The castle was a stronghold of the O’Fflahertie clan between the 14th and 17th centuries who ruled over of Iar Connacht. Walter De Burgo, first Earl of Ulster, may have built the original castle on the site. In 1256 AD De Burgo marched against O’Fflahertie and took possession of Lough Corrib, its islands and its castles. While the town of Galway continued to flourish under the powerful protection of the De Burgos, the expulsion of the O’Fflaherties was only temporary and before the close of the 13th century and for three succeeding centuries they became masters of the entire territory of Iar Connacht, extending from the west bank of Lough Corrib to the sea. The legendary Granunaile, Grace O’Malley at the age of 16 married Donal an Chogaidh O Fflahertie, thus amalgamating these two powerful seafaring clans in the middle of the 16th century.
On the 11th of July 1537, Lord Grey, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, representing Henry VIII, arrived in Galway. His objective was to get the Irish clans to acknowledge the supremacy of HenryVIII. O’Fflahertie, O’Madden, and Mac Feorais (Bermingham) made their submissions in Galway but they did not hand over hostages. This policy was known as “Surrender and re-grant”.
Morogh of the Battle Axes
Towards the end of the 16th century the English authorities were beginning to take notice of the inhabitants of Iar Connacht. Morogh na dTuadh, ( Morogh of the battle axes), O Fflahertie was making frequent raids on English territory and their possessions in the vicinity of Lough Corrib. In 1564 at Trabane (The White Strand), he decisively defeated the English force sent against him. In 1569 he was offered a free and general pardon for all his offences and was appointed by the Queen Elizabeth 1 to the chieftainship of the whole country of Iar Connacht. He was given this honour even though he was not a member of the senior branch of the O Fflahertie clan. In return for the honour granted to him Morogh undertook to “Observe the Queen’s peace”.
Sir Edward Fitton
Donal an Chogaidh, the legitimate chieftain and most of the O Fflahertie clan became incensed with Morogh for submitting to the Queen of England. Together with the sons of Clanrickarde they planed an open rebellion against “an cailleach granda” as they commonly referred to the Queen. Morogh learned of their plans and communicated them to the president of the province, Sir Edward Fitton. Immediately he gathered his force and laid siege to Aughnanure Castle, held by the legitimate chieftain. Sir Edward ‘s forces conquered the castle. Though defended by muskets, the castle was no match for the artillery used, as its defences were not designed to resist such weapons. Sir Edward presented the castle to Morogh in 1572. He fortified the castle giving it the form it has to day, and made it his principle residence. He died in 1593 but by this time he had lost his influence over the native clans. His son Rory succeeded him.
The most distinguished of the descendants of Morogh was Colonel Morogh O Fflahertie, also nicknamed “na dTuadh ”, who played a determined part on the side of the Irish in the turmoil of the 17th century. In 1618 Aughnanure was granted to Hugh O Fflahertie by King James1 but, by the middle of that century, it was occupied by the Marquis of Clanrickarde. The Marquis wrote a number of letters in his campaign against the invading Cromwellian forces at the time.
Lord St. George
In 1687 he rented the lands to Bryan O’Fflahertie for an annual rent of £76. In 1719 he sold the lands for £1600. The money was borrowed from Lord St. George. That mortgage was afterwards foreclosed, and Lord St.George took possession of the castle. In the 19th century the castle was once again the property of Edmund O’Fflahertie of Lemonfield. The Martins owned the rest of the lands.
In 1952, Peter O’Fflahertie had the castle vested in the Commissions of Public Works for preservation as a national monument. 1963, the site was cleared and the walls and buildings were repaired and restored. A public path leading to the castle and a car park was also opened at a later date.