Benburb Castle

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Tyrone’s ‘bloody castle’

This castle has been repurposed several times in its 500-year history. Read more about the gruesome past of the Benburb Castle which is dramatically sited on the cliff edge above the River Blackwater in the grounds of Benburb Servite Priory.


Benburb Castle was built by Sir Richard Wingfield in around 1615, on or near the site of a stronghold of Shane O’Neill.

The bawn walls enclose an irregular rectangular area, the walls standing almost to full height. At the north-east and north-west corners are rectangular towers, which are more like tall houses than defensive flankers. The north-west tower has been re-roofed and restored. At the south-east end of the castle is a circular tower with a stair down to a postern gate at the cliff edge. The 19th century house in the bawn is privately occupied and not accessible.

In 1641 Benburb Castle was taken by Phelim O’Neill who had all the occupants slaughtered. In 1646 it was occupied by Owen Roe O’Neill before he decisively defeated the English army, led by General Monro, at the Battle of Benburb nearby. The castle was dismantled soon afterwards and has remained a ruin ever since.

In the second part of the 19th century the Bruce family built the large manor house north east of the castle and a cottage was built inside the castle walls.

In the 1940’s American troops used the manor house as a hospital and the towers of the castle were altered to allow watchmen on the roofs.