A wealth of history on your doorstep
By Magdalena Szulc
Oranmore Castle is believed to have been built in the 15th century on the site of an older castle.
The castle used to be a stronghold of the Clanricardes, a well-known Norman family of Galway. In 1641 Galway was under the overlordship of the Marquess and Fifth Earl Clanricarde. The town revolted in March 1642 and then joined the Confederates with the Fort (St Augustin's) still holding out. Clanricarde placed a strong fort in the castle, from which he provisioned the Fort of Galway from the sea until 1643 when Captain Willoughby, Governor of Galway, surrendered both fort and castle without the Marquess’ consent. The castle capitulated to the Parliamentary forces in 1651.
Despite the fact the entire Marquess' property was surrendered, his descendant, the sixth earl, got back most of it including the castle. The castle was leased to Walter Athy in 1666. Walter's daughter, Mary, married secondly Walter Blake of Drumacrina, Co Mayo, and by that marriage her inheritors held Oranmore until 1853. That same year the estates of Walter Blake were sold to the Encumbered Estates Court.
The Blake family built the house against the south side of the castle. It was left in ruins when the Blake family left Oranmore and was left unroofed until it was bought in 1947 by Lady Leslie, a cousin of Winston Churchill and wife of the writer Sir Shane Leslie.
Lady Leslie reroofed the castle and gave it to her daughter, Leslie King, who is also well known as a writer under the name of Anita Leslie. Between 1950 and 1960 Mrs Leslie King and her husband, Commander Bill King, added a two storey wing that was joined to the castle by a single storey range. The castle is now occupied by Leonie King, daughter of Anita Leslie and Bill King, and her husband Alec Finn of De Danann.
Oranmore Castle stays open to tourists in May, July 1 - 27, August 4 - 31, and September 25 - 30 between 2pm and 6pm; it is closed on Sundays. For more information call 091-794256 or 086-6003160.