OBJECTID: 62390 Monument Identifier: KE03314 Classification: TOHO Irish Grid Easting: 38891 Irish Grid Northing: 105239 RMP_PROP: 1 County ID: 12 WebNotes: Gallarus Castle: Very little is known of this FitzGerald tower house which is situated in the village of Gallarus on the S shores of Smerwick Harbour. Probably 15th century in date, the castle was occupied by the FitzGeralds until 1688 (McKenna 1979, 13). It is now a National Monument (No.65/1) and in recent years the stonework has been repointed and a felt and concrete capping added to the roof. The 4 storey rectangular keep measures 10.5m x 8.65m externally and rises from a battered base. The castle retains its vaulted roof but the battlements have fallen. The walls are built of split stone rubble and pinnings laid in mortar with face bedded sandstone quoins. The majority of the window opes are now defaced and many of the internal doorways lack their sandstone dressings. The internal planning of the castle, basically similar on each floor, consists of a main chamber, c. 6.15 x 4.3m, with a mural passage in the thickness of the N wall later accommodating the stair which commences at 3rd storey level. The principal floors were of beam wall-plate construction throughout, the built-in beams supported by rough corbels which project from the E and W walls. Both of these walls slope inwards on the interior from the level of the 2nd floor, effectively reducing the span of the arched roof; the increased wall thickness was utilized to gain mural chambers in the SE and NW angles. The mural passageways and chambers were ceiled by flags resting on the oversail formed by the inward corbel of the supporting walls. This feature, repeated on the lintelled embrasures of the larger windows, is reminiscent of the dry stone building techniques traditional to the area.
A ragged gap in the N wall marks the site of the ground floor entrance; section of the draw bar socket for the door is preserved, but the entrance passageway, fitted with a small mural chamber opening to the W, is now defaced. The remains of the flagged roof of the entrance area indicate that it was not angled to accommodate a mural stairs. It seems likely therefore that the blocking wall which prevents access to the main ground floor chamber at present was originally fitted with a doorway. No trace of this is preserved however and entry must be gained by ladder from above. The main chamber was lit by 2 narrow double-splayed loops with lintelled rear arches in the E and S walls; the latter has irregularly-splayed ingoings and both windows were closed by wooden shutters secured by draw bars. A narrow loop in the W wall is set in a lintelled embrasure with widely-splayed ingoings. There is a wall-cupboard at the S end of the E wall and a corner cupboard in the SW angle.
Communication between the main chambers at 1st and 2nd storey level was probably by means of an internal wooden stairs secured in a small recess in the NE corner. The 1st floor chamber was lit by windows in the W, S and E walls; the opes now lack their heads but the surviving dressings indicate narrow lights with chamfered jambs rebated for shutters. The windows were set in rectangular lintelled embrasures, that on the S being fitted with window seats.
A rectangular doorway at the E end of the N wall gave access to the mural chambers here. The projecting sandstone jambs were rebated for a door which could be secured from within the chamber by a drawbar; the door when open occupied a shallow recess on the E wall designed for its reception. The solid floor of the chamber in the thickness of the NE angle has been partially quarried away and the garderobe shaft, delivering from the upper floor, has been exposed and broken back to enable modern access to the 3rd and 4th storeys of the castle. At present the chute terminates at 1st floor level and has no visible outlet. A vertical groove in the canted W wall of the passage probably secured a stone or wooden latrine. The chamber was lit by 2 splayed lintelled opes in the N and E walls, both now defaced externally. The flagged floor of the chamber which occupied the western section of the passage has largely fallen and there is a large break in the outer N wall. This chamber, entered by a door opening to the W, now represented only by draw bar sockets in the N and S walls, was lit by a narrow round-headed light in the W wall. The ope had splayed ingoings and a lintelled rear arch but the jambs have fallen. The splayed ingoing of what was probably a similar ope is visible adjoining the fallen section of the N wall and the chamber was fitted with a wall-cupboard on the S.
Access to the 2nd floor was probably again by means of an internal wooden stairs. The main chamber at this level was lit by narrow lights in the E, S, and W walls. The E light is now defaced and the lintelled head and flagged bed of the embrasure have been largely broken away. The S window, set in an embrasure with curved ingoings and fitted with window seats, has a modern head; the chamfered sandstone jambs were rebated for a shutter, secured by a draw bar. The W window, set in a rectangular lintelled embrasure, now lacks its jambs but preserves its unusual pointed head formed by 2 inclined sandstone blocks. There is a large walk-in cupboard or wardrobe in the SW corner.
A round-headed doorway in the SE corner gave access to the mural chamber in the angle here. This rectangular chamber was ceiled by flags supported in part by a corbelled projection of the S wall, and was lit by a small rectangular light on the S. A rectangular doorway at the N end of the W wall of the main chamber led to an L-shaped chamber in the thickness of the NW angle. The chamber was fitted with a wall-cupboard on the S and lit by a splayed ope in the N wall, now defaced externally.
A large set-back central doorway in the N wall of the main chamber retains section of its round head and broadly chamfered jambs. The latter were rebated for a door which could be secured from within the chamber by a draw bar. This doorway gave access to a small mural lobby lit by a window in the outer N wall of the castle. The ope, set in a rectangular lintelled embrasure, is now defaced but the large upper pivot stone for a shutter is preserved. The flagged roof of this area incorporates 2 stones worked and assembled to form a rectangular opening, the function of which is unclear; the opening is too small to have facilitated the passage of goods etc.
A doorway, only the draw bar sockets of which are preserved, opened off the lobby to the E and led to the mural stairs here. The S wall of the passage is checked to accomodate the door and the ascent was lit by a splayed lintelled ope in the N wall. The stair runs as a straight flight to the NE angle, in which, in the form of a turnpike, it makes a half turn. A window ope in the E wall, now a featureless gap externally, illuminated the stairway here. The garderobe chamber, opening off the stairwell to the S, at 3rd floor level, now lacks its floor and the walls have been largely refurbished to support the modern drainage system of the roof.
The 3rd floor of the castle consists of a large main chamber with a continuous mural passage in the N wall and NW angle as well as the garderobe chamber in the thickness of the E wall. A short flight of steps, leading upwards from the E end of the mural passage, was probably originally linked to the stairway in the NE angle of the castle. The passage was lit by a window in the N wall, at the foot of the flight of steps; only the splayed ingoings and lintelled rear arch are preserved. A large pivot stone set over the inner angle of the embrasure is probably not in situ. An opening in the S wall of the passage, opposite the window, led to the main chamber; it does not appear to have been fitted with a door. A doorway across the width of the passage, about midway along its length, led to the reshaped mural chamber in the thickness of the NW angle. The latter, retaining its flagged roof, was lit on the W by a narrow light. Only section of the segmental head and the jambs, rebated internally for a shutter, survive.
The main 3rd floor chamber retains its barrel vaulted roof raised on wooden centering. Vertical chases, at least .5m high, on the E and W walls, indicate 15 paired trusses; the vault was fitted with rectangular smoke holes at its N and S ends. The chamber was considerably reduced in width by the inward corbel of the side walls and was lit by 2 windows in the S wall. The westernmost window, a narrow rectangular light with splayed ingoings, is set in a rectangular lintelled embrasure fitted with a recess on the W. The splayed eastern window was set in a rectangular lintelled embrasure now partly filled with rubble; the narrow chamfered light has an ogee head and the jambs were rebated for a shutter. A narrow rectangular doorway in the eastern ingoing of the embrasure led to a mural chamber in the thickness of the SE angle. This chamber, ceiled by flags, was lit by 2 narrow lights in the S and E walls, both fitted with slop stones.
No section of the castle is preserved above the level of the vaulted roof, but the stair in the NE angle probably continued upwards, giving access to the battlements.
The above description is derived from J. Cuppage, ‘Corca Dhuibhne. Dingle Peninsula archaeological survey. Ballyferriter. Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne’ (1986), no. 1006. In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.
Date of upload: 6 August 2013
Zone Code: R102599 ITM Easting: 438876 ITM Northing: 605294 SHAPE: Point Att.: 0 Class: Castle - tower house SMR No.: KE042-064---- Townland: GALLARAS Point: X: 438876.0 Y: 605294.0 Spatial Reference: 2157