06 August 2019

Kilduff Castle: ruins
that led to a duel
and a murder trial

Kilduff Castle on the southern outskirts of New Pallasgreen, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

The ruins of Kilduff Castle form a striking presence on the road into Pallasgreen, Co Limerick. The castle is on the southern outskirts of New Pallasgreen, just off the main N24 road between Limerick and Tipperary.

The castle was built around 1550 by the MacBrien family. When in 1583 Moriery Mergagh MacBrien met his death in 1583 during the Desmond rebellion, he had been living at Kilduff Castle.

Kilduff Castle was held from 1617 until the 1650s by the Hurley or O’Hurley family.

The MPs for Kilmallock in the Irish parliaments of 1585 and 1689 were members of the branch of O’Hurley family that lived Knocklong Castle.

Sir Maurice O’Hurley of Kilduff Castle was prominent in the activities of the Confederate Catholics in 1646. As a result, Sir Maurice O’Hurley and his mother, Dame Lettice Hurley, were transplanted from Kilduff, Co Limerick, to Connaught, where he received 3,500 acres.

After the Cromwellian settlement, Kilduff Castle passed to the trustees of Erasmus Smith charity schools in 1667, and their tenants included the Apjohn family.

Sir Maurice Hurley seems to have regained Kilduff Castle during the Jacobite administration (1685-1690), and in his will, he left his estate, including Kilduff Castle, to his son William. But the castle was probably ruined during the Williamite Wars in the 1680s and 1690s.

The Hurley and Apjohn family contested the ownership of Kilduff Castle into the early 18th century, resulting in a duel in which William Hurley was killed, leading to William Apjohn’s murder trial.

Which may help to explain why Kilduff Castle was never restored or rebuilt, and was left to crumble and decay.

The circular bartizan on pyramidal corbels at the north-west corner of Kilduff Castle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The west and south walls of the tower stand to full height, but the other two walls have collapsed completely, and no floors remain. As many as four storeys are visible as well as the attic, some of the windows in the gables and some of the chimney stacks.

Some fireplaces and garderobes are still visible, as is the circular bartizan on pyramidal corbels at the north-west corner.

The castle ruins are in a perilous state today and are fenced off. But the best view of the castle is found in the car park at the neighbouring Saint Anthony’s Nursing Home.

Kilduff Castle is in a perilous state and the ruins are fenced off (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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