For a small town, Dungiven has quite a few splendid
buildings to boast about. Apart from Pelipar House and the
Dungiven Priory with O'Cahan's tomb, the visitor may also
this splendid 19th century castle.
The gardens at the back of the building cover 22 acres and the public has free access via a small door on the left of the castle. Whilst the front view of the building is rather disappointing, due to a huge barn obscuring most of the front elevation, the view from the gardens - seen above - is rather impressive.
The history of the castle is difficult to trace and quite confusing. The clan of the O'Cahans had a castle in Dungiven in the 17th century, but it was on the Dungiven Priory site and not in Dungiven town itself. Between 1688 and 1691 this castle was almost destroyed so the Carey family, who lived in the place on behalf of the Skinners Company decided to move into the town castle. At the time this was described as an old brick house.
During the 18th century Henry Carey built the first version of the town castle which after his death fell quickly into disrepair. The present building dates largely from 1836, when Robert Ogilby - egged on by the Skinners Company who owned the land around Dungiven - started building the present two storey establishment. It was built very quickly and cost the astonishing sum of 2000 Pounds.. Unfortunately Robert Ogilby died in 1839 and work on the building stopped. The new owner - Leslie Ogilby - had no interest in the castle and never finished the interior work.
When he died, the Skinners were so disgusted with the sight of the place, that they sued the Ogilby's trustees for 4500 Pounds - but only managed to be awarded 100 Pounds. Mind you, they didn't finish the job either and sold it around 1890 to another Ogilby, by name of Robert Alexander. As the Ogilbys owned the rather splendid Pelipar, it is doubtful whether they made much use of this sad ancestral pile.
In 1902 Dungiven Castle was inherited by the last of the Ogilbys - a military man who lived in London and had no interest in the place whatsoever and sold it in 1925. To cut a long story short, after various tenants had let the place fall into wreck and ruin yet again, Limavady council bought it and promptly decided to knock it down.
There was a public outcry and with the help of various funding bodies, enough money was secured to finally put the neglected building into good repair. The result of all this confusing toing and froing can be admired in our photograph above. Notice the rather untypical splendid weather.
We end this little tribute with a view from the gardens looking South over the rolling countryside around Dungiven.
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