top of page
1670 indenture 1.jpg

Brackloon 1600-1700

Ambrose Maol (‘the Bald’) O Madden was one of the principal landholders in the easternmost region of County Galway in the late 1630s. From his castle at Brackloon he was owner of a considerable part of the surrounding parish of Clonfert, from the bottom of a local height known as Redmount Hill to the banks of the River Shannon. From the western half of their estate, including the land upon which stood their castle, a nominal rental was due annually from the Brackloon family to the nearby Bishop of Clonfert as part of an agreement extending back centuries. Other junior members of his immediate family were settled on lands in the general vicinity of Brackloon.

Cromwellian Period 

In 1641 a party of the Irish Catholic gentry rose in rebellion, dissatisfied with the arrival of new Protestant colonists, fearing Catholic marginalization and insecurity of land title. The rising spread across the country, with many of the new settlers targeted for persecution. A number of years of chaos and warfare ensued. The Cromwellian regime that came to power in England after defeating and abolishing the monarchy quashed any remaining Irish resistance by the early 1650s and large scale land confiscations and internal transplantation of Irish landholders ensued.

John Eyre of Eyrecourt

Like most of their neighbours, the Maddens at Brackloon lost ownership of their lands at this time. Much of their former lands were acquired by Captain John Eyre, a Cromwellian from Wiltshire in England who acquired a vast estate across the eastern region of County Galway and elsewhere. Eyre settled locally and, after marrying the daughter of a wealthy local Protestant glassmaker, took up temporary residence not far from Brackloon in the house of the Protestant Bishop of Clonfert. He then moved to the nearby castle of Ballymore by the mid 1660s while his new mansion was constructed in the latest architectural fashion three miles from Brackloon, to be known as Eyrecourt Castle.

Despite the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, a large percentage of those Irish who had lost lands were not restored to their former property and many Cromwellian settlers were left in possession of their new estates. Although Ambrose Madden of Brackloon was one of the many whose names were submitted for restitution in 1664, he appears to have been unsuccessful and his family’s former lands remained for the most part in the hands of John Eyre and some in the possession of the Moore family seated nearby at Cloghan Castle.

Surviving today at Brackloon is the legal document drawn up in December of 1670 by John Eyre to settle the future of his estates. Listed alongside the ‘Capitall House Bawne Towne and Lands of Killenehy alias Eyrcourt’, were the ‘Castle, Towne and Lands of Bracklone, Killoran, Clunkea, Kinkelly als Cankell, Killireagh’, the townland of Kilmacshane and others that had formerly formed the estate of the Maddens of Brackloon. To the best of our knowledge this is the earliest surviving original contemporary document in which reference is made not only to the castle at Brackloon but also Eyre’s newly built mansion of Eyrecourt.

Penelope Lawrence alias Madden

While Eyre was proprietor of the lands, the Maddens appear to have remained at Brackloon as tenants and Penelope, the heiress of the senior line of the Maddens of Brackloon maintained the use of certain of her ancestral lands into the early eighteenth century. Penelope Madden married one of the Lawrence family of Lissreaghan House, six miles from Brackloon, a family of English origin who settled locally in the late 1500s. In the land transaction of 1720 in which she sold her interest in the easternmost part of her family’s former lands, she was described as a widow and the ‘sole daughter and heiress of Ambrose Madden Bracklone, junior, deceased and granddaughter of Ambrose Madden Bracklone the elder, deceased.’

The description of Penelope’s father as ‘of Brackloon’ would suggest that he may have resided for a time at least at the tower house but it is uncertain at what stage the senior line of the family ceased to live here. While the senior line of the family appears to have died with Penelope’s father, a number of Madden families of some standing were established in the eighteenth century around Kilnaborris and Kilmacshane, within what were formerly the lands attached to the family group of Brackloon.

bottom of page