Badhbhunmor or Badhbunmore Castle, in Carrownamorrissy townland, was rectangular in shape, and roughly 50ft by 30ft in size. While its total length and breath compares to that at nearby Rathgorgin, both its name and the evidence of a second structure of roughly similar proportions inside the bawn wall — as well as the field systems surrounding it —suggests it function was more akin to the so-called castle to the east at Tooloobaun i.e. that of a fortified farmstead.
Typical of Norman fortifications, the ‘castle’ rested near an available water-source being located just south of the Dooyertha River on an ele-vated base. To the south-west is a drain or dyke, and today the complex is very rocky and covered in bushes. The structure may date from the latter fourteenth century as it was not listed alongside the castles of Tooloobaun and Rathgorgin in the ‘1333 de Burgo Inquisition Post Mor-tem’, though this is far from certain. What is clear, given the footprint of structures in the area; this was once a sizeable population centre.
The castle’s name is derived from ‘Bábhun mór’ meaning ‘large bawn’ though what its original name was is unclear. A bawn was the area around a castle, surrounded by a wall, and there were often a number of towers along the wall as sup-port. The majority of castles were provided with a bawn, though few survive. Regrettably, as with so many other struc-tures in this region, the castle was used as a quarry for stone during the construction of local bridges during relief works in the mid nineteenth century (1855-56). The placename ‘Baunmore’ continues to be used in the locality to refer to the area.
The official townland name of Carrownamorrissy, Ceathrú na Muiríosach, or the quarterland of the Morrisseys suggests connections with that family. The Morrissey name is, in almost all cases, derived from the powerful Anglo-Norman family of de Marisco who settled in Munster in the thirteenth century. Notably the Mossisseys had also married into the de Ber-mingham family which may explain a link to this area just east of Athenry. Notwithstanding such connections, it would be a leap too far to suggest that it was this family who built or occupied the structure.
Sadly, there are no real clues to the building’s history in surviving records. The castle, or at least the remains and lands with same, were held by the Burkes in the seventeenth century with the Book of Survey and Distribution recording the transfer of ‘Kearrownemorsagh’ from Ino McRedmd Ellevy McHubert Bourke to James Darcey. The Persse family, later of Moyode, would attain ownership in the following century but its condition by then is unclear.
William Larkin’s 1819 map does suggest that the structure was more extensive at that point, albeit even then it was noted as being in ruins. The earliest Ordnance Survey map (below, with modern aerial image also provided) suggests five stand-ing walls, being the north-eastern and south-western walls with internal walls on the same parallel ,as well as two south-erly walls facing north-east/south-west. At the time of writing, the area is strewn with visible stones beneath the surface. With the advent of digitisation one hopes that broader record-sets might yield more detail, as may a site excavation.
This Chronicle was created using information originally published in the South East Galway Archaeological and Historical Society Newsletter No. 25.