21 October 2020

Did James II ever sleep in
Amigan Castle near Croagh
before it became a ruin?

The ruins of Amigan Castle, near Croagh, Co Limerick, off the road between Adare and Ballingarry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Patrick Comerford

In recent days I came by the ruins of Amigan Castle, near Croagh, Co Limerick, and off the road between Adare and Ballingarry.

At the beginning of the 12th century, it is said, Croagh had an Augustinian abbey and two castles in 1109.

I have visited the ruins of the abbey and church at Amigan. But I have been able to find little information about the past owners of Amigan Castle.

Colonel Thomas Walcott (1625-1683) had bought Ballyvarra Castle in 1655, and by 1667 he had settled at Croagh, Co Limerick, where he had an estate that included Amigan and that provided an income of £800 a year.

Walcott was born in Warwickshire, the fourth son of Charles Walcott and Elizabeth Games. He was a Puritan and during the English Civil War he became a colonel in Cromwell’s Parliamentary Army.

During the Cromwellian era, Walcott came to Ireland, and married Jane Blayney, daughter of Thomas Blayney, niece of Edward Blayney, 1st Baron Blayney, and grand-niece of Adam Loftus of Rathfarnham Castle, Archbishop of Dublin and first Provost of Trinity College Dublin.

Later in the 17th century, after his at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, the defeated James II stayed one night at Amigan Castle, according to Samuel Lewis. But this tradition is associated with many castles in Ireland, including the Deeps, south of Enniscorthy, on the banks of the River Slaney in Co Wexford.

Amigan Castle belonged to the Hogan family in the mid-19th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

By the mid-19th century, Amigan Castle belonged to the Hogan family. The Revd Maurice Hogan, of Amigan, Co Limerick, who died on 19 July 1848, was the Parish Priest of Croagh. Thomas Hogan of Amigan Castle, Co Limerick, who died on 17 January 1849 aged 60, was a brother of the Revd William Hogan, late of Limerick.

The castle was in ruins by the early 20th century, and the farmhouse abutting Amigan Castle was the home of the Sparling family. Today, the castle ruins are part of a working farmyard.

A small stream running through the farm is said locally to have a cure for skin diseases.

Amigan is just 1 km from Croagh village and 7 or 8 km from Adare. When this latest lockdown comes to an end and the sun is shining again, I must return and see if I can find out more about Amigan Castle and its history.

Amigan Castle was in ruins by the early 20th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

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