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O'Cahan Castles

Castles of the O'Cahans

The O'Cahan castles as well as being in positions of great strength, and well chosen for defensive purposes, were from the scenic point of view beautifully situated. The Sept had numerous strongholds through their territory, the chief castle was at Limavady. This and the castle at Enagh Lough, not far from Derry, formed a protection on the western side, while Coleraine and Castleroe were suitable spots for a similar guard to defend the passes on the Bann. Tradition has it that an O'Cathain Chief called Dermot, had twelve sons for whom he built twelve castles. Firstly Cooey, ancestor to O'Cathain of Limavady, Dermot, Turlogh, Shane, Bryan, Donald, Murtogh, Donough, Naill, Owen, Evenny and Patrick. Their castles were at O'Cathain's brook at the foot fo Benbradagh, Limavady, Swatrea, Glenkeen near Garvagh, Flanders below Dooneven, Castle Rose near Coleraine, Eanagh, Ballyshesky near Beechhill, Clondermott, Coolnamuneen, Tiergolin, Castle Rose, was so called from Rose O'Cathain a celebrated beauty.

Dun Sobhairce - Dunseverick Castle

Dunseverick was the pride of the Route O Cathain family, and indeed was of such importance that the ancient fifth road from Tara (the ancient seat of the Irish High Kings) ends here. The O Cathain family held it from circa 1000 AD to circa 1320 AD... then regained it in the mid 1500s, when the MacDonnells and O Cathain clan ousted the McQuillians, from that time onward it was held by the Dunseverick O Cathain family. Last one to have the castle was Giolla Dubh O Cathain, who left it in 1657 to settle in the Craig/Lisbellanagroagh area. Dun" means fort and indicates a royal site, and Dunseverick is derived from Dun Sobhairce, who is said to have been the first chieftain to fortify the site about 500BC. The castle is nestled of a large rock standing solitarily along the coast, there are facilities for picnics and you can join the coastal path that starts from the Giant's Causeway passing through Dunseverick Castle, Dunseverick Harbour, Portbradden, Whitepark Bay and ending at Ballintoy Harbor . The path takes you past a majestic waterfall between the castle and harbour.

Brackfield Castle

A Castle belonging to the O'Cathains had existed in the parish of cumber, called Bracekfield castle, the greater part of the stones of the castle have been carried away by the locals for other purposes. Nearly the whole of the south eastern and half the height of the north western flanking tower has fallen down. The gate, orginally much broader is now built up and contracted into a narrow door sufficient for the entrance of cattle to be confined in the courtyard. Insight of the castle is the river of Faughan.



 

Castle in Movanagher

In the townland of Movanagher, near the eelweirs and on a rising ground at the banks of the Bann, there are the walls of a castle with flanking towers and battlements. The castle, during the times of 1641 rebel was in the hands of Thomas Church, agent to the Mercer Company. According to the ordance Survey Memoir the castle was built by the O'Cahans, who kept possession of it until they were driven out by the McQuillans. It was taken by surprise, but the O'Cahans who held it sold his life dearly, killing many of his assailants. The state of the castle in the 19th century saw the remaining walls in tolerable perservation. They are built 4 feet thick and very well built. The bottom is of stone and the top surmounted by battlements of brick.

The Castle at the 'Dogs Leap'

The Castle at the 'Dogs Leap' had a moat and drawbridge and a circular tower with guns in double tier. The above picture shows all that remains of the keep at CastleRoe, two miles south of Limavady. This castle was the chief seat during the 16th and part of the 17th century of the Lords of Keenaght and Firnacreeva, and probably erected towards the close of the 15th century. The castle appears in the annuals of ulster in 1542 "AD1542, Macquillin and the English treasurer with a great number of Englishmen made an incursion on O'Kane. They captured the castle of Limavady and slew all the warders stationed in it."

Account of CastleRoe states that "wherein Turlough O'Neill keepeth a constable, and a ward, to recieve his part of the fishings".

Ardmore Castle

In the Parish of Balteagh. On the eastern bank of the castle river, 330 yards north west of the an old church, are the ruins of an ancient castle said to have been first built and occupied by the O'Cathains, and afterwards by squire Philips. The old part of the walls now standing is 20 feet in length and from 1 to 3 feet high. About 1800 the rooms of the cellar is said to have been discovered in the south part of the castle, with the appearance of a well at the bottom, and steps of cur sandstone leading to it.

Ath-na-long Castle

This castle was located in the parish of Aghanloo, and previous to the plantation, this O'Cahan castle was in the townland of Ballycastle on the east bank of the Roe. This castle had the ancient name of 'Ath-na-long' or the Ford of the Ships. After the plantation the Haberdashers company as the seat of their land grant, and the castle was either repaired or wholly rebuilt by the London Company workers.

 

Killane Castle

Local tradition says that one of the O'cahan castle's formerly stood in the townload of Killane, Parish of Drumachose. It has given its name to a small river and bridge which are called the Castle river and Castle bridge. The 1800's have seen alot of stone s removed from the castle. The site of the castle is five - sixths of a mile form the market town Limavady and near the old road to Coleraine.

Dungiven Castle

Local tradition says that one of the O'cahan castle's formerly stood in the townload of Killane, Parish of Drumachose. It has given its name to a small river and bridge which are called the Castle river and Castle bridge. The 1800's have seen alot of stone s removed from the castle. The site of the castle is five - sixths of a mile form the market town Limavady and near the old road to Coleraine.

 

 

 

 




 

Annagh Castle

About two miles to the north-east of Derry, on the left side of the Coleraine road, are two small lakes, close by each other, called Enagh Loughs, between which, in the townland Templetown, is a cemetery containing the interesting remains of an ecclesiastical building, which, in former times, was a chapel of Clandermod in the corps of the deanery. Here the O'Cahans had their chief residence, and from them the whole tract, from the Foyle to the Bann, got the name "Patria de O'Kane". The castle of Eanach, which sources states "was situated on an island in Lough Enagh East," was demolished, according to the four masters in the year 1555, by Calvagh O'Donnell, but afterwards ' it must have been re-edified, as it is shown on several maps of Ulster, made in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I'. In Speed's map of Ulster it is called Anoghe, and placed at the west edge of the lake.

 

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