Moross Castle

Built in 1532, this McSwyne tower-house was inhabited in 1601 by Alexander McDonaloghe.

In 1610 it was granted to Henry Vaughan and was described in 1622 as 'formerly an old Irish castle and the walls of a small house upon which Arthur Terry, gent, assignee to Henry Vaughan, hath set a roof of birch timber, thatched, the walls of the castle being in some parts repaired, having neither roof nor floor. Adjoining to the castle is a little court made by Terry of stones only without clay or lime, 5 ft high.

The tower-house is situated on a small rocky island which is joined to the shore by a causeway 45m long. It is protected by a cliff on the N, W, S and SE and by a steep slope on the E and NE . Only the SW corner survives, two storeys in height. It is built of rubble laid in a coarse sea-sand mortar; the quoins are missing but the bond holes indicate that they were of ashlar construction . There is a mural passage in the ground floor of the W wall 1.4m high; the N end is rebated on the E (for a door jamb), and has the remains of a splayed ingoing on the W. A stone-facing has been added to the cliff face on the N, and this probably served to underpin the NW corner of the tower-house. A ragged opening in the S wall provides access to the mural passage. It is doubtful if there was a door in this position; some wall footings survive on the interior. There may have been a small loop or window here, the W ingoing for which remains. The recess on the E could have served as a seat or wall-press. The W ingoing for a deeply splayed loop survives at the E end of the S wall.

There is a scarcement at first-floor level and at the N end of the W wall is the S half of a window set in a sub-rectangular embrasure. There is a band of facing on the N side of this wall below the interior window-sill level; this is probably the remains of a murder hole shaft.

There is a small section of rock outcrop on the SE side of the island and a few courses of masonry survive at its N end. The area to the S of the tower­ house might have been enclosed by some form of bawn wall and this may have been the position of the house noted in the 1622 report.

Moross Castle circa 1925

Text & Diagram courtesy of: "Archaeological Survey of County Donegal: A description of the field antiquities from the Mesolithic Period to the 17th century A.D." by Brian Lacy with Eamon Cody, Claire Cotter, Judy Cuppage, Noel Dunne, Vincent Hurley, Celie O'Rahilly, Paul Walsh and Sean Ó’Nuallain.

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  • Date: Wednesday, 25 May 2016
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