Donomona Castle has played a central part in the history of the Clogher area of County Mayo and was originally a Bourke stronghold. In the early 15th century the O Kellys of Ui Maine occupied it. It must have been sold back to the Bourkes in the mid-15th century as in 1574 Richard Mac Davy Mac Parson (Bourke) is listed as the owner.
The Indenture of Composition of Mayo was ratified by Sir Richard Bingham. It was here also that most of the chieftains of Mayo submitted to his authority in 1588. William Bourke who was known as the Blind Abbott and Justin Mc Donnell chief of the Clandonnell Gallowglass were among the first to submit.
Bingham later hanged Justin one year later for his part in sheltering Spaniards who were shipwrecked off Ballycroy, on Ireland's western shore.
The large hole at the top of the remaining wall is due to cannon ball fire by the French to the British around 1798.
In O Donovans Letters of 1838 the following account is given:
“In this parish stands in ruins the castles of Doonamona (Dun Na Mona) and Gwesdian,(pronounced Gweeshadan) which we find recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters at the year AD 1592, as having, together with other castles, been taken possession of the governor Sir Richard Bingham.”
The account runs in these words:
“Those Bourkes who were leagued with the Mac Williams aided by all their adherents, took up arms to defend themselves, of which the governor, Sir Richard Bingham, had no sooner heard,than he proceeded into the County of Mayo and took possession of all the towns, whether uninjured or ruined, that were in the country, namely, Dun Na Mona, Cuil Na gCaiseal, Gaoisdeach and Cluainin. The Bourkes however made an attack upon the Governor at Cuil na gCaiseal, but they sustained more injury on this occasion than they were able to inflict upon him.”
O Donovan’s Letters:
One of the last to submit to the might of Bingham was Edmond De Burgo of Castlebar, “Eamonn na Feasoige”, but he was later made an example of and was executed following a trumped up charge of treason at a mock trial that took place at Donomona. Bingham then confiscated the castle and estate at Castlebar.
By Brian Hoban updated by Heather and Corine Kelly October 2005.