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Doe Castle, Sheephaven Bay, County Donegal

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Doe Castle, or Caisleán na dTuath, near Creeslough, County Donegal, was the historical stronghold of Clan tSuibhne (Clan MacSweeney), with architectural parallels to the Scottish tower house. Built in the early 15th century, it is one of the better fortalices in the north-west of Ireland.

Doe Castle

The castle sits on a small peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water, with a moat cut into the rock of the landward side. The structure consists mainly of high outer walls around an interior bawn with a four-storey tower-house/keep.

Doe Castle was most likely built in the 15th century by the O’Donnell family, but by the 1440s it had come into the hands of the gallowglass MacSweeney family. The castle remained in the hands of the MacSweeney family for almost two hundred years until it fell into the hands of English settlers in the aftermath of the Plantation of Ulster in the early seventeenth century.

Doe Castle

It was there that Owen Roe O’Neill returned in 1642 to lead the Ulster Army of the Irish Confederate forces during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.

The castle changed hands repeatedly during the 17th-century struggle for control of Ireland between the English and the Irish. It is known that in 1650, Sir Charles Coote, the Governor of Londonderry, took possession of the castle.

Eventually, the castle was bought by Sir George Vaughan Hart and inhabited by his family until 1843.

Doe Castle

In 1932 the castle came into the hands of the Land Commission, and it 1934 was declared a national monument and was acquired by the Office of Public Works. The Towerhouse of the castle underwent a major restoration in the 1990s.

Irish singer Brian McFadden proposed to his (now ex-) wife, Kerry Katona, at the castle in 2001, it being the spot where his grandfather also had proposed to his grandmother.

The Castle grounds are open daily and guided tours of the towerhouse are available during the Summer months.

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Last updated May 29, 2023


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