2003:1657 - KILROSS: Castledargan House, Sligo

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Sligo Site name: KILROSS: Castledargan House

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 21:109(01) Licence number: 03E0604

Author: Martin A. Timoney

Site type: Country house

Period/Dating: Modern (AD 1750-AD 2000)

ITM: E 571513m, N 827700m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.197434, -8.436561

Castledargan lies to the south of the Ox Mountains between the villages of Ballygawley and Ballintogher, Co. Sligo. Developments for the restoration of Castledargan House, a new hotel, golf course and housing on the 154-acre demesne are ongoing. Castleloughdargan, the medieval castle of 1422 (SMR 21:45) built by Conor MacDonagh, Lord of Tirerrill, is at the east end of the demesne, while the mid-18th-century Ormsby House is at the west end. There are other monuments and some follies on the demesne. The restoration of Castledargan House was monitored throughout the second half of 2003.

The house was photographed in detail. An arched fireplace in the kitchen was partly exposed and sods of turf were found used as a filler to a wall extension in an upstairs front room.

Local information in the 1970s suggested that there was a 'possible castle or tower' at the south of the house; a curved wall around a water pump suggested a tower that post-dates the 1838 OS mapping.

Monitoring of trenching around the house exposed two late wall foundations at the rear, but there were no indications of an earlier house; the internal works did not lower the level to such an extent that wall foundations would be exposed.

About twenty major timber beams were recovered. Several of these, probably pine, were used as wall plates. Three substantial black oak beams were found within the fabric of the walls, where they were used as lintels. Beam 13 is 2.6m by 0.19m by 0.17m and has five opposing pairs of mortise holes; this was a substantial floor joist. Beam 15 is 2.52m by 0.17m by 0.27m and has a mortise hole in each of two adjacent sides, one with a cut-off tenon in it, and there are also pegs. Beam 20 is 1.08m by 0.23m by 0.16m. The longest beam, 3.27m by 0.21m by 0.18m, is a buff-coloured oak and was found supporting the stairs. It had been cut back leaving ten dentils, each 0.23m by 0.18m by 20mm, possibly spacers for lesser beams. Cuts and alterations indicate an earlier life, perhaps in a different stair arrangement of this house. These beams most likely came from Castledargan Castle, as also did a decorated window head found along a path outside the walled garden.

There is no evidence that Castledargan House incorporated any pre-18th-century building; the dating of its phases is still being worked out. There were no other archaeological discoveries in this part of the work.

Bóthar an Chorainn, Keash, Co. Sligo