Granard Motte

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Granard Motte

County Longford

Granard Motte.jpg
Grid reference: N32988076
Location: 53°46’32"N, 7°30’2"W
Village: Granard
Built 1199
Condition: Motte only remaiing

Granard Motte is the mound which is all that remains visible of a motte-and-bailey castle in Granard, County Longford.


Granard Motte is to be found in Granard village, at the southwest edge of Granard town, three and a half miles west of Lough Kinale, overlooking the valley of the River Inny. At an altitude of 535 feet, it is the highest motte in Ireland, its elevated site providing panoramic views over the surrounding countryside.


Granard motte earthworks were built c. 1199 by a Norman knight, Richard de Tuit. It was erected upon and within a pre-existing hillfort, and has associations with a local branch of the Ó Fearghail clan (Farrell).[1]

It appears that the castle was intended as a frontier castle on the north-west border of the Anglo-Norman lordship of Meath and designed to hold down the O'Reilly's of southern Breffny.[2] In 1210 King John stayed here during his campaign against Hugh de Lacy.[2][1]

The site later became known as 'Rath Granard'. According to Bradley, it is the most likely location of the inauguration site of the O'Farrells (Bán).[1][3] One prominent member of the family, Sean Ó Fearghail, Chief of Annaly, is believed to have died here immediately after his inauguration in 1475 and was interred at Abbeylara nearby.

The relatively level summit (89 feet) in the north-northwest-south-southeast direction; 72 feet in the east-northeast-west-southwest direction), is about 13 feet above the level of the bailey. An OS trig pillar stand on the top. In 1932 a statue of St Patrick was erected on top of the motte to mark the sesquimillennium of his mission to Ireland.

Many myths are attached to the hollow within the motte: some say there is a castle concealed within it, or gold, or perhaps a grain store. In May 2017 the motte came to nationwide attention when a large hole, about a yard in diameter, was found dug into the side of the mound. The damage required a survey by the National Monuments Service and repairs by the Office of Public Works.[4]


The Motte is a great flat-topped, circular earthen mound, on top of which would have been a timber tower surrounded by a palisade. Across the base was a U-shaped bailey: an enclosure surrounded by a palisade ditch. It is very strongly fortified except on the southern side, which seems to have been guarded solely by the deep trench on the summit. The sub circular mound is about 30 feet in height with a deep fosse at the northeastern side and a D-shaped bailey on the southwest side.

A grotto was built into the north side of the monument in 1925 in the course of which a large quantity of stone was removed (using explosives). From WSW-N-ENE the base of the motte is encircled by a wide, deep, steep-sided, rock-cut fosse (width: 34 feet; depth: 11 feet with a wide, high, steep-sided external bank (width: 26 feet; height: 10 feet). The bailey is defined by the remains of an inner bank of earth and stone, a wide, deep, intervening fosse (width: 39 feet) and a wide, high outer bank (width: c. 33 feet; height: c. 7 feet). The fragmentary remains of a later castle are visible in the SE face of the motte.

A mediæval church and graveyard are found about a hundred yards to the north.[5][6][7][8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Bradley, J.; Halpin, A.; King, H. (1985). Urban archaeological survey - county Longford. Unpublished report commissioned by the Office of Public Works, Dublin. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Orpen, G.H. (1920). Ireland under the Normans (1169-1216). Oxford: Clarendon. 
  3. Fitzpatrick, E. (2004). Royal inauguration in Gaelic Ireland c.1100-1600: a cultural landscape study. Studies in Celtic History. 22. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press. 
  4. "Investigation into damage at Granard Motte monument site". RTE. 6 Jun 2017. 
  5. Westropp, T.J. (1904). "On Irish motes and early Norman castles". Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 34: 313-343. 
  6. Kearney, P. (1969). "Granard". Journal of the Longford Historical Society 1 (1): 18-23. 
  7. O'Donovan, P., ed (2003). Antiquities of the Granard area. Longford: Granard Area Action Group. 
  8. Burns, J.; Grier, B., eds (2002). Granard: its history, our heritage. Longford: Granard Guild, ICA. pp. 144-145. 


  • Armitage, E.S. (1912). The early Norman castles of the British Isles. London.