We went for a lazy morning drive on Saturday in search of a bit of heritage and history. It’s often a thing we like to do here as there is so much to see and do off the beaten track in the west of Ireland. We came across this great little Castle ruins on the South side of County Sligo Close to Boyle Town. In the little village of Ballinafad just off the N4 Dublin to Sligo Road. The name was Ballinafad Castle ruins in County Sligo.
Ruins largely in tact still
For a ruins the shell was mainly in tact access to the inside of the ruins has been restricted due to safety however. The ruins at large had its main walls and towers still very prominent and you could certainly see the main structure of the castle.
Sit back and imagine
I have said before and I’ll say again these ruins bring so much joy I could sit here for ages and just wander once once went on in this little Castle. If only you could roll back the time.
A bit of history
The Ballinafad castle in Sligo is an Elizabethan blockhouse built during the Nine Years’ War by Captain John St. Barbe on land granted to him by King James VI and I.
The castle was garrisoned by ten men and commanded by John St. Barbe. It was partially destroyed by Red Hugh O’Donnel in 1595. The castle was again sacked in 1642 and fell out of use by 1680.
Give a quick visit
Like this post its short and sweet you won’t need long here, 15 minutes of looking and enjoying this ruins is all you need but in my book well worth the 15 stop off from the car.
Allow 15 minutes
This visit is free of charge
Is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week
No tours are available or necessary
Lough Arrow lookout
A short 2 minute drive down the road is the Lough Arrow lookout with beautiful views of the lough and the lush Sligo countryside.
Our other Castle visits
We have a ever growing selection of castles we have visited around Ireland, it is certainly a passion of ours here is a list below of the ones we have visited.
Just 5 minutes from Clifden centre along the Sky Road Loop
Head north on Westport Rd/N59 toward Church Hill/Sky Rd then Turn left onto Church Hill/Sky Rd. Follow the Sky road for 2.1km until you reach the archway.
Clifden Castle Brief History
The Clifden Castle is a manor house just 5 minutes west of the town of Clifden. It was built 1818 for John D’Arcy, the local landowner and founder of Clifden, and designed in the Gothic Revival style. It was then uninhabited after 1894 it fell into disrepair. In 1935, the ownership passed to a group of tenants shortly after and it quickly became a ruin.
Finding Your Way In
Firstly as mentioned above don’t go by Google maps or your end up in someone’s private garden. It’s for this reason I’d say is why they have electric gates.
Instead look for this Castle archway about 400 metres before on the Clifden side
The Walk In
Once through the arch a walk down country roads for about 1 km through farmland and cattle brings you passed great views of the Wild Atlantic Way and the ocean front.
An easy walk down to the castle your come across 5 stones to keep you on track like these ones below.
The final bend gives you a glorious view of the castle standing prominently at the bottom of the hill.
At The Castle
The Clifden Castle ruins itself is still quite largely in tact with all the outside structure in place. Obvious signs of wear and tear but I was surprised by the the condition and the structure and how much was still in place
When you wonder round the back you can see the back courtyard of the castle. It actually shows the structure isn’t huge and there is a large courtyard.
A few more of the front of the castle and the main tower it’s looks as if the bottom corner of it has taken some damage throughout the years. But ut is certainly as solid as ever.
Other Castles We Have Visited
We love a good castle, if it’s in operation or in ruins we don’t care. With all the history and to think what once went on behind those walls.
Roscommon Castle ruins was one of the first we saw In Ireland. We took a look around the castle and the grounds and thoroughly enjoyed it. See our guide to the Castle Here
Lough Rynn Castle in County Leitrim is another one we had great fun visiting and walking around the grounds find out a bit more about This Trip
More Wild Atlantic Way
This isn’t the only part of the Wild Atlantic Way we have done we have also, had a road trip to the picturesque village of Doolin and the legendary Cliffs of Moher. See our Road Trip. Further to the North West corner we experienced the historical town of Killala also steeped in history.
Lough Rynn lies on the original historic grounds of the medieval estate and castle of Mac Raghnaill family.
The Mac Raghnaill castle was situated at the opposite side to where the castle now lies. And below is all that remains of that original castle.
In 1883 Robert Bermingham, viscount Clement family built a mock Tudor house looking straight out over the lough. This is now where the current castle is.
1889 Lough Rynn was massively refurbished and and new wing was built.
The estate was bought in the early 21st century by the Hanly family. They renovated and modernised and transformed from an incredible ancestral home to the beautiful castle and in 2006 the castle was opened as a hotel.
Lough Rynn Castle is situated in the west of Ireland in County Leitrim, about 15 minutes from Carrick on Shannon, and 5 minutes from Mohill.
Trip Around The Grounds
Lough Rynn castle is a luxurious castle hotel and estate gardens. A perfect place to visit for a walk around the gardens which are stunning and there is even the added plus of the walled gardens. In all the estate stands at around 300 acres.
The photo below shows the castle from the back lawn, this is the original part of the castle which was restored. Avery elegant looking castles and covered by lush green surroundings. Pathways lead to this point and all is easily accessed.
The front of the castle, showing again the original part of the castle building. A very strong and striking looking front, certainly well built to last the distance.
Just outside the back of the castle is a perfect view out onto the lough. This is the perfect vantage point looking out from the castle and into the Lough. Small tables are scattered around to enjoy the views and have drinks or afternoon tea on a sunny day.
Take a walk down to the Lough and you get this stunning view, and certainly is a very peaceful spot to take it all in.
Just off to the right of the lough was the old boathouse. Still in great condition, it has been brilliantly maintained. This would of been in regular use back in the hay day, for row boats coming in and out and would of been the castles main access.
All the tracks around the gardens all flow continuously and link up. As you can see all looking so green and perfectly maintained, this is one thing about these grounds are how well maintained and kept they are.
The Walled Gardens
Lough Rynn has one of Irelands largest private walled gardens. Walled and secured to maintain its pristine condition and certainly an asset of the castle to have.
The gardens are always so immaculately keep even leading up the entrance looks so enchanting, like something out of a fairytale..
Inside the gardens a variety of plants, bushes, water features and even an old tower can be found. A fantastic spot for photos with this being the place for wedding photos of people marrying at the castle. This castle venue is known for being a great wedding venue and the gardens are a perfect addition for phot.
From the other side of the wall you can see where the Lough is. This big stretch of the Lough is used for rowing racing and plenty of water sport activities.
Note: access to the gardens is available by way of entering a code which can be retrieved at reception.
Food and drink @ Lough Rynn
Lough Rynn is a great place to unwind with a coffee and some treats something we have done many of times. I can personally recommend the house baked scones with all the trimmings jam and cream. Another great selection would be the afternoon tea a tower of delight with sandwiches, cakes and plenty of treats.
We looked at the food options for lunch and dinner and decided that the menu for lunch and dinner looked so good, with bar food throughout the hotel drawing rooms and lounges. The evening a fine dining approach in there flagship and award winning rosette award restaurant Sandstone.