Loughmoe Castle

Observant rail travellers bound for Dublin will be familiar with Loughmoe Castle, which stands out of the trackside pastureland just before Templemore station. The Castle comprises of a 15th Century tower house, which was extensively added to in the 17th Century. The Castle was home to the Purcells, Barons of Loughmoe, and, like Ormond Castle in Carrick on Suir, it is remarkable for its apparent lack of defensive features.

Architectural Characteristics

The Castle is four storeys high in the middle block, with an attic and semi basement, while the towers at either end climb to five storeys. It is probable that the roof would have had dormer windows that illuminated the top rooms. There are many mullioned windows, each containing six, eight or twelve panels The Castle also houses some fine, large fireplaces, and the most ornate and interesting of these can be seen on the first floor of the old tower. It has a moulded stone frame with leaf-work carving and two shields at each end. Two of these are unfortunately defaced, but the other two depict the arms of the Purcells' and the Butlers', these two very influential families having inter-married on several occasions.

"The Field of the Reward"

Loughmoe Castle, and the village near it, is today incorrectly referred to as Loughmore (The Big Lake), but the Irish translation of the area is Luach Mhagh, meaning "the field of the reward", and it alludes to the manner in which the Purcells first gained proprietorship of area. Many years ago there lived a king in Loughmoe Castle, and the densely wooded land around it was terrorised by a boar and sow of "gigantic size", who uprooted crops and killed whoever they came into contact with.

The Purcell Legend

To rid the countryside of these beasts, the king offered their slayer the hand of his daughter, the Castle at Loughmoe and vast lands around it. After all of the other hunters had tried and failed, a youth called Purcell sought permission to stalk the beasts. He made his way through the nearby forest by leaping from branch to branch, until he finally reached the spot where the creatures lay. With his bow he peppered them with arrows from above, but to no avail, until, at last, two of his shots went into the mouths of beasts, who fled in pain and terror. They were later found dead near Thurles, and Purcell claimed his generous prize. Thus, the area in which the Castle stands is known as "the field of the reward", referring to the gift Purcell received from the King.

The legend is alluded to in the Purcell family's coat of arms, which depicts the heads of four boars.

Sources - de Breffny & Folliott, "The Houses of Ireland"; Dúchas, "Archaeological Inventory of North Tipperary, Vol. I"; Seymour, "Loughmoe Castle and its Legends" in JRSAI, Vol. XXXIX, pp. 70 - 74 (1909)

previousPrevious - Templemore
Next - Thurlesnext