Wakeman made this painting at Ballinafad on 5 August 1879. The three span bridge was out of use in Wakeman's time and was demolished in the 20th century. At the time the Sruthgeal River was somewhat larger and the flood plains of Lough Arrow were more extensive before the occurrence of land drainage and reclaimation. Wakeman's illustration is one of the only visual records of this Ballinafad bridge.

The castle in the background of this painting was built around 1590 by Sir Richard Bingham to strengthen military control in the Sligo area. Its main function was to control the Curlews Pass and the road called the Red Earl's Road. This road passes by Ballinafad Castle, but stretches from Ballymote Castle to Boyle. It was apparently built by Richard de Burgo

Richard De Burgo 'The Red Earl'

Richard De Burgo 'The Red Earl'. Drawn for Colonel Cooper by William Frederick Wakeman.

Copyright Sligo County Library

 , the Red Earl of Ulster, sometime around 1300.

The location of Ballinafad controlled a strategic route between south Connaught into north Connaught and west Ulster. The fort is an Elizabethan fortified blockhouse, built during the Nine Years War (1592-1601) and was garrisoned by ten men and commanded by Captain John St Barbe. Red Hugh O'Donnell partially destroyed it in 1595. Captain St Barbe returned and stayed there until his death in 1628 and was succeeded by Henry Fletcher .  It resisted assaults by the Burkes and other Irish during the 1641 rebellion but was once again sacked by 1642. Following the surrender of the Irish in 1652 it came under control of William Taafe and was garrisoned by English forces to protect land settlements following the restoration of Charles II and fell out of use by 1680.

The design is modelled on a 13th century plan and is four stories high with a 10.6m by 8m rectangular block with four 6m diameter corner towers. The western tower contained a spiral wooden stairs and all the floors were of timber. The entrance doorway on the first floor in the northwest wall is almost entirely rebuilt but a drawbar socket survives. Numerous openings of gun loops are present throughout the castle and each tower has a small box machicolation used to throw stones or other missiles on the enemies to ward them off. Tall chimney stacks survive on top of the east and north towers.

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