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Canbo (from ceann=head; bua=win) just south of Ballinvilla, is the only place of this name in Ireland.  

Long ago, Lisdaly, Canbo, and Ballinvilla loughs were much larger bodies of water, protecting “Cenn Bughbha” aka “Cenbuigh” from all sides. An access route to Canbo hill by way of Ballinvilla’s southern ridge would have become apparent as waters receded. The Annals of Boyle tell us Canbo was the ancient seat of the O’Farrells. Canbo was a McDermot stronghold for centuries. The Normans left the McDermotts to their own devices and Canbo was not affected (until the 1540 Tudor Conquest, when it then passed into English hands).

A castle at Canbo was demolished by Rory Mac Dermot (KM 1549-68) and Brian Ballach Mor O'Rourke in 1536. Canbo Castle (aka “Kenvoe”) as we know it today, was reputedly built by an Elizabethan adventurer named Crofton (who loaned money to the English crown on the promise of lands following the war).

The castle of Castlebragade or Canbo was held by John Crofton in 1585 (Freeman 1936, 164), but he had lost it to Irish rebels by 1596 (Cronin 1980, 117). Crofton moved to Ballymurry near Roscommon town, which was later called Mote Park, but his daughter, Ann, married Josias Lambert in 1603 and received Canbo as part of her dowry.

In 1618 the “castle and lands of Canbo” were granted by King James to William O’Mulloy, knight of the shire for Co. Roscommon. However, Josias Lambert owned Canbo in 1635 when, Canbo castle was described as '... a fair Castle Bawn and stone house standeth' (Simington 1949, 165), but no visible surface trace of a bawn survives.  Lambert had also acquired Leamgire castle (RO010-0075) in 1622.  In 1641, Lambert owned 6 townlands in the parish, namely: Carrowmore, Canbo, Lisdaly, Drumerr, Drumlion and Danesfort.

By 1676 Canbo (and Lambert's other property) had passed to a Thomas Farrell of Newcastle, Co. Galway, who had disposed of it to a James Farrell by 1681 (D'Alton 1845, 89). 

In the mid 18th century Richard Caddell succeeded to estates in counties Sligo, Roscommon and Galway, by the will of his maternal uncle James Farrell of Kilmore, county Roscommon (on condition he adopt the O'Farrell name). Hence, Richard O'Farrell Caddell, Harbourstown House, Balbriggan, county Dublin is recorded as the owner of Canbo in the 1870s.

This 'castle' had an interesting twin stringcourse of brick in its walls, which was unusual for a stronghouse of its period. Sadly, the castle fell into ruins in the 19th century, and many of its stones were extracted by locals to build farmhouses in the area. All that remains, today, is the crumbling gable end of what was, once, a large rectangular structure.

Situated on level ground overlooking a N-S stream or drain to the W. The E end of a rectangular three-storey building (int. dims c. 14m E-W; 5.78m N-S) survives, consisting of the E gable and adjacent lengths of the N (L 3.55m) and S (L c. 3m) walls (T 1.1m), the W end being reduced to a low scarp. A doorway (Wth 1.35m) with an internal drawbar-socket is at the E end of the S wall, but the walls are featureless apart from a window in the E gable and the E side of window embrasures in the N and S walls. There is no evidence of a bawn (RO010-084002-). Rath (RO010-083----) is c. 80m to the W and Knockroe Castle (RO010-085001-) is c. 1.2km to the WSW.


Written at Cambo Castle by poet Patrick John Neary (District Councillor)

[Addressrd to To C J Mulvey, President Croghan Division A O H] 

PUBLISHED:  Leitrim Observer Saturday, January 17, 1914 


And in its ruins lonely lie 

Yon Castle’s fame and glory, 

No tow'ring spires point to the sky, 

Its looks are dark and hoary.


Its ancient fame is now unknown 

And gone its ancient splendour, 

Where welcome was to stranger shown And love benign and tender.


Bright gardens once are weed strew

now . 

Their beauty long is faded— 

Unguarded now each winding brow 

For thus neglect has made it. 


Alas that time such pow'r can claim 

To Work his wond'rous magic, 

He blots our ev' ry joy,  save fume , Nor weeps the changes tragic


Yon Castle’s fate is mankind's to , 

Wheo once we have departed ; 

Fogotten soon by men  ‘tis true

Tho' we were once brave hearted.


And as the Castle gardens grow

 The weeds which prove unsightly, 

Thus graves present the self same view 

O'er hearts which once beat lightly 


A marble tomb may mark a grave 

Yet time to dust such dashes , 

The mem'ry's courted by the brave 

To guard their sacred  ashes.


May Cambo man her castle yet 

Who will for homeland rally, 

When England base shall dare to set 

A foot on Canbo’s Valley



Address Canbo, Croghan, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Parish(es) Killummod (Roscommon)
Category (ies) Heritage/Culture