Menlo Castle can be found just outside of Galway City on the banks of the River Corrib that flows through the city into Galway Bay. It is a local fixture, visible right from across the river from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Yet this mysterious abandoned castle is so thoroughly overgrown with vegetation it is almost disappearing into the scenery.
The 16th-century castle was the home of the Blake family, English nobles that inhabited the Menlo estate (also called Blake Castle) from 1569 up until a fire destroyed the castle in 1910, tragically taking the life of the Blake’s disabled daughter, Eleanor, whose body was never found.
The riverside path alongside the empty castle is a quiet and unassuming spot, populated by just a few local dog walkers or joggers from the university. The green vegetation that blankets the castle makes it difficult to spot, as it blends in with its natural surroundings. But continue along and you’ll come upon the ruins of a small stone hut, which help to reveal that the castle will soon come into view.
When you get close enough, the large round towers distinguish the castle from the surrounding trees, and once you get a direct line of sight, the exposed stone toward the base reveals the extent of the structure. Green hanging vines cover nearly the entire stone exterior, indicating just how long the castle has been deserted and reclaimed by the natural landscape.
Update February 2022: The ivy on the castle has unfortunately been cut down, and a construction site fence has been erected around the castle, blocking access to the ruins.
Know Before You Go
The castle is around an hour walk or a short drive from the center of town. Walk to the end of the dirt road and hop over the locked gate at the end. After that it’s possible to go inside and explore the empty castle.