Dating from the 14th or early 15th century, Ross Castle is a tower house built by O’Donoghue Ross, the local chieftain. It was one of the last castles in Ireland to fall to Cromwellian forces in 1652. Ross Castle stands on Ross Island which is in fact connected to the mainland and is just a narrow neck of land jutting out into Loch Lein. The access was trenched across to afford extra protection to the castle in earlier days. Further out is a smaller rock named O’Donoghue’s Prison Rock, where the chieftain imprisoned and confined his rebellious son, Teighe Mergach (angry one) and his associates.
There is a legend regarding Prince O’Donoghue consulting books of black magic and using strange potions in an attempt to regain his youth. On one occasion, as he was reading one of his magical books, all the devils in the world appeared to him and created a noise that was so loud the castle would crumble to pieces. His wife let out a horrendous shriek which caused the castle to sway from side to side. In a panic, O’Donoghue jumped out of window and disappeared below the surface of the lake taking with him his books, table and horse. The story goes that he lives on in a lively palace at the bottom of the loch and that every seventh year he can be seen riding his charger with silver hooves across the lake.
Today the castle is authentically restored and contains 16th and 17th century furniture. Ross Castle is open to the public during the high season. Access for people with disabilities to the ground floor only by prior arrangement. Visitors may experience delays during the summer months so it’s best to check out the next tour on your arrival.
Opening hours: 13th Mar – 28th Oct 2014 from 9.30am – 5.45pm
Guided Tours: Scheduled tours. Access is by guided tour only – 40 minute duration. Videos/cameras are not permitted while on tour. Please note site is very restricted and can only accommodate groups of 15. All tour groups must pre-book.