Just a 15 minute drive from Galway, sitting on the River Corrib, is the abandoned Menlo Castle.
The castle was built in the mid 16th century. It was originally occupied by Thomas Colman but shortly thereafter, the Blake family (the Blakes were one of the original 14 Tribes of Galway) acquired the castle and lived there for several generations. Then, in 1910 a fire swept through the castle while Sir Valentine Blake and Lady Blake were away in Dublin. Their disabled daughter, Eleanor, was killed and her body was never recovered. In their grief, the Blakes left the castle, never to live there again.
The Galway City Council obtained the castle and property in 2000 yet it still was left to rot and ivy grew up the outside walls of the castle.
Recently, construction fencing was placed around the castle, preventing visitors from going inside the crumbling ruins. There’s also a gate at the entrance of the property but many people ignore it and walk around or hop the gate.
The entire castle used to be covered in ivy, but recently many of the vines were cut back (by the construction company?) and now little ivy remains. However, ivy is relentless, and if they don’t stay on top of it, the vines will soon take over again.
Still, ivy or not, it is an awe inspiring sight and well worth a visit. There are no facilities on site, but if you bring food and a blanket it would be a nice spot to picnic along the river. You can watch the boats motor by or the kayakers paddle in the water. Despite the relative remoteness of the castle, directly across the river is the National University of Ireland, Galway, so there’s always folks walking around on the other side.
About the Author
Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides to Lisbon, Porto, Sintra, Monsaraz, and Evora in Portugal. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.