|Location||Comber, County Down, Northern Ireland (Google Map)|
|Open for Visitors||Yes|
|Owned by||Montgomery Family|
|Official Website||Sketrick Castle|
Sketrick Castle lies to the southeast of the town of Comber, in County Down, Northern Ireland. O’Neill led a great army into Clannaboy to assist MacQuillan and captured the castle in 1470. The same occurrence was mentioned in The Annals of the Four Masters, marking the first trace of Sketrick Castle’s existence. The castle was also a part of warfare activities over a long period during the 16th century.
History of Sketrick Castle
Situated on the western boundary of Sketrick Island, off Strangford Lough, Sketrick Castle relishes the picturesque country delights. This magnificent ancient castle dates back to the late 12th century. The native rumour it to have been built by Vikings, but the Anglo-Norman influence is evident from the boundary walls to the foundation.
It was Sir Robert Savage in the 14th century who bought the Sketrick Castle off the market after the war. It was passed down in his highly influential Anglo-Norman family until the 16th century when they married into Sir Hugh Montgomery’s family. Since then, it has been passed down from Viscount Montgomery and stayed in the family as indicated in the “Estate of Hugh Montgomery”.
Sketrick Castle undoubtedly housed one of the finest keeps in all of Northern Ireland. But that’s not all it housed. It also has the perfect escape route. Such knowledge was established when a subterranean 15-meter long passage was discovered in 1957. The said passage opened to a corbel over a hot water spring. Along with this, in plain sight laid a lock-up, a treasury, and a murder hole that protected then’s occupants from mortal danger.
Today tourists easily access the castle through a causeway via the mainland. The place is animal friendly and open to all free of cost.
Architecture of Sketrick Castle
Originally 57 feet high, 51 feet long, and 27 feet wide, Sketrick Castle was first a rectangular four-storey tower house. There were four chambers at ground level. The largest one had a vault built and two brick-lined recesses, indicating ovens. The high central space had a boat bay and subterranean passage. Apart from the chambers, a straight mural stairway rose to the left of the entrance and continued in the southern wall to the second-floor level. A spiral stairway near the northeast corner gave access to the upper levels.
Today, only a narrow stack of bricks survives of this tower house after the castle collapsed in 1896 due to the storm. It is only a part of the bawn wall to the north and east of the castle that survives the wrath of nature and time.
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