Burt Castle was built around 1560 – 1580 and and would have originally been located on an island surrounded by marshland. This was just one of a network of castles built around Inishowen by the O’Doherty clan. The O’Doherty’s were called the ‘Lords of Inishowen’ and under the process called ‘Surrender and Regrant’ Sean Mor O’Dochartaigh bent the knee before King Henry VIII in 1541 and became Sir John O’Doherty. This brought the chieftains into the English legal system with the downside that the king could take back the land and grant it to however he chose. The castle fell in and out of the O’Doherty hands and had various occupiers including brothers Richard and Henry Hovenden who resided here in 1587 and were commanded to resist the Spanish Armada. It was later occupied by Sir Henry Dowcra, an English soldier who was sent to subdue a rebellion during the 9 years war (1594 – 1603). Sir Cahair O’Doherty took up residence here in 1601 as he had sided with Dowcra, became known as ‘The Queen’s O’Doherty’. O’Doherty had been on the jury that found the Irish Earls guilty of treason but he himself was arrested for the same reason by Dowcra’s successor Sir George Paulet. He was eventually released on £1000 bail and then went on carry out his rebellion by sacking Derry, Strabane and Lifford (killing Paulet in the process). The castle eventually fell into the hands of Sir Arthur Chichester who quelled the rebellion. Chichester was granted O’Doherty’s 170,000 acres of land after O’Doherty was hung, drawn and quarterted! The castle had 3 stories, 2 circular watch towers, a small vaulted chamber and openings for muskets. A medallion dated to 1525 and a coin to 1547 was found near the castle. It was recorded that the castle was in ruins by 1833 and has suffered further damage since.

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