the narrow east structure include box machicolations centrally placed in the S and E walls while there are decorated spandrels in the angle loops in the NE and SE corners. The decoration appears as sculptured cherubs and floral motifs

about-1                 about-2

  • More recently, the current site of the kitchen was where the Healy family organized a sheep dipping enterprise. This consisted of a large pit that was filled with a mix of insecticides and fungicides and local people brought their sheep to be dipped for a small fee. This practice slowly disappeared after sprays became available, which provided greater efficiency, less use of chemicals and lower levels of soil and ground water contamination


The Castle today

  • Recent conservation works have succeeded in making the castle a more comfortable dwelling and far less permeable to the elements: heavy rains and gale force winds. Examples of such efforts include
    • Underfloor heating throughout the property serviced by a boiler powered with a heat pump as well as heating oil
    • Repointing of all external walls
    • Use of an invisible sealing membrane where needed
    • Fresh paint that enables the stone walls to breathe
    • Blinds and drapes on windows, many tapestries on walls, and floor rugs to provide tactile and visual warmth
  • All the wiring and plumbing are new, as is the wooden flooring throughout; Wi-fi is available throughout the castle
  • Rahally Castle is on approximately 7.23 acres, which include grazing pasture lands and a young fruit orchard. The building itself provides living spaces at seven different levels; connected by a spiral stone staircase which ultimately leads to a roof deck with absolutely gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside