The Exeters, The MacJordans, and a 700-year-old ruin

Ballylahan Castle is located a couple of kilometers northeast of Strade village in County Mayo. It was constructed in 1239 on the south bank of the River Moy by Jordan de Exeter who took part in the battle of Connacht. The Exeters came to Ireland during the first Norman invasion in 1168 and accompanied Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke. In order to assume Irish patronymics, the name was changed to MacJordan after Jordan De Courcy died in 1197. De Exeter was later appointed the Sheriff of Connacht and this area became known as MacJordan country. Ballylahan castle was attacked in 1316 by the King of Connacht Felim O Concobair and it appears that the castle was never really reconstructed in the following 700 years! Some of the De Exeters were killed during this attack and this may have had some bearing on why the castle was left in a ruined state. Jordan de Exeter also had a friary built in what is now the village of Straide. It is believed that at one time a 2km tunnel connected both of these structures. The castle has one of its original 2 towers left and its hexagonal shaped bawn is an unusual feature. The castle is now a national monument and under the care of the OPW.