With the opening of the new town centre, Castle street has perhaps regained some of its former importance. Before the village of Ashbourne was built this road led to the site of Killegland Castle, from where it got its name. (Older residents of Ashbourne will also know it as Ned’s Lane).
In early Norman times a large tract of land in Killegland was granted to the Wafre family. They lived there until the mid-1400’s when the land went, through marriage to the Seagrave family, and they built a tower house (often called a castle) on the site. The Seagraves lived as the landowners in Killegland until, as Catholics they lost the land and their power in the latter part of the 17th century. The new landowner, Carter, did not live in Killegland and so the castle fell into disrepair.
Local history tells of a ‘big wind’ which knocked the remains of the tower house in the mid-1800’s. It is also said that Cromwell’s son Henry was granted the land and castle, and may have stayed there.
Records show the fall into ruin of the dwelling:
1654: Civil Survey: ‘Parish and towne of Killeglan: There are on the premisses a castle, a stone house with out houses, a church, a Mill and divers cabins.’
1835/36: Ordnance Survey Field Names Book: ‘Killegland Castle, situated at the south end of Castle Street in the town of Ashbourne. This is a square tower, the only part remaining of what was once a large building.’
Published 1921, Neighbourhood of Dublin, by Weston St. John Joyce: ‘Castle Street, a rough grass-grown lane, with the remains of massive stone pillars of an entrance gate, which evidently belonged to Killegland or Ashbourne Castle, an extensive quadrangular structure which stood here up to about 80 years ago, when it was demolished for sake of building material. No traces of it are now discernible.’
If you stand before the bridge on Castle Street facing up the lane leading to Killegland Cemetery, the site of the castle is directly behind you.