Built in 1480 by the MacGiollaphadraig / Fitzpatricks of Borris-in-Ossory, this small but beautiful castle is nestled in picturesque Irish countryside. It is located in County Laois, on the Bealach Mor (Bay-lock More), or the road to Munster.
For many years, Ballaghmore Castle, which is situated on 30 peaceful acres, was long used as a granary, having severely ravaged in 1647 during Cromwell's invasion of Ireland. In 1990, the castle was privately purchased, restored to much of its former glory, and is today open to the public, and rented out to visitors.
Noteworthy features include the spectacular views from its battlements and a rare sheela-na-gig, an ancient, stone-carved fertility symbol, used by the pre-Christian Celts to turn away evil spirits.
Ballaghmore Castle offers guided tours to visitors as well as rental for dinners, weddings and parties. Also located on the grounds – a guesthouse that dates back to the 16th century and offers bed and breakfast accommodations, and picturesque Rose Cottage, also rented out visitors.
After the Fitzpatricks, ownership of Ballaghmore Castle later passed to the Coote family, who leased the fortress to the Elys. Richard Ely made a substantial discovery of gold treasure on the property. He used the money to begin renovations of the distressed castle during the 1830’s, which were not completed before an angry tenant shot him to death, depriving him of the opportunity to ever take residence in the renovated castle.
Aerial view of Ballaghmore Castle. Image: CastleBallaghmore.com