History of Ancient Brize Castle, Claremorris in Co. Mayo

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Brize Castle or Bree Castle is nested on a top of a gentle hill (bree or bri in Irish Gaelic) between Claremorris and Balla.

It was built by Gerald Mc Maurice, the younger son of Maurice de Prenderghast, who accompanied Richard Strongbow in the Anglo/Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169 and was rewarded with lands in Ireland in Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary, Mayo and Wicklow.

Nowdays it is a ruined castle, but, in the past, it was the main residence of the Prendergasts from the 13th century onwards. From here this family, also known as " Clann Muiris na mBri" ( The Clann Morris of Bree.), spread a strong power throughout the district. Both the town of Claremorris, ( Clann Morris) and the barony name Clanmorris, takes their name from them.

During the Middle Ages the Prenderghasts were subdivided into two main offshoots: the Mac Muris or Mac Morris (meaning son of Morris) and the Mac Garailts or Mac Garretts.

A list, written in 1572, of chief men and their castles in Connacht suggests Bree Castle belonged to Walter Oge MacMoris of Nebry. Walter was called ‘Oge’ (young in Irish Gaelic) and this shows how the Anglo-Norman families were well integrated with the Irish society and culture.

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