Portumna Castle

Portumna Castle

Portumna Castle is a castle in the town of Portumna, County Galway.
The castle was built in 1212 AD by William Marshall and given to his son William Martell.

Portumna Castle has been occupied since 1212 AD when it was built by Sir William Marshall who gave it to his son as a wedding present. The family lived at Portumna for 250 years before moving to Drumcree Castle outside Tuam. In the late 1400s, a grandson of William Martell, Sir John Ponsonby, built nearby Cloncurry Castle. In 1588, Henry O’Malley and his brother Tibbot Burke attacked Portumna Castle but were repulsed by Sir Walter Raleigh who was there to defend the property for Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1642 when Cromwellian troops under Colonel Jones took control of Ireland they were stationed in Portumna.

The following year Parliament ordered that the castle be demolished to prevent it being used as a stronghold by rebels. Only one tower was left standing; this can still be seen today. It now houses a bar and restaurant called Malones Bar & Restaurant.

In the early 1700s, Charles Brownlow of the Brownlow family who owned a castle at Moneymore in Northern Ireland rented Portumna Castle and began building a mansion there. In 1756, John Brownlow was ambushed on his way to Portumna by the Whiteboys who hid in a field until he had passed before they attacked him. He was rescued by his sister, Lady Tyrone.

In the 1860s, the castle was bought by Major Frith whose great grandfather had been one of Cromwell’s commanders.

In the late 1800s, a new estate was built by the Frith family on the grounds of Fort Portumna, a 17th-century unfinished star fort. The entrance to the estate was via an avenue flanked by large stone gateposts which were topped with carved griffins.

At the end of World War II, Portumna Castle and its grounds were bought by John Horne, a successful businessman who had made his first fortune in the United States selling wickerwork chairs under the brand name La-Z-Boy. In 1947 he sold his company for £1m to Middle Atlantic Distribution Company who went on to become one of America’s biggest furniture importers. Horne had already bought five castles in Ireland and England which he donated to the state.

In 1976, Portumna Castle was bought by John O’Connor who established a hotel, restaurant and leisure complex there. At the same time, he added an extension with a large conservatory containing a tropical fish tank from which visitors can look down on the hotel’s golf course.

The castle is now a four star hotel and conference centre accommodating 120 guests. As well as the main building, there are two gate lodges in neo-classical style, each with its own ballroom and accommodation for up to 30 guests.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about Malahide Castle Dublin

Amy Green

Hi, my name is Amy and I am a UK based teacher and blogger. I spent most of my childhood summers exploring castles of England and Wales, and most of my adulthood teaching humanities in Secondary schools. I love visiting and learning about Norman and Medieval Castles.

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