Welcome to Castlegregory

History- A Tale of Romance and Tragedy

The village of Castlegregory got its name from the great Castle of Gregory Hoare, a local chieftain who flourished towards the middle of the sixteenth century and who built the castle. "It stands fair and firm at last" said old Gregory as he looked at the barred windows and strong walls which he had just completed as tenant-in-chief under the Earl of Desmond. "There is no Moore will dare to try his hand or break his head against that fortress." Gregory Hoare's great rival was William Moore who lived in Shauntallive, three miles to the east of Castlegregory. He was known as Sly Will because of his cleverness and cautiousness but he was never a match for the prosperous and successful Gregory Hoare. The latter treated Sly Will with contempt. They were deadly enemies and many a skirmish was fought where their territories joined.

Gregory Hoare had a son Hugh, his heir and the pride of his life. As often happens in love affairs whom did Hugh Hoare fall in love with but Ellen Moore, the handsome daughter of his father's dreaded enemy. Unknown to Old Gregory, the happy lovers roamed through the woods of Shauntallive.

At this very time, there was renewed enmity between the chieftains about the bounds of their respective possessions. Gregory Hoare was foiled at law, the case ruled against him and he returned home an embittered man against the Moores. That very night the old man got a fearful attack of paralysis. Thenceforward he was a broken man, his faculties were impaired and he became an imbecile. He had to be carried round as a complete invalid in his beautiful castle. One or two years passed and Hugh Hoare, now mature, decided to marry his sweetheart Ellen Moore as his father gave no indication of returning to normal health. Great preparations were made for the wedding and Sly Will Moore was overjoyed with the alliance. He looked forward to the day when he would escort the new Lady of Castlegregory to her new home. To mark the occasion, it was decided that the name of Hugh Hoare and Ellen Moore be carved on the arch of limestone over the door of the castle.

On May 5th 1566 the great bridal party arrived at Castlegregory and proceeded to the Castle. With shout and hurrah and pipers playing with all their might the party reached the door of the Castle. Nobody thought of Old Gregory the invalid. The latter, stirred by all the commotion and excitement, made his way to the castle door un-noticed. Through the dense crowd he saw William Moore. Brandishing his crutch in rage he rushed at the enemy of his long life and in the effort he fell dead upon the threshold.

Sad to relate Hugh Hoare's marriage was not a very happy one. Many differences arose between husband and wife. They had seven children, many of whom died when very young. Only one daughter, Marion, grew to be a young lady. The big difference in their married life was political. Hugh favoured the Elizabethan side while his wife favoured the Desmond side.

In the midst of their unhappiness, word came to Hugh Hoare that the Elizabethan army under Lord Grey was on its way to Smerwick Harbour to give battle to a party of Spaniards who had landed there to aid the Desmond cause. Hugh Hoare decided to offer the hospitality of his Castle to part of the Elizabethan army under Colonel Gouch. He ordered special supplies of food and drink from Tralee. A great feast was prepared. Far different were the feelings of his wife, Ellen. She hated the thought of entertaining this army and its Commanders. She swore she would deal with them her own way. When the banquet was at its height and when her husband called for more wine and cheere, the servants, who went to the wine-cellar found the cellar floor afloat with wine and not a drop left in the barrels. Rushing to the scene Hugh Hoare, with his passions flamed, found his wife the author of the dreadful deed, returning from the cellar. Without a moments reflection he struck the ill-fated woman with a knife and she fell dead at his feet. Hugh Hoare was arrested and when the horsemen and horse which was to take him to prison arrived at the Castle door, the Lord of the Castle, now a ruined man was overtaken with remorse. His chest heaved with emotion, his brow blackened and his whole framework shook. A blood vessal gave way and Hugh Hoare fell dead on the very spot where his father expired eighteen years before.

Hugh's daughter, Marion, married Walter Hussey of Dingle who became Lord of Castlegregory, and they lived happily for many years. Cromwell's soldiers laid siege to the castle in 1649. Walter Hussey made a desperate sortie and managed to get away reaching Minard Castle on the other side of the mountains. But, Cromwell's soldiers burned the castle to the ground and thus ended Gregory Hoare's Castle scene of a bloody three-act-tragedy.

Today, no trace of the castle remains but natives of the village can point to the field where it was- due east of Strand Street.  When Tom Lynch of Kilcummin had his Country Store Supermarket built in Castlegregory village, he resurrected the two old limestones and designed a replica of the old archway placing the two old limestones on top and on the left side a slab, also from the old castle, with a bullet hole clearly visable on it. On the two old limestones you can read the following mysterious letters inscribed on the occaasion of Hugh Hoare's marriage: HY.H.ET.E.M.:ME.E-V.D.M.A.D. MDLXVI. The symbols run thus: Hugh Hoare et Ellen Moore me effecere Quinto die Maii 1566 which translated means: Hugh Hoare and Ellen Moore got these letters cut on May 5th 1566.

Submitted by: www.castlegregorykerry.com