Killymoon Castle

Killymoon Castle is a castle situated about one mile (1.6 km) south east of Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland on the north bank of the Ballinderry River. In 1671 the original castle was built by James Stewart whose ancestors had come from Scotland during the plantation to settle in Cookstown. In 1666 James Stewart bought the land lease for the castle site from Alan Cooke, the founder of Cookstown. The original castle was destroyed by fire in 1801.

In 1802 Colonel William Stewart decided to rebuild the castle and employed one of London’s greatest architects John Nash, to design his castle. It was Nash’s first Irish project. The second Killymoon Castle was built on a much grander scale than the original, was completed in 1803 and is reputed to have cost £80,000.[1]

It is a two storey structure, irregular in plan, with the entrance on the east front. The castle is flanked by towers of which no two are the same. The south front has a large circular tower and to the south-west intersection there is an octagonal tower as roomy as the circular tower but not as high. Nash also incorporated part of the original castle, the Gothic chapel-like building as a library at the north west intersection, comprising of a crenellated sandstone structure with square towers. In addition, the drawing-room window consists of a uniqueset of six-intersecting arches. Meanwhile the garden door is recessed in a Saxon arch framed by zigzag mouldings. The entrance has a narrow flight of stairs leading to the vestibule, beyond which lies the main hall, which has a return stone staircase. The dining room is an oval design, while the drawing room is laid out in an elongated octagon fashion, appearing much larger by the use of large mirrors in the short corner walls. Extensive stables, out-houses and labourers cottages were built on the demesne, and on completion of the residential quarters Colonel Stewart had the 585 acres (2.37 km2) of the Killymoon demesne enclosed by a wall 10 to 12 feet (3.7 m) high. Entrance to the demesne was by way of four stone lodges and avenues at various points along the boundary wall.[1]

The Killymoon estate remained the property of the Stewart family for six generations until the family fell on hard times especially during the years of the Great Famine. Colonel William’s great-grandson Henry T. Clements sold the Killymoon estate in 1852 for nearly £100,000. In 1857 the castle was sold to the Cooper family, and in 1865 to Colonel Bolton, an English gentleman. Ten years later Mervyn Stuart Thomas Moutray JP became the owner of Killymoon Castle until 1916, when Gerald Macura bought the castle and town of Cookstown for almost £100,000. By 1918 Macura was also in financial difficulties and had to sell off his assets. Hence, in 1922 John Coulter bought the castle and grounds for the princely sum of £100. The castle remains the home of the Coulter family.

The parkland of the castle is now an 18 hole golf course, Killymoon Golf Club, which has hosted British tournaments.


  1. ^ a b "Killymoon Castle (Extracts from the Dungannon and Cookstown list by R Oram and P J Rankin, published by the UAHS in 1971)". Ulster Architectural Heritage Society.


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