A Letter from Ireland:

Did your family live in a castle?


Did your Gaelic/Norman family occupy a castle in Ireland at some stage?

Tower castle building was introduced to Ireland by the Normans on their arrival in the 1200s. This type of castle is quite rare in England and Wales – but you will find them in the more “dangerous” parts of the world – Ireland and Scotland!

The Gaelic Chieftains got in on the castle-building act from the 1300s onwards – mostly copying the original Norman style. These castles would have been lived in until the mid 1600s in many cases when “you-know-who” came and sacked many of the intact castle towers around the country. At this point, there are many hundreds of castle ruins and some restored castles spread throughout the country. Some on private property and some open to the public.

So – do let me know if your family inhabited one of these castles at some stage – or just pop you surname in the comments box below and I’ll give a yes/no answer.

In the meantime – you can buy – or rent – the pictured Ballyhealy castle in County Wexford. Built by the Cheevers and later occupied by the Bunburys. But beware, it may take a little time to heat up for a weekend stay!

  • Max Chevers says:

    My family, that of Che(e)vers, had Ballyhealy Castle,
    which was their headquaters for around 400 years, until Cromwell arrived in 1649, with cannon, to destroy most of it. They owned seven or eight residencws in the county, and controlled two parliamentary seats, as well as castles in Dublin’s Monkstown, and Macetown in Meath, Grangeforth in Co. Carlow.

    • Wendell Shivers says:

      Hello Max,

      My name is Wendell Shivers. My ancestors Walter and Thomas Cheevers were sent from Monkstown, Ireland to Virginia around 1653 (part of the Cromwell confiscations) and arrived at Isle of Wight, Virginia. I have information tracking my Irish ancestry to Ballyhealy Castle. If you have any information from this time, I would appreciate your sharing it. I can be reached at txshivers@yahoo.com. Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.

  • Michael Hickey says:

    Has any of the O’ Hickey family lived in a castle?

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