Raphoe Castle as it stands today
Funding of €30,000 has been secured for a conservation management plan for the Bishop’s Palace, also known as Raphoe Castle.
The last meeting of the Lifford-Stranorlar Municipal District heard that the Raphoe Community In Action group has successfully secured funding for this plan.
The funds will see Dublin conservation architect firm Howley, Hayes and Cooney complete the work.
No starting date is yet announced.
Councillors were told that the owners of the castle are in agreement with the planned work.
Raphoe Castle, originally known as the Bishop's Palace, was built by John Leslie in 1637, four years after he was translated from the Scottish See of the Isles to become the Bishop of Raphoe.
He put it up on a hill overlooking the town using stone from an ancient Round Tower. This proved fortuitous when rebellion broke out in 1641 and the Bishop was forced to shelter in the “castle”, as it has come to be known until relieved by the Lagganeer army.
Eight years later, Leslie, a Royalist was besieged by Cromwellian troops. This time, he was forced to surrender but unlike virtually every other bishop in Ireland, Leslie survived and was returned to his See at the Restoration in 1660.
The castle was attacked again, this time by the United Irishmen, three of whom were killed. The castle was destroyed in an accidental fire in 1838.
The structure and its potential going forward were first raised by Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr at a Lifford-Stranorlar MD meeting back in February when he expressed dismay that the rich historical features of the district were not being promoted to the fullest extent.
Speaking at that meeting he said east Donegal may not have the beaches the other district had but it could offer a unique tourism experience and called on the council's Economic Development Unit to explore ways it could bring the Lifford-Stranorlar on a par with the focus other areas received.
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