Ballinafad Castle – Explore Sligo

Lazy morning drive

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.

The Ballinafad Castle

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.

Towers on the Ballinafad 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.

Castle inside

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.

Castle Tower

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.

Finer details

  • 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.

Lough Arrow

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.

You can also find a few castle adventures on our other site Travel Through Ireland

Clifden Castle, Connemara

Whilst taking a drive across the Sky Road from Cifden we stumbled down the hill what seemed to be a Castle ruins. Later that night after a bit of research it appeared to be the Clifden Castle ruins.

We decided the next day we would drive back and go see how easy access  was and see it for ourselves.


Just 5 minutes from Clifden centre along the Sky Road Loop

Getting There

From Clifden

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 Archway from sky road

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 stones Clifden Castle

The final bend gives you a glorious view of the castle standing prominently at the bottom of the hill.

Clifden Castle

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

The Clifden Castle close up

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

Roscommon castle

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

Lough Rynn Castle

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 Castle

Lough Rynn Castle A Brief 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 grounds at Lough Rynn

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.

Original part of castle

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.

Castle front

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.

Back of the castle looking over the Lough

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.

Out onto Lough Rynn

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.

Walled Garden Lough Rynn

The gardens are always so immaculately keep even leading up the entrance looks so enchanting, like something out of a fairytale..

Walled Gardens Entrance

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.

Part of the Lough

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.

Afternoon Tea at Lough Rynn

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.


Lough Rynn Castle Estate & Gardens, Mohill, Co Leitrim, N41 WE16, Ireland
T: +353 (0) 71 9632700

And Finally

Thanks for stopping by and reading Lough Rynn castle post, it certainly is a great castle Leitrim has to offer.

Another great spot around Leitrim would be the Glencar Waterfall and walking track suitable for all ages. Leitrim is also in close proximity to Roscommon and there are an abundance of things to do in Roscommon.

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