|Location||Monea, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland (Google Maps)|
|Open for Visitors||Yes|
|Rooms Available||Yes (Weddings, Events)|
Lying in the beautiful countryside, in the village of Monea, Monea Castle is an incredible castle being one of the largest and best-preserved plantation bawns in Ulster, Northern Ireland. It presents a treat for history enthusiasts and a most advantageous site for children to play, demanding a visit on your next family picnic if you are in the county.
Monea Castle was built by Reverend Malcolm Hamilton, the Rector of Devenish, in 1618, who was later promoted to become Archbishop of Cashel in 1623. The story about the origin of the castle is intriguing as it speaks about the trials of the English- Scottish settlers during that time. It began with Fermanagh’s Gaelic landowners who fiercely opposed Queen Elizabeth’s attempts to rule Ireland in the late 16th Century. Therefore, the English and Scottish settlers built defensive castle-type dwellings, finding themselves in a hostile native population. The Plantation Houses of Ulster, including the Monea Castle bawn, emerged from this settlement. However, in the Irish Rebellion of 1641, the castle was attacked by Rory Maguire as it was probably built on lands owned by his family before the Plantation of Ulster, but he failed to capture it. The castle was refurbished shortly after the incident and again used by the planters and landowners.
Later in 1688, it was occupied by Gustavus Hamilton, the Governor of Enniskillen, who suffered huge financial losses in the Williamite Wars and died in 1691. His wife and children continued to live in the castle but had to sell it in 1704 due to their state of affairs. Unfortunately, the castle was devastated by fire a few decades later and was subsequently left in abandonment.
The design of Monea Castle is reflected in its Scottish style of construction. The castle is a rectangular tower house three storeys high, with large attics and a vaulted ground floor. Two massive semi-cylindrical towers are situated on either side in the southwest end of the castle. It is made of lime and stone 54 feet long and 20 feet broad. A wall 9 feet in height and 300 feet in the circuit was added in the bawn shortly after in 1623. The entrance of the castle lay on the south side of the north tower leading to a spiral stair giving access to the rooms laying on the first floor with large windows including seats in the corners. The castle, however, in ruins, is freely accessible to visitors to admire the imposing architecture of the castle.
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