I recently visited the very well preserved remains of a tower house at Castlegrove near Tuam, Co. Galway. Known locally as Jenning’s Castle, the fortress was built by the de Burgo (Burke) family, most likely during the 16th century. It was to remain in their possession until the tumultuous Cromwellian Confiscations of the the 1650s, which saw much of the Irish Catholic landholding class disposed. The tower then passed into the hands of various owners including the Blake and Jenning families.
Today the castle consists of a rectangular, five-storey tower, which has a footprint of circa 12m long by 10m wide. Access is gained via a pointed-arch doorway in the eastern wall, which is guarded by an overhead machicolation and an internal murder-hole. There is also at least one flanking musket-hole protecting the entrance. When I arrived the doorway was sealed by a relatively modern iron grill which, unfortunately, blocked entry to the interior.
Both gables of the roof survive and chimney stacks rise from western gable and northern wall. Semi-circular machinolations defend the corners of the tower, at roof level, while a number of arrow slits are found along the castle walls. In addition, there are some square, twin light mullion windows with hood mouldings.
A fine example of a 16th century tower house, Jenning’s castle is easily accessible from the main Ballinrobe to Tuam road and is well worth a visit.
Alcock, O., de hÓra, K. & Gosling, P. 1999 Archaeological Inventory of County Galway, Vol. II – North Galway, The Stationary Office, Dublin, p. 401