The earliest and most important of the ‘Big Houses’ of Inishowen

During the 18th century, large manor houses like this one were known as ‘castles’. This house was built by Colonel George Vaughan in 1718 and is the earliest and most important of the big houses of Inishowen. It is located near the mouth of the Crana River on a site next to an earlier castle called ‘O’ Doherty’s Keep’. The Keep was just one in a network of castles owned by the O’Doherty clan to defend the Inishowen Peninsula. The Keep and the surrounding lands were seized in 1608 by Sir Arthur Chichester after Sir Cahir O’Doherty’s failed rebellion. Chichester leased The Keep to an Englishman called Henry Vaughan, whose grandson was Colonel George Vaughan. George lived in the Keep with his family while he built this house and the nearby six arched bridge across the River Crana. He also planned Buncrana and started building the main street at this time. On 18 May 1812, Isaac Todd bought the entire town of Buncrana and the surrounding townlands at the Court of Chancery on behalf of the trustees of the Marquess of Donegall. His nephews inherited the castle, and they later became known as the Thornton-Todds. Today, the castle remains as a private home. In the forecourt, there is a memorial rock in honor of Sir Cahir O’Doherty and a plaque dedicated to Wolfe Tone.