Fahy in Ballycroy in Co. Mayo

Fahy, which means a playing field, was probably attached to the castle.

It contains 270 acres and the householders during the Griffith valuation were John Daly, Patrick Canning, Peter Barrett, Thomas Conway, Michael McManamon, William Madden, Edmond Campbell. James Conway had land there.

The area of the graveyard then was 16 perches - it has been extended twice since. One high gable and some side walls are all that remains of the castle, which one notices, was built on a vantage point with a panoramic view of Blacksod Bay, obviously for security and defence reasons.

Although commonly called Grainne Uaile's castle because of her association with it during her tempestuous life, most people consider it to be much older and there are many surmises as to when or by whom it was built.

Some say that it was constructed by a Tuatha De Danann magician in a very short space of time but that is highly unlikely. Other sources name its builder as Gol McMorna, a great rival of Fionn MacCumhaill, and others still assert that its erector was Maebh, daughter of Eochaidh, King of Connacht, who engaged in war against King Conor of Ulster. He, in turn, is reputed to have handed the castle to Phelim, a great Ollamh or professor in those days, while he, himself, retired to the King's palace in Cruachán, Roscommon.

Other writers state that it was built by Donall Duall Bhui, who lived at the time of Christ and was of the Damnonian tribe who ruled Erris, and also known as Daman, father of Ferdia, Tain Bo Cuachan, here, who fought Cuchullan. His wife, Muinchin, who, it is said, lived in the castle, was later drowned outside Bangor - near the river of the same name and is said to be the heroine of Maxwell's 'Dark Lady of Doona'.

When the Armada vessel, 'La Rata Encondorada', went aground nearby, its 600 soldiers and crew, under Captain De Leyva, sheltered there before proceeding to Erris. It can be said that not one of these survivors was killed or injured during their stay in Ballycroy - unlike the cruel fate they met in other parts when all who survived the raging sea were cruelly murdered on coming ashore.

In Elizabethian times this castle was the residence of Brian Riabhach O Ceallaigh, who was married to one of the Barretts.

A family named McMahon also lived there for a term and it was also a place of imprisonment for Grainne Uaile's son, Toby of the Ships. Later on it passed to the Conway family and then to the Daly family who are the present owners.

It was badly destroyed by fire in 1815 and thus began the decline to its present state.

Nearby there is an old Abbey, which was probably associated with the castle. Again its age or origin is not certain but most likely it was some kind of settlement - serving the needs of this particular area and parts of Achill and Erris, which were accesible by boat; that being the only means of transport there at the time.

It is built in the Gothic style, 50' by 20' two doors facing each other, one in the North side and the other in the South. There are also two windows which were added later, as well as a raised portion which was probably used as some kind of balcony. The inside is converted with flagstones; family graves and the floor level at the moment is raised to a considerable height - thus making the doorway entrance much lower than they were originally.

It has recently been repaired and, apart from being roofless, is in quite good condition. On the side of the present road leading to the graveyard there is the foundation of a three-roomed school measuring approx. 60' by 25'. The particular field is still called the school field, and probably was in use before the opening of Drumslide in the next townland. Fr. Gilvarry, it is said, performed many marriages there - it being convenient to the big population then in that part of the parish.

written by Martin Costello, NT