Ross Castle

The words of Violet Martin

Ross Castle on the shore of Ross Lake with Croagh Keenan in the distance
Expansive grounds of Ross Castle
Drawing Room
Dining Room

Excerpt from ‘Irish Memories: The Martins of Ross’ by Violet Florence Martin, 1917:

“Ross, the first outpost, nurse of many generations of Martins, still stands by its lake and looks across it to its old neighbour, the brown mountain, Croagh Keenan…

It was during the life of Nicholas, my great-grand-father, that Ross House was burned down; with much loss, it is believed, of plate and pictures; it had a tower, and stood beautifully on a point in the lake. He replaced it by the present house, built about the year 1777, whose architecture is not aesthetically to his credit; it is a tall, unlovely block, of great solidity, with kitchen premises half underground, and the whole surrounded by a wide and deep area. It suggests the idea of defence, which was probably not absent from the builder’s mind, yet the Rebellion of twenty years later did not put it to the test. In the great storm of 1839, still known as ” The Big Wind,” my grandfather gathered the whole household into the kitchen for safety, and, looking up at its heavily-vaulted ceiling, said that if Ross fell, not a house in Ireland would stand that night. Many fell, but Ross House stood the assault, even though the lawn was white with the spray borne in from the Atlantic, six miles away. It has at least two fine rooms, a lofty well-staircase, with balusters of mahogany, taken out of a wreck, and it takes all day the sun into its heart, looking west and south, with tall windows, over lake and mountain. It is said that a man is never in love till he is in love with a plain woman, and in spite of draughts, of exhausting flights of stairs, of chimneys that are the despair of sweeps, it has held the affection of five generations of Martins.

A dark limestone slab, over the dining-room chimney-piece, bears the coat of arms – ‘a Calvary Cross, between the Sun in splendour on the dexter limb, and the Moon in crescent on the sinister of the second’ – to quote the official description. The crest is a six-pointed star, and the motto, ‘Sic itur ad astra’, connects with the single-minded simplicity of the Crusader, the Cross of our faith with the Star of our hope. In the book of pedigrees at Dublin Castle it is stated that the arms were given by Richard Coeur de Lion to Oliver Martin, in the Holy Land; a further family tradition says that Oliver Martin shared Richard’s captivity in Austria. The stone on which the arms are carved came originally from an old house in Galway; it has the name of Robuck Martin below, and the date 1649 above. It is one of several now lying at Ross, resembling the lintels of doorways, and engraved with the arms of various Martins and their wives.”

This page was added on 22/01/2013.

Comments about this page

  • I knew mr Chevasse his wife and daughter.

    By M Quinn (24/06/2023)
  • I would like more information about the O’Hallorans. John O’Halloran could you contact me? I’m in USA. My family originated near Galway.

    By Paula Holloran Kennedy (19/06/2019)
  • Death: Freeman’s Journal of March 3rd 1769 – Page 2, reported the death of “Mrs Martin, wife of James, of Ross, County Galway, Esq”;

    The same paper of December 19th 1772 – Page 2 – reported the following: Married: “A few days ago, James Martin, Esq, of Ross in the Co. Galway, to Miss Susanna Busted of Bandon.”

    The name “Busted/Busteed” is peculiar to County Cork where it has been since the first half of the seventeenth century. Origin unknown. Source: Edward MacLysaght – The Surnames of Ireland.


    Jim Fahy
    November 23rd 2015

    By Jim Fahy (23/11/2015)
  • Death – Freeman’s Journal dated March 3rd 1769 – page 2 – reported the death of – Mrs Martin, wife of James Martin, Ross, County Galway, Esq

    By Jim Fahy (24/10/2015)
  • I would like more information on shevasse family who lived in Ross castle

    By Padraic Welby (16/07/2015)
  • “The next parish of Gnomore is Kilanhin parish; but Kilanhin parish church is in Gnobeg where the memory of St. Anhin, V., is celebrated on the 18th January; and where her well is frequented on the north-east brink of Lough Lonan. This lake lies between Gnomore and Gnobeg, on an island wherof is the castle of Ohery; and where there is no recourse of water from it, but under ground.” In A.D. 1585 it belonged to Jonick O’Halorane. In the same year “Teige M’Fynnine O’Halloran of Ohayry, aged seventy years. deposed that he was driven out of his castles and lands by his kinsman Moroghe ne doo (O’Flaherty), since which time he dwelt in Clanrickard.” – Org. Record: Rolls Office MacFirbis ib his book of Irish Genealogy, gives the pedigree of the O’Halloran family for twenty-five generations, as follows: Eochy Moyvane A.D., father of Brian etc. Excerpts from West or h-Iar Connaught by Roderick O’Flaherty – 1829 – 1718 – late of Moycullen Castle. Edited by James Hardiman of Galway and published in 1846. Apparently the O’Hallorans were driven from their territory East of Galway city in the 13th century by the Burke’s. They moved to the area of Moycullen where they built a castle on a small island in Lough Lonan. They were dispossed of their castle and lands by Morogh ne doe O’Flaherty, who by now had been knighted by Elizabeth 1 (October 20th 1569) and was Lord over Gnomore and Gnobeg. The property was sold by O’Flaherty to Robert Martin of Galway in 1592. The land surveyors recorded the castle to be in ruins in September 1835. Lough Lonan, now known as “Ross Lake”, drains into Lough Corrib via limestone caverns. Local folklore is that the Martins’ restricted the flow of water by placing stones at the entrance. This was to maintain the water level at the western end adjacent to Ross House. This action resulted in flooding on parts of neighbouring townlands in winter when the rain water came off the nearby mountains. Jim Fahy December 10th 2013

    By Jim Fahy (10/12/2013)
  • Hi, I would just like to make a brief comment on Ross House, during the early part of the 1920’s the house was sold to Cluade Chavasse by the Martin, an Irish language enthusiast, it would nice to make some reference to the chavasse family, who, to my knowledge were well known in oughterard and Galway. I would appreciate some your thoughts on this. if you would like some more information about the family, I would be glad to assist. Regards, John O’ Halloran

    By John O' Halloran (07/12/2013)

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