The Castle of the Curlews, The Red Earl & an ancient border  

Ballinafad Castle was built in 1590 and is also known as the ‘Castle of the Curlews’. It has had a turbulent history due to it’s strategic (or dodgy) location that controlled the Red Earl’s Road through the Curlew Mountains between south Connaught, north Connacht and west Ulster. It was built during the nine years war (1592-1601) by Captain John St Barbe on land granted to him by King James I. It was modeled in a similar style to a 13th century Norman castle with a central 3 story block dwarfed by four massive corner towers. It was constantly under attack from both English and Gaelic forces. Red Hugh O’Donnell partially destroyed it in 1595 but Captain John St Barbe later returned and remained here till his death in 1628. It was later attacked by the Burkes, then local Irish forces in 1642, and then was retaken by Cromwell in 1651. After this, it was used for the chancery inquisitions for the Sligo area after the restoration of Charles I but it finally fell into disuse in 1680. It is now a national monument and under the care of the Office of Public Works.