Ballymoon Castle has long been viewed as unique among Irish castles. Its location, layout, and features do not appear to be suited to the times in which it was built. Who built it and why is unknown. Whether it was finished or not remains a discussion point.

The view of it being unfinished is very misleading in how we interpret the castle over time, the part it played in the Liberty of Carlow and beyond, and its influence on the lives of those in the region around it. Moreover, this view stifles research into the actual story of Ballymoon Castle.

We need to strongly reconsider seeing Ballymoon as a large unfinished masonry castle sitting idly in an isolated farmland setting. Instead, it was a valuable and important resource utilized for 300 or more years following its construction.

The Ballymoon Castle Research Project was set up to try to fill in some of our knowledge gaps. To this end, it is recognized that the castle itself has been thoroughly interpreted by several of the eminent experts on medieval castles in Ireland. Instead, the immediate surroundings of the castle may offer us more information. Recently, two geophysical surveys were conducted around the castle. The results of these show that the castle was the focus of at least two phases of activity.

Nial O’Neill is a graduate of a BA in Archaeology at NUI Galway. Nial has worked professionally in archaeology for 20 years and has conducted many archaeological excavations throughout Ireland. Nial is a committee member of the Carlow Archaeological and Historical Society and worked with Pat O’Neill and Deirdre Kearney on the Ballon Hill Archaeology Project. Ballymoon Castle has been Nial’s research focus since 2018.

Nial’s talk on Ballymoon takes place on Weds 18 October 20223 in Leighlinbridge Community Centre.

Admission is free and all are welcome

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