The ruins of the late 18th century Deel Castle, otherwise known as Castle Gore, in County Mayo have featured here before (see Sent Up in Flames « The Irish Aesthete) but rather confusingly the remains of a second, older building with the same name stand close by. The original Deel Castle – which might be classified as the real Deel – is a tower house sitting above the river Deel, thought to date from the 16th century when constructed by the Bourke family, then dominant in this part of the country. Like so many other such buildings, it is rectangular but larger than usual, of four storeys and with a substantial bartizan on the south-west corner of the roofline, above which rise tall, narrow chimneystacks. As is also typical of tower houses, there is only one point of access, a modest arched doorcase on the west side. It remained in the possession of the Bourke family until the late 17th century when, after Colonel Thomas Bourke had fought on the side of King James in the Williamite Wars, the property was forfeited and granted to Sir Arthur Gore.
Born in London, Paul Gore (created a baronet in 1622) had come to Ireland in the late 16th century in the service of Elizabeth I as commander of a troop of horse and eventually settled in County Donegal, representing Ballyshannon for a number of years in the Irish House of Commons. Arthur Gore (created a baronet in 1662) was his second son, and likewise both a soldier and politician, becoming High Sheriff of both Mayo and County Galway, and later of Leitrim. Having settled in Mayo, he received the Bourkes‘ former property, Castle Deel and in due course, his son having predeceased him, passed this to his grandson, also called Arthur Gore. When Mrs Delany visited the place in 1732, she noted, ‘tis an old castle patched up and very irregular, but well fitted up and good handsome rooms within. The master of the house, Arthur Gore, a jolly red-faced widower, has one daughter, a quiet thing that lives in the house with him; his dogs and horses are as dear to him as his children, his laugh is hearty, though his jests are course.’ The second baronet’s son, yet another Arthur, was created Earl of Arran in 1762. It would appear that the family continued to live in Deel Castle but towards the end of the 18th century, the estate was leased to James Cuff, first (and last) Lord Tyrawley who built the now-ruined house within sight of the old castle. Cuff’s mother Elizabeth was a sister of Lord Arran, which helps to explain why he should have been granted a lease on the place. Lord Tyrawley had no legitimate heirs, although he had two illegitimate sons by an actress, one of whom, James Duff, lived in the new Deel Castle until his death in 1828, after which that building reverted back to the third Earl of Arran. As for the old castle, it was occupied by Colonel St George Cuff, thought to have been the illegitimate son of James Cuff; the colonel’s wife Louisa Maria Knox Gore, was descended in the maternal line from the second Earl of Arran, making the family connection clearer. It was only after the colonel’s death in 1883 that the old castle likewise returned to the Gores and remained with them until after 1921 when the new house was burnt by the IRA and left the ruin still seen today.
As already mentioned, the original Deel Castle was a substantial tower house. To the east of this, possibly as early as the 17th century, an extension was built which was probably further improved in the 18th century. A bartizan on the south-east corner of the extension certainly suggests an early date, since it would come from a time when the occupants of the building would consider themselves vulnerable to attack. In any case, this section is of three storeys and five bays, with a limestone Gibbsian doorcase on the groundfloor. The outline of a gable on the eastern side of the facade indicates that a further building once stood here, perhaps to match that which still extends forward immediately beyond the tower house to the west, thereby creating a courtyard in front of the building. Little remains inside either the original or the later structure, the roof long gone, along with the various floors, windows and chimneypieces: the external walls alone now survive. This decay has occurred only in the past 100 years since, unlike its neighbour, Deel Castle was not burnt during the early 1920s but still occupied. Only afterwards was it abandoned, and left to fall into the present state of ruin.