Raphoe Castle is one of the most impressive seventeenth-century buildings in Ulster. It was built by John Leslie, the bishop of Raphoe, in the 1630s and stands on a site overlooking the cathedral and town of Raphoe. The castle comprises a square four-storey block, including the basement, with bastion-like towers at each corner.
Raphoe castle was described by a seventeenth-century antiquarian as the ‘the fairest and withal the strongest of that sort in this kingdom’, while a recent historian called it ‘one of the architecturally-innovative glories of the plantation’.
Bishop Leslie was the eldest son of George and Marjory Leslie and was born at Crichie in Aberdeenshire in 1571. In 1628 he was appointed bishop of Orkney and the Isles and in 1633 he became bishop of Raphoe. In 1661 he was appointed bishop of Clogher. He died in 1671, just a few weeks short of his 100th birthday.
In 1688/9 the castle was damaged by Jacobite forces. Subsequently, it was repaired by Bishop Alexander Cairncross (a former archbishop of Glasgow). Further renovations seem to have been carried out in the mid eighteenth century when the windows were enlarged and a Classical door-case was added to the front of the building.
Raphoe Castle, Raphoe, County Donegal
The castle stands on private land, but can be viewed from the roadside.