Garbally Castle.

Iconic local O'Kelly Clan Tower House.

Gerry Costello.




Garbally Castle © Gerry Costello Photography

Garbally Castle from the air

With great power and influence came the need for great fortifications and none were better at building strongholds and seats of power than the Kelly Clan. Here we look at some of the more famous castles built by the various Kelly Clans of Ireland:





Garbally Castle

Garbally Castle

© Gerry Costello

Garbally Castle, located close to Skehana, in the parish of Killoscobe, County Galway, is the remains of a 15th century tower house of the O’Kelly clan. It was build in 1499 by Malachy O’Kelly, later demolished by the troops of Oliver Cromwell and never repaired after that. Initially the castle was destroyed by MacWilliam De Burgo in 1504. However Samuel Lewis 1832 notes that it was “partially destroyed by Cromwell” along with the nearby castle of Clooncureen in the 17th century.

The building is now in ruins with only the NE section remaining. Garbally Castle was built using well-mortared rubble between the inner and outer facings, which are of good quality stone material and the masonry is of a high quality. Much of this castle, including its entire south-west wall is missing. The doorway in its east corner at ground level has two murder holes (one on either side of the door) for protection as well as what probably was an aperture for a door chain. It also has an inside door-bar slot. Around the doorway and windows the stone is cut and dressed.

There are the remains of two small windows at ground-floor level. A straight stairway in the castle’s south-east wall leads to the second storey. This storey was well provided with windows four of which remain, each in its own recess. Some of ihese windows are ogee-headed. There is no surviving evidence as to how the second storey floor was supported. Above it a pointed vault still shows the marks of wickerwork as do the recesses at this floor level. In addition to the mural stairway leading to the first floor (already mentioned) there is a passage in the north-west wall at second storey level and a stairway at the same level in the south-east wall that leads to the top floor. This top floor was also well provided with windows one of which, in the north-east wall, had a double ogee head and circular rear arch. Garbally is a fine example of a castle or tower house of the fifteenth or sixteenth century and has several interesting features such as a gradual batter (or slope) on its exterior walls, straight mural stairways and the defences at the door.


This page was added on 08/09/2014.

Comments about this page

    my grandfather side robert kelly from glasgow . will have to do more research nice articles on the kellys

    By Alexander Drummond Methven (21/08/2021)
  • Thanks Alexander. There has been much research done on the Kelly/O’Kelly clans in Ireland. You should plenty links on these on the web. Thanks for checking in. Jimmy.

    By jlaffey (22/08/2021)
  • It wasn’t William O’Kelly (generation 30 from Maine Mor) the 9th son of Macleachlainn (generation 29) which was known for his hospitality in Aughrim, but his grandfather William Bui O’Kelly (generation 28). The feast was hosted at Galey castle in Roscommon and last 30 days. It was after him who William the 9th son was named for.

    By Michael Kelly (28/04/2017)
  • A great landmark that must have been a great building in it’s day. I guess the roadways were just tracks when construction was made.

    By Alan Fitzmaurice (30/10/2015)

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