To understand the importance of Moyry Castle and the strategic position it held we must realise that four hundred years ago the area surrounding the Castle looked very different than it does today. Moyry Castle guarded the ‘Moyry Pass’ also known as the ‘Gap of the North’ which was one of the the only ways to progress from Leinster into Ulster the rest of the land being boggy, wooded and mountainous. This route to the North is one of the five main routes that extended from Leinster to the corners of Ireland and is mentioned as being used by ‘na Fianna’ in attacks on Leinster tribes. The castle was built on an imposing rock outcrop around 1601 during the Nine Year’s War by Lord Mountjoy as a stronghold on route to battle the Irish leader Hugh O’ Neill. This three story tower house is heavily fortified with musket-loops in all four walls and a machicolation above the entrance door. The castle originally stood within a protecting bawn wall, remnants of which still remain visible.
An interesting local folk story surrounds the castle. Shortly after its construction Lord Mountjoy left his warder and 12 men to guard the towerhouse, one day his warder shot a local man who was rumoured to be a wizard, deeming him to be a spy. The wizard had only one companion, a large black cat, his familiar, who in revenge destroyed the garrison. He slit the throats of the army’s flock and herds leaving the troops with no fresh food. The legend of the Cat of Moyry Castle was born, for many years terrorising soldiers from the Pale!
GPS: 54.07024, -6.38541
2 thoughts on “Moyry Castle, Armagh, Ireland”
It would be wonderful to actually view these old ruins in the context in which they were originally built. I am sure it would give us a better understanding of their purpose.
Red hen I think the majority of the reason I visit these old sites is to sit there and think to myself what these places experienced both when built and in later years. For example at a megalithic site like Loughcrew I end up thinking of the people who built it but also all those who came across its beauty each millennia since 🙂