History of Knappogue Castle

The castle has over five troubled but colourful centuries of Irish history. Find out what prompted Sean MacCon Namara to build it in 1467, and what, five hundred years later, inspired the Andrews family of Houston, Texas to breath life back into the then ruined building.

Knappogue Castle was built in 1467 by Sean MacNamara, and is a magnificent example of a medieval tower house. It has a long and varied history from a battle field to a dwelling place.  In 1571 the Castle became the seat of the MacNamara Clan, Earls of West Clancullen.

Donagh MacNamara was a leader of the 1641 rebellion and  Knappogue remained in MacNamara hands until 1659 when it was confiscated by Cromwell’s parliament and granted to a ‘Roundhead’, Arthur Smith.  However after the monarchy was restored in 1670 Knappogue was returned to its MacNamara owners.

The MacNamara Clan sold the castle to the Scotts in 1800 and they carried out major restoration and extension work. In 1855, it was acquired by Lord Dunboyne who continued the restoration work. In the early 20th century it served as the headquarters of General Michael Brennan and Irish Free State Army in Ireland's fight for freedom.

Restoration of Knappogue Castle

In the 1920's Knappogue passed into the hands of a local farmer and fell into disrepair. It was purchased in 1966 by the Hon. Mark Edwin Andrews of Houston Texas. He and his wife (a prominent American architect), in collaboration with Shannon Development, carried out an extensive and sensitive restoration returning the Castle to its former 15th Century glory while encompassing and retaining later additions which are a testament to the continuous occupation of the Castle. Since then it has been the host to two Irish presidents, as well as other heads of state, including General de Gaulle.

The Andrews were the last occupants of the Castle. Shannon Development purchased the Castle in 1996 with the intention of preserving this important building for future generations.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about the History of Knappogue perhaps you might like to learn about Knappogue Castle Medieval Banquet or Castle Weddings.