Wolfe Tone, The Armada and The O’Doherty Clan

This interesting little building is locally known as O’Doherty’s Keep. Its date of construction is unknown. It resembles a fortified tower house from the 15th century but recent excavations believe it may be a corner tower of an undocumented 13th century Norman castle. During the 1400s it came into the possession of the O’Doherty Clan who added the third floor and used it as a part of their network of castles around the Inishowen peninsula. In 1588, sailors from the Spanish Armada were ‘housed’ in the keep by Sean Óg O’Doherty after being rescued after being shipwrecked in Kinnegoe Bay. In 1608 Sir Cahir O’Doherty (Sean Og’s son) led a rising against the English garrison in Derry and the keep was burned in reprisal. In one of Harry Swan’s books on Inishowen, there is a photograph of a collection of swords, daggers, and pike heads that belonged to Sir Cahir which were found under the keep which backs up this fact. After this rebellion, all the property and land in Inishowen (including this keep) was granted to Sir Arthur Chichester. Chichester then subsequently leased it to a fellow Englishman called Henry Vaughan whose grandson George ‘planned’ Buncrana Town. George also lived in this keep with his family until they built the nearby manor house known as Buncrana Castle in 1718. Wolfe Tone, the leader of the 1798 Rising was also imprisoned here before being taken to Dublin Castle after being captured aboard a French Frigate in Lough Swilly. Today, the building is roofless but is under State protection.