Parkes Castle is a restored plantation castle which dates back to the early 17th century, located on the shores of Lough Gill, outside Dromahair village in county Leitrim.
It is located on the site of the Irish chieftain Brian O’Rourke’s 16th century tower house, Brian O’Rourke had helped the Spanish Armada troops who had survived the sinking of their ships in storms off the coast of Streedagh in county Sligo, which angered Queen Elizabeth I, who ordered his land and castle be confiscated, O’Rourke went on the run and was eventually caught and executed at Tyburn, London in 1591.
O’Rourke’s lands were given to the Cromwellian soldier Robert Parke, who built the castle you can see today, Captain Robert Parkes lived here with his wife and children, they later abandoned the castle and moved to the safer location of Sligo town. There was a local rumour that the Parkes children died in a drowning accident on Lough Gill, although there is no evidence for this, only that Captain Parkes, Will did not include them. The Parkes descendants were the Gore-Booths of Lissadell house. By the 1980’s the castle was a shell and lay in ruins and the home to cattle, the Office of Public Works excavated the site and gained valuable information by the castle’s history and restored the castle, training apprentices in traditional craftmenship and using Irish Oak.
We visited over heritage week and spent an hour here, there is a short video and we took the guided tour, which was excellent.
They also have a permanent exhibition called Vernacular architecture in Ireland, about Irish cottages which was very interesting and they have recreated an Irish cottage within the castle.
Location: On the Sligo – Dromahair Road (R286), 11 Km from Sligo town or 7 Km from Dromahair, Leitrim.
From Sligo town, you can also take the Rose of Innisfree boat cruise from the Back Avenue in Sligo town which travels up Lough Gill and docks at Parkes Castle.
For Parkes Castle, opening dates and times, check out the Heritage Ireland website.