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Abandoned Gothic Castle, County Kerry, Ireland

The abandoned Dromore Castle is located on the banks of Kenmare Bay in County Kerry, one of the most evocative regions of the Emerald Isle.

The architectural design of this once-magnificent manor house is neo-Gothic/Revival Gothic. Most of its classic features are still intact such as lancets, turrets, spiral staircases, carriage arches, oriel windows, and of course, the famous round tower which is a replica of the Rock of Cashel.

Dromore Castle and Estate dates back to the 19th century when it was built for Rev. Denis Mahony and his family, in 1839, by the famous Victorian architect, Thomas Deane.

The Mahonys were, in early times, powerful chieftains and landowners in the province of Munster, and had extensive estates along the sea-coast of counties Cork and Kerry.

Rev. Denis Mahony was a Church of Ireland minister who was also known for setting up a soup kitchen during the Irish Famine and providing free education and clothing to local children as long as they converted to the Protestant faith.

However, his proselytizing activities did not make him a popular figure in the locality, and in 1850 he was attacked in his church at Templenoe.

On returning to Dromore, he found a further angry group had uprooted flower beds, felled trees and were about to set fire to the castle; it is claimed that they were only stopped by the intervention of the local Catholic priest.

After the Rev Denis Mahony’s death in 1851, the castle was inherited by his son, Richard John Mahony, who successfully ran the estate in addition to farming oyster beds in the bay.

Richard John Mahony (1828-1892)

Richard died in an accident at Killarney Railway Station and the entire region was devastated according to local reports. An obituary in the national newspaper the funeral was without exception, the the largest that has been ever seen in the county and that “it was touching to the see the universal regret for so great a Kerryman who loved the people and his native lands”.

When Richard died, the castle then passed in turn to his son, Harold Segerson Mahony. Harold was an extremely successful tennis player and was the last Irish winner at Wimbledon. His tennis court can still be found in the gardens at the Castle, however, it’s overgrown and hard to spot!

Harold Mahony of Dromore Castle, County Kerry, Ireland

It was in the late 1800s, during Harold’s time as head of the household, that Harold Boulton, best known for writing the lyrics of the Skye Boat Song, came to visit Dromore, and it is then that he is thought to have written the words to the popular song “The Castle of Dromore,” published in 1892.

The October winds lament around the castle of Dromore
Yet peace lies in her lofty halls, my loving treasure store
Though autumn leaves may droop and die, the bud of spring are you
Sing hushabye loo, low loo, low lie. Hushabye loo, low loo

Dread spirits over the of black water, Clan Owen’s wild banshee
Bring no ill wind to him nor us, my helpless babe and me
And Holy Mary pitying us to Heaven for grace doth sue
Sing hushabye loo, low loo, low lie. Hushabye loo, low loo

Take time to thrive, my ray of hope, in the gardens of Dromore
Take heed, young eaglet, till thy wings are feathered fit to soar
A little rest and then the world is full of work to do
A little rest and then the world is full of work to do

After Harold died in a bicycle accident in 1905, Dromore Castle was inherited by his sister, Norah Eveleen Mahony Hood, who, in turn, left the castle to her cousin, Hugh Bolton Waller.

The castle remained in the hands of the Waller family until 1993 when it was offered for sale. The derelict Dromore Castle is now owned by an investment company who are attempting to restore the building.

Here’s what it looks like in 2022:

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