Ballymote CastleApprox. Time: 2 hours
Activity Level: Easiest

Ballymote is located south of Sligo town and is the second largest town in the county. It takes its name from an old moat that was to be found just outside of the town. The town grew around the castle which was built by Richard de Burgo in 1300. Ballymote Castle lies about 24 miles south of Sligo and is probably one of the strongest castles in Connaught.

The existing ruins of the castle indicate its strength as a fortress. It has a twin-towered gatehouse; large courtyard and the ten-foot thick-tunnelled walls on top of which were six imposing towers. It passed between the hands of the O'Connors, the Taffes and the MacDonaghs until it was laid to waste during the Williamite War of 1689-91.

In 1601 Red Hugh O'Donnell assembled his men here on his way to the battle of Kinsale in County Cork. The Book of Ballymote was compiled in the castle from 1390, under the patronage of Tomoltagh MacDonagh of Ballymote and gives the key to Ogham inscriptions, the ancient Irish system of linear writing found on many standing stones throughout Ireland.