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Sweeney History


Click here to see the restoration work on Doe Castle

The Doe branch of the clan is descended from Donnchadh Mór son of Donnchadh Óg of Fanad who died in 1340 and was succeeded by Donnchadh Mór who resided at Doe and from then on Doe became the chief residence of the clan ruling over the Trí Tuatha Thoraighe.

No one is quite sure when Doe Castle (Caislean na dTuath) was built or by whom. It is however generally accepted by the experts that its first or very early occupants were Sweeney's (MacSuibhne). It has all the features of a fifteenth century fortress and again the experts agree circa 1425 as the date of its building and it remained in Sweeney possession for the next two hundred years. During that time Doe Castle saw many illustrious chieftains from Eoghan Connachtach (d.1359 in captivity) who succeeded Donnchadh Mór, to Eoghan Óg I (d 1554 slain in battle near Bloody Foreland in a family feud) His son Eoghan Óg II was probably one of the better known chieftains who held the castle 1570 - 1592. He provided refuge to survivors of the Spanish Armada, something most northern chiefs were afraid to do for fear of reprisal by the English. He was the only one to be given special mention in the Annals of the Four Masters. He became foster father to Red Hugh O'Donnell who was entrusted to his care in 1587.

The much maligned Maolmhuire an Bhata Buí was the last of a long line of MacSuibhne chieftains to be publicly inaugurated and a nephew of Eoghan Óg II. He revolted from Red Hugh O'Donnell and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. He earned his nickname, An Bata Buí (the yellow stick) from the gilt baton symbol of his knighthood. There is no doubt but he was an opportunist who switched sides to his own advantage.

In 1601 he was on the side of Red Hugh O'Donnell and together with the chieftains of Fanad and Banagh was on the long disastrous march to Kinsale which was to mark the beginning of the end of the great Irish Chieftains. From 1600 onwards the castle saw turbulent times and changed hands several times. After the rebellion of 1641 the Sweeneys were back in possession. In 1642 Eoghan Rua O'Neill sailed in Sheephaven Bay with 100 veterans of the Spanish armies and were received at Doe Castle. By 1650 the castle was back in English hands with Robert Conygham, a commander in Cromwell's brutal army in residence. He was slain at Cashelmore, near Ards (Creeslough) by two Arranmore Island men for commanding a force who raided Arranmore Island and murdered a total of 83 women and children.

In 1800 the castle bought by George Vaughan Harte. He carried out extensive work on the towerhouse and added the surrounding enclosure. His initials GVH are still above the entrance on the east side. His coat of arms now replaced by the Sweeney coat of arms. His son John who as a boy of sixteen to part in the battle of Waterloo, succeeded him, and by all accounts was extremely well liked by the local population.

After all those turbulent years of war, famine and weather the castle fell into disrepair at the turn of this century and soon became a derelict ruin, that is until the present Sweeney Clan Association began agitating for its restoration to its former glory. It is the only Sweeney Castle to survive intact and was therefore important to have remedial work carried out immediately to ensure its survival for centuries to come.

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Click here to see the restoration work on Doe Castle

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