Mongavlin Castle Article
Less than two miles from St Johnston along the River Foyle brings
you to Mongavlin Castle. This ancient building is little more than
ruins now but it still has the power to command curiosity about its
It is interesting that the Four Masters wrote Mongavlin as
Maghgaibhlin. In their Irish, it stood for the plain land of the
tiny fork river. Joyce wrote that Mongavlin should have been
Moygavlin to fit its Gaelic origin better.
The castle was built in accordance to how it was done in Scotland.
It was built by Sir John Stewart and hails from 1619.
A Scottish princess, An Inghean Dubh (that is the Black Haired
Daughter) lived in the castle. It was her chief home. She had raven
black hair which is why she was called Dubh, black in Gaeilige. She
was the wife of Lord Hugh Roe O Donnell, Lord of Tir Chonaill.
Donegal was Tir Chonaill then.
She had hailed from Scotland and was a member of the MacDonnell
clan. She chose 100 of the best soldiers she could find in Scotland
to guard her and her castle. About 80 of these men were Crawford.
A bloodcurdling murder took place at the castle in 1588 on the
orders of the vengeful Inghean Dubh. This evil was rooted in 1586
when her brother Alasdrann MacDonnell was murdered by Aodh Mac an
Deccanaigh O Gallagher. She got her revenge by having Aodh murdered
in turn at the Castle in 1588.
The famous Red Hugh O Donnell was the son of Hugh O Donnell and this
Inghean Dubh. Red Hugh was their first child but it was his father
Hugh's second marriage. There were children from this first marriage
but Inghean ensured that nothing would stand in the way of her
ambitions to make Red Hugh the apple of his father's eye and the
heir to everything.
In 1591 Domhnall who was Hugh O Donnell's son but not by Inghean
making him her stepson was slain in battle by her family and their
army. She was desperate to promote her son Red Hugh as best she
could and seems to have even resorted to spreading supernatural
prophecies about how his destiny was to succeed and become a very
powerful man. She certainly managed to keep him motivated in his
attempts to win power!
Due to clan dissension among the O Donnells, the castle fell into a
state of neglect.
After the Plantation of Ulster, the castle was owned by the Second
Earl of Abercorn.
Once there was an inscription on a stone in the wall of the castle
dedicated to the Hon Elizabeth Hamilton which dated from 1704.
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