Doolin’s castles offer a glimpse into the area’s fascinating history and should not be missed during your trip along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Two of Doolin’s castles, Doonmacfelim Castle, and Doonagore Castle are just a short walk from the Lodges, while Ballinlacken Castle, O’Brien’s Tower, and the Napoleonic Tower at Hags Head overlooking the Cliffs of Moher are only a few kilometers away. These historic sites have stories to tell about centuries of conquests, battles, and cultural transformations.
Doonmacfelim Castle – A 14th-Century Castle
Doonmacfelim Castle is thought to have been constructed upon a pre-existing fortified location, possibly dating back to the 14th century. It is located along a narrow path to the right of O’Connor’s pub and just behind our Lodges.
The tower house was erected around 1600, changed ownership multiple times during the tumultuous events of that time, and had been the property of Teigue McMurrogh O’Brien in 1577.
During the 1641 rebellion, it was owned by Donogh O’Brian, who retained ownership after the rebellion but passed it on to John Sarsfield.
The name suggests a fortress (Dun/doon) belonging to the son of Felim (Macfelim), and historical records indicate that Felim O’Connor was the known owner during that era.
Today, only the vaulted ground floor remains, and the castle is now a national monument that sends you back in time.
Doonagore Castle – A 16th-Century Tower House
Perched on the hill behind Sea View House and offering panoramic views of Doolin Point, Doonagore Castle stands as the most intact of Doolin’s castles, situated along the steep road leading from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher.
Though the current structure was reconstructed in the 1970s based on old plans and prints, its origins date back to the mid-1500s when it was first erected on a pre-existing fortified site.
Teige MacTurlough O’Conner was the initial builder, but ownership of the castle changed hands numerous times amid the turbulence and conflicts of subsequent years. Eventually, the castle fell into disrepair during the mid-1800s.
This iconic tower house, which forms a round structure and dates back to the 16th century, is nestled within a small walled enclosure approximately 1 km above the village of Doolin. Although its construction material doesn’t come from Doonagore stone, the tower house was granted to Turlough O’Brien of Ennistymon in 1582, and its materials were sourced from the depleted Tra Leachain quarry.
Doonagore Castle holds a dark historical event within its walls. In 1588, during the Spanish Armada’s retreat from their ill-fated invasion attempt of England, the high sheriff of County Clare, Boetius MacClancy, apprehended 170 survivors from a Spanish shipwreck. These unfortunate souls were subsequently hanged at the castle and laid to rest in a nearby burial mound called Cnocán an Crochaire.
The Gore family arrived in Clare in 1653 and undertook repairs in the early 1800s. However, neglect befell the castle once again when it was entrusted to the Nagle family, resulting in further deterioration. In 1837, it was described as a round tower on a square base.
Architect Rex MacGovern from Lardner & Partners undertook the castle’s restoration in the 1970s for its private purchaser, Irish American John Gorman, who had amassed his wealth from a cigar plantation in Ecuador. Mr Gorman’s generosity extended to donating the plantation’s bell, now residing in Doolin’s Catholic Church. Major repairs were later undertaken in 2012 by Mr. O’Gorman’s stepson, following an electrical fire that occurred in 2011.
Privately owned, Doonagore cannot be visited by the public, nevertheless with its vast panoramic views of the mighty Atlantic coastline and the breathtaking countryside of County Clare, it will provide a classical postcard shot and shouldn’t be missed.
If you are traveling by car, note there is no parking available at Doonagore Castle, we advise you not to stop at the bend for your safety.
Have you ever dreamed about a historic castle in your back garden?
You came to the right place.
Enjoy unruffled views of Doonmacfelim Castle from the kitchen or your private hot tub, and imagine how life has been many years ago. An experience that captures the essence of Ireland’s natural splendor and your chance to step into history and create unforgettable memories.
Whether you want to visit the Cliffs of Moher, explore the Burren National Park, or simply relax and soak in the breathtaking views our collection of luxury vacation home rentals offers the perfect blend of style, comfort, and convenience.
Nestled in the heart of Doolin, available for both daily and weekly stays we guarantee you a truly unique experience. Check availabilities here.