Pallas Castle ~ Tynagh
Possibly the best-preserved tower-house in a county which has many well-preserved examples.
The tower is 5 storeys high, with the third storey vaulted. Beside having a guard's room, and a 'dog's hole', the ground floor has an oven which was added later.
There are a number of good fireplaces preserved on the various floors, with ahead on that of the first floor. The fourth floor has attractive mullioned windows framed in arches. The tower if surrounded by an extremely well-preserved bawn, which was entered by a two-storey gatehouse. The bawn has two towers with turrets at each corner, and has internal steps and parapets.
On the west side of the bawn is a house which was built as part of the bawn, and which had its own entrance through the bawn wall. Some buildings in the south-west corner probably date from the 19th century. The castle was built by the Burkes, possibly around 1500. In 1574 it was in the hands of Jonyck Fitzthomas Burke, but after the restoration it passed to the Nugent family, Lords of Westmeath.
Brief History of Pallas Castle
The Normans, (The De Burgos), crossed the Shannon in 1236 and conquered much of Hymany, (Ui Máine), from the O’Cheallaighs, the O’Maddens and the O’Shaughnessys.
William De Burgo built his main stronghold in Loughrea, where he had the mountains and lake at his back. He gave the land in Tynagh to his son Richard, who built the Keep at Pallas.
The Keep was a military stronghold, inside which the Normans were protected while the visible and exposed Gaelic Irish tried to re-capture their lands. Like all such Norman structures, Pallas Keep was built on a height and was protected by a ditch and drawbridge.
The protective walls and look-out towers are in as good a condition today as when they were built over 500 years ago.
The Keep itself is five or six stories high with a spiral staircase from storey to storey and battlements on the roof.
The De Burgos held on to their lands in Tynagh until Cromwellian times (1649). Under Cromwell’s “to hell or to Connacht” order, the lands at Pallas were given to the Nugents of Westmeath whose titles were the Earls of Westmeath. The De Burgo stronghold had, by now, moved to Portumna.
A mansion was built at Pallas to house the Westmeaths. It was one of the finest in the land and was demolished (regretfully many would say) in the 1930s after the fall of Landlordism.
Meanwhile, after Cromwell was beheaded in the Tower of London, their lands in Westmeath were restored to the Nugents and the main branch of the family moved back there, taking the title with them.
Pallas was left in the hands of a lesser branch of the family, who assumed the title Earls of Riverston.
It was one of the Lord Riverstons who granted the site for the first National School in Tynagh, which was completed in 1845. The limestone for the building was quarried across the road in the Earl’s land and the building is still admired for its cut-stone façade.
When the Nugent family in Westmeath died out, the title again reverted to Tynagh.
The Nugents were Catholics and a special coach house for their use, was erected to the rear of the old Catholic church.
Pallas Keep is one of the best persevered in the country and this thanks to the Earls who over the years took a keen interest in its preservation.
Pallas Castle is one of the best preserved tower houses in Ireland. Commonly called castles, these tower houses were not military structures but really a type of fortified house which became fashionable among the Irish and Anglo Irish in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
The bawn also has two towers , steps and a wall walk around the inside. Several of the dwellings here are from the nineteenth century.