Our Clan Home
Redwood Castle (Caislean Choillte Rua) is a Norman castle in Lorrha, County Tipperary.
The castle was built by the Normans around 1200 AD, and was occupied by them until c.1350, when the Mac Aodhagáins were installed on the lands.
As hereditary Brehons or lawyers, the clan established a school of learning here, which was patronised by the family for several hundred years.
The castle was enlarged and renovated several times, with considerable work in 1350 and 1580.
Aside from the original thick stone walls, the building demonstrates some architectural features common to Irish fortifications of the period (including a Murder-hole), and some less common features (including a Sheela na Gig).
The castle remained under continuous occupation and ownership by the MacAodhagain families until it was confiscated and burned at the time of the Cromwellian conquest c.1650.
The site remained in ruin, with only the thick exterior walls standing, until Michael J. Egan, a Mayo lawyer, purchased and renovated the building in 1972. While the castle remains a private residence, terms of the Department of Finance Heritage/Cultural Tax Relief mean the castle is open daily to the public. The castle has hosted several Clan rallies in recent years.
Redwood is a complex structure made up of two main sections. Firstly, there are a series of main chambers stacked one above the other that form the core of the tower house. These are accompanied by a series of smaller ancillary rooms at the front of the building, which were used as bed chambers.
This layout may seem fairly straightforward but it is complicated by each room being on different levels. While we normally think of castle walls as thick and strong for defensive purposes, they were in reality riddled with passageways and staircases that served the larger rooms inside. Irish castle builders generally made very economical use of walls for domestic purposes rather than military strength, meaning that castles were far less impenetrable than they appeared.
A series of defensive features on the exterior such as battlements and machicolation were instead used to convey a certain military bravado to those who approached the castle. The occupants of these castles were aristocratic warriors who participated in an ancient martial culture, and castles played an important part in dramatising and expressing their identity.