Portumna Castle and Gardens

Portumna Castle and Gardens

Top Tourist Attractions

Portumna Castle is a unique example of the transitional Irish architecture of the early 1600s. Built by the fourth earl of Clanricarde, Portumna Castle was the de Burgo family power base for centuries. A major fire in 1826 left the castle a roofless shell, but the state began to bring it back from ruin in the 1960s. Restoration work continues to this day.

Portumna Castle & Gardens

Portumna Castle, built close to 4 centuries ago by the de Burgo (Burke) family, is one of the most imposing and awe-inspiring structures, sitting on the shores of Lough Derg, the River Shannon, and Portumna Forest Park in Portumna, County Galway. Portumna Castle. Constructed in 1618 by the 4th Earl of Clanricarde, Richard De Burgo, this semi-fortified house is a Jacobean–style building with geometrically laid gardens. It’s an interesting example of Irish architecture in the transition between the medieval fortified tower house and the classical large country manor.

The ground floor of the castle is open to the public and houses an exhibition on the history and restoration of the castle.

Highlights of Portumna Castle

Inside the Castle 

The Castle demesne is magnificently situated on the shores of Lough Derg on the River Shannon in the picturesque town of Portumna. The dramatic walk up to the building leads you through a series of 3 impressive gateways.

  • Morrison gateway designed with oak leaf and acorn motifs, evokes the old meaning of Portumna – “the landing place of the oak”.
  • The middle gate is lined with ash & cherry trees as well as magnificent specimens of copper beech & London plane.
  • The Italian-style Tuscan gate bears the ancient coat of arms of the Burke family.

Magnificent Architecture

Portumna Castle was built to a pioneering design influenced by European Renaissance architecture and is one of Ireland’s very earliest semi-fortified manor houses. The reinstated chimney and roof make the building as grand and iconic as it ever was. There are many other interesting features such as the remains of iron grid gate, musket holes, gun loops, and an ornate machicolation.

Unravel the History

The elegance of Portumna built between 1610-1618 attributed to the taste, experience, and wealth of its builder, Richard Burke, fourth Earl of Clanricarde, Lord President of the Connacht of the famous De Burgo family. Portumna was one of the first buildings to admit some Renaissance refinements. This great mansion conveys an impression of alien splendor and has a curiously continental air.

The formal gardens of Portumna Castle were laid out in the 17th Century and were the 1st Italian gardens to be introduced to Ireland. The stately gardens contain formal walks, arbors, parterres, hedges, fountains, artificial cascades, and statues.

Splendid Gardens

Walk into the gardens and enjoy the lush greenery and dramatic backdrops. The gardens at Portumna are a delightful experience for gardening enthusiasts. Designed according to the Renaissance fashion, in a geometrical and symmetrical plan, the garden reflects seasonal changes magnificently.

  • The Walled Kitchen Garden was a larder for the house, growing vegetables and herbs alongside flowers, fruit trees, and shrubs. On a glorious day, amid the fragrance of the roses, take a stroll around the garden, sit down, relax in the many seated areas, and let the 17th-century ambiance captivate your senses.
  • Worth seeing in flower is the well-established Wisteria Archway that fills the garden with scent in mid-May, the mini woodland that has a carpet of primroses and bulbs in early spring, and the large vegetable garden planted up with potatoes, herbs, peas, sweetcorn, and pumpkins in summer. Of particular interest to children is the willow maze that grows taller and taller as the summer progresses. There are sunny bench seats along the south-facing wall, shady arbors in the woodland, and even a thatched gazebo with a large pergola over cobbles draped in grapes. 

Leisurely walks

Portumna Castle and Gardens is an ideal destination for those who enjoy walking. A walk on the ground floor of the castle takes you to the interpretive panels that shine a light on the family history, the castle architecture, and restoration works. As you walk further one comes across the ruins of a ‘Dominican priory’ which leads in turn to the Castle Harbour. A gentle stroll around the gardens is an experience to remember. The forest is a great spot for a picnic by the lake, where one can walk or cycle on trails in Portumna Forest Park. There is also an Irish Workhouse Center that tells the fascinating story of the Great Hunger.


After a stroll in the garden, head towards the Tea Room. Here it offers various specialties of teas, coffees, and confectionaries. It also serves quality, nutritious lunches. Its friendly and warm atmosphere makes the Tea room a relaxed place to spend some quality time with family and friends.

Fun with Family

There is a lot to enjoy with a family that includes both young and old in Portumna Castle. You can take a family photo in the stocks or run around in the Willow Maze in the Kitchen Garden or enjoy a game of chess. There is also a fun quiz which is a great way for children to learn some local history.

It also offers tours for school children to understand the history of the castle with these lively and interesting experiences.

Exhibition in Portumna Castle & Gardens

  • ‘Eye On Nature’ is a nature theme outdoor exhibition that can be viewed at the Formal Gardens. Earlier it was a national competition launched by RTE’s ‘Today’s Show’. The Portumna Castle displays the winner and its winning picture.
  • ‘All Creatures Great & Small’ is a collaborative collection of artworks that includes 31 artists in a variety of artistic media and focuses on nature and human interaction. This collaboration from the OPW and the Department of Finance, Northern Ireland is currently on exhibition at the castle.

A virtual reality DVD presentation was added to the exhibition by bringing the story to life.

The Portumna Castle and Gardens is well worth a visit with so much to explore and experience. A Portumna castle visit is surely a beautiful real-life experience of rejoicing picnic with the family and cherished moments for a lifetime.