Cullahill Castle, Laois, Ireland

Cullahill Castle, aka Cullohill, is a dramatic but quite ruinous tower house, rising five stories high, situated on a rock outcrop near the village of Cullahill in Laois. It was constructed around 1425 by the MacGillapatricks of Upper Ossory, Finghin MacGillapatrick being the possible builder. The castle and its bawn walls were attacked persistently during its lifetime by crown forces from Kilkenny, whose citizens received an award from King Henry VI in 1441 for the ‘breaking’ of Cullahill. The castle continued to be occupied by the MacGillaptricks and was badly damaged again in 1517 by crown forces from Kilkenny, who attacked the castle and took one of its principal gates as a trophy to be displayed in the Kilkenny Tholsel. It was during the Cromwellian Wars when the North wall was bombarded and destroyed completely by cannon. The castle was recorded as being ‘out of repaire’ by the time of the Down Survey in 1657.

The castle is surrounded by a bawn wall which is incorporated into the yard of a later farm house. A small chapel just a couple hundred metres from the castle would have served as the personal chapel of the MacGillapatricks. Cullahill is striking and worth a visit, one feature I could not see on the day of my visit was the Sheela na Gig up high on the east wall, but I believe this could only really be seen from the adjoining property.

GPS: 52.81622, -7.47284

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