O'Molloy Castle in Eglish
O’Molloy Castle in Eglish
When King’s County was created in 1557, the ancient territory of Firceall was included in it and divided into the baronies of Eglish, Ballyboy and Ballycowan. The baronies were named after the strongest castle in each at the time. The barony of Eglish was names after Eglish Castle, a large country house. The house was added to the original castle built by the O’Molloy family in the late 15th or early 16th century.
“Eglish” is derived from the word “Eaglais” meaning church in the Irish language. The Irish pronunciation is somewhat like "Ah-glish".
Immediately adjacent to the O’Molloy castle is the Eglish graveyard which has been the site of human habitation dating back to medieval times and beyond. This is because local geomorphology results in a natural “bottleneck” that directs north/south travellers to pass it. This would have facilitated trade, collection of tax from travellers and strategic defence - hence the location of the O’Molloy castle.
The present graveyard is on elevated ground surrounded to the south and east by a defensive earth mound and ditch, possibly originating in ancient times and is surrounded by a stone wall, probably built in the Tudor period. Some outlines of stone structures, probably medieval buildings, are still visible. An early church of which there are now no upstanding remains was recorded within the graveyard in the 19th century.
The O’Molloy Tower House in the 21st Century
Kerrigan describes the O'Molloy castle as follows: “...the remains of the castle comprise portions of its north and west walls constructed of roughly coursed limestone rubble standing two stories high. There are traces of a slight base-batter on the surviving walls and the original entrance was probably located in the east wall. A later 18th century house adjoins the north wall. A rebuilt doorway at the west end of the north wall gives access to a mural stairs running from west to east. The now destroyed first floor was reached from this mural stairs. Among the surviving features at this level are a mural passage in the west wall and a guardroom in the northwest corner containing a musket loop. The support for a wall-walk is discernable on the north wall. A bawn wall which is largely intact adjoins the tower house at its southwest angle and encloses the site on its south and east sides. Several later outbuildings adjoin the bawn, and cobblestone paving is visible in the SW corner of the courtyard."
Eglish Castle is registered on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.