Castle Connor History — O’Connor Sligo

Castleconnor on the N59, if one is leaving Ballina, Mayo, Head North on the N59 which slumbers N.East,  one will then come upon CastleConnor.

Getting to the area is easy thank’s to Ireland’s  Knock West Airport with both Domestic and International Flights – Mon. James Horan who first established the Airport in a Irish Field,  and today it is the gateway for North West Ireland, and the Knock Shrine is also nearby and should not be missed and it is large enough to accommodate 10,000 people, so you will get a seat!


Continuing one comes to Corbally, then Culleens, then Dromore West, Templeboy, Skreen, Dromard, Ballysdare. For anyone with Ancestors in Sligo, this would be considered West Sligo and North Mayo and is where many of the pre-1890 records are located.

Returning to our Subject in this Page, CastleConnor, like the entire area, is ancient and modern History can tell Us much of the past History that was recorded, but the unrecorded is lost to History for the most part. One could probably spend a lifetime digging into it and many have done so to bring us what We know today including the Norman Invasion of Ireland.


The original – Castle Connor – (as it is now called) was reputed to be built by Piers de Birmingham  (de Bermingham), part of the Norman Invasion.

The Norman invasion was a watershed moment in the history of Ireland – marking the beginning of more than 700 years of direct English and, later, British involvement in Ireland and the Plantation of Ireland with the Protestant Ascendency. It spelled doom for Native Ireland’s land and Aristocracy, and slowly they were dispossessed.

In this case, de Bermingham disposed the O’Dowd’s, who were the sitting Chieftains’ of this area at the time Ireland was a grouping of small kingdoms, essentially. Then the Normans came in different stages.

The O’Dowd’s were weakened by the presence of the Normans, StrongBow, initally, then in later stages during the late 12th century the O’Dowd’s aligned themselves with the O’Connor Sligo.

This alignment allowed the O Dowd’s to employ their own Mercenaries provided they remained loyal to O’Connors. In 1371 O Dowd’s & O’Connors retook Tireagh and Ardnaree. O Dowd’s occupied Ardnaree Castle and O’Connors retained the land for lease known as Castleconnor. Hence the name “Castle Connor” -However, there was no mention of Castleconnor from the date of this take over until the 16th Century, which suggests that it was then in ruins. The Sligo O’Connors, were military and probably saw, given the tactics of the time, the Castle as a stronghold for a potential enemy invasion. In 1520 Conor O’ Dowd built a new castle on the same site as the original — and is assumed to be the ruins seen today from the original Anglo Norman castle. The fact that Conor O Dowd built a castle in more recent times this is the origin of Castle Conor.

History and Maps would show that the name Castleconnor  200 years prior to Conor O’ Dowd’s Castle and was most probably named after O’Connors of Sligo the overlords of Tireagh.

Today, as one drives along the “Coast Road”
from Ballina, Mayo, towards Enniscrone, Mayo, one passes Killanley Church, an imposing remains of a “raths” {Rathmulcah} or Rathmurphy,  Sligo, and a “rath” stands on the left-hand side between the road and the Moy River, and is an archaeological site of the remains that has been in existence from around 700-800 A.D. or earlier. It is well worth a visit from anyone in the area interested in Irish History.