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History of Turin Castle

An exact date of building Turin Castle has not survived on the page of history, but concluding from the notes of medieval chronicler O'Donovan, there were several strongholds on the Kilmaine land. The noble English-Normand House of de Burgh is believed to have been their founders. It is likely that a number of square castles in the typical Roman style appeared already in the time of Richard de Burgh in the 1230s, when he ruled over the whole west Irish province of Connacht. The House of de Burgh was one of the most influential houses in Ireland and England in the 13th-14th century, thus in order to provide security for its new estates, its members constructed new castles, guard towers and resistance posts. The following strongholds are on this list and are mentioned in the chronicle by O'Donovan: Turin, Elistron, Killernan and Cregduff.

The historical name of Turin Castle probably derives from an Old Irish word structure meaning a «small bleaching field». It was directly related to «white stone» deposits located there since limestone was commonly used by shepherds for bleaching leather. In the Middle Ages the land owners of Connacht gained great profits from meat, leather and wool deliveries to continental Europe. The lands of Kilmaine were gradually becoming the political and economic centre of the country. By the first half of the 16th century there were about 40 castles, more than in any other region of Connacht. By that time the House of de Burgh had assimilated with local people, adopting Irish customs, the language and clothing to such an extent that it was said that the House of de Burgh «was more Irish than the Irish themselves».

The descendants of the House of de Burgh created two branches of clan MacWilliam, their members controlled the south and north land of Connacht, providing care for its estate owners and lessee. In that time Turin Castle was part of a system of defensive buildings protecting a trade route running from Lough Corrib to Galway. Behind the castle walls was a small garrison of hired soldiers or members of clans subordinated to clan MacWilliam. Walter Mcrimont was one of the castle owners. A note survived that says he was a member of the army of clan Sionin in Kilmaine in the 1570s.

During the reign of Elizabeth I the noblemen of Connacht were deprived of their titles. As a result, many influential families had to sell their estates to new English-Irish rulers. It was a direct cause of several uprisings in 1580-90, members of various Irish clans took part in them, including the House of de Burgh and MacWilliam. After suppressing the uprisings, a period of active settlement in the region started, when quite a big number of migrants from Scotland and England arrived in County Mayo. In that period numerous castles of historic value were abandoned because their new owners chose more comfortable and modern places to live.

Turin Castle had also been left to its own fate for many years. From time to time there were attempts to demolish its walls to get materials needed for constructing new buildings, but the main part of the castle was untouched and kept its original appearance. In the second half of the 20th century a reconstruction of Turin stronghold began. It was transformed into a small but extremely comfortable and cosy hotel. The Irish landscapes of nearby pastures, calm atmosphere, the original castle interior with decorative medieval items as well as close proximity of tourist attractions of west Ireland made Turin Castle an unusually attractive place for family holidays, wedding ceremonies or other ceremonies there.