Ballagharahin, Tower House, Co. Laois.

Location – South of Errill off the R433 in the townland of Ballagharahin. You can’t miss it as it is on the side of the road.
OS: S 224 766 (map 60)
Longitude: 7° 40' 3.18" W
Latitude: 52° 50' 23.76" N
See map at the bottom of the page.

Description and History – No date is given for this castle but a rough guess based on other examples would be 15th or 16th century. With a slight batter and dressed quoins this is, externally at least, a fine example of a tower house. It is not the largest of examples but one which carries all the standard features including a machicolation outside and murder-holes inside. The main entrance is damaged as is the second entrance and no floors remain. There does remain a cross shaped gun-loop by the entrance on the inside which is unusual as well as ten carved sun-dials on the steps of the spiral staircase. The spiral staircase still reaches to the top of the tower where there are good views of the chimneys. Fireplaces are visible on the second and third floors of this five storey high building and some of the mural passages are intact but unreachable due to the collapse of the main floors and passages leading off the staircase. Little is known about this castle except that is belonged to the Fitzpatricks.

Difficulty – This is an easy castle to find and is located to the left of a farmhouse in a well drained field. The field, on my visit, contained horses which are much easier than cattle to deal with. Ask permission from the farmhouse and they shouldn’t mind you going in. Inside the castle there is a fair amount of rubble so mind your footing. The views from the top of the staircase are worthwhile but be careful when ascending as along the way there a couple of steps missing and a couple of places where there is nothing to grip with your hands. You don’t want to lose your footing here so be careful and don’t go up unless you are fine with heights.

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There are some breaches in the walls which have significantly weakened the structure. The castle needs conservation work or it is in danger of further collapse.

The machicolations and bartizans are in good condition. 

The machicolation on this side is breached significantly. The loops and doorway remain in good condition. 

This wall had three significant breaches.

Awful picture but at least you can see the gun loop.

Spying the horses through the yett-hole

It's completely gutted inside.

Some steps are missing and some are cracked and holding on for dear life. I was a little nervous heading up these steps. There are sundials carved onto some of the steps. 

This passage must have only collapsed in recent years because there is graffiti on the opposite wall and no way to get there.

Looking out through one of the small breaches. 

That chimney doesn't look too stable does it?

Not venturing any further out!

Date of visit: 2nd August, 2009.

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