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O'Dohertys Keep

History of O'Doherty's Keep

O'Doherty's Keep is the only remains of a once-much-larger Norman castle built after 1333. In the year 1601, the Keep was inhabited by Conor McGarret O'Doherty. In the next year, 1602, the Keep saw third story added by Hugh Boy O'Doherty in preparation to serve as a base for promised military aid from Spain. Afterward, Sir Cahir O'Doherty occupied the keep for some time. However, during the O'Doherty Rebellion in 1608, the Keep was burned by the English as retribution for the burning of Derry. A collection of swords, daggers, and pike heads were discovered underneath the Keep by Harry Swan in the early 1900s and are believed to have belonged to Sir Cahir O'Doherty.


After Sir Cahir's death, the keep was granted to Sir Arthur Chichester, who leased it to Henry Vaughn. The Vaughn family repaired the Keep and lived there until 1718, when they built the adjacent manor house, now known as "Buncrana Castle", (which remains a private residence today). Nestled amongst the trees in beautiful Swan Park at Buncrana , the Keep guards the inlet of the River Crana on Lough Swilly. The Castle Bridge, built in 1718, sits adjacent to a 600 year old cobbled fording point of the Crana River which was uncovered by a flood in 2017 (Inishowen Independent).

O'Doherty's Keep Today

Our clansman, Ronan O'Doherty, has been doing a wonderful job in his work to restore O'Doherty's Keep, which is actually owned by his family. He freely welcomes visitors from all over the world. Visit his site,, to learn more about O'Doherty's Keep and donate to support the restoration work! Also, be sure to like them on Facebook!

Click the thumbnails below to open the photos in a larger viewer!

Video and still images of O’ Doherty Keep by Inishowen Breaks.

Patricia Stratford from the Carrickabraghy Restoration Society giving a talk on the history of the O’ Doherty clann, the Keep in Buncrana, and its connection with Carrickabraghy Castle.

Other Resources to Check out

Archaeological Impact Report on Buncrana, including information on the O'Doherty Keep and other fortresses.

Other pages on the Keep: Inishowen Breaks | Curious Ireland | Monreagh Heritage

Monument Information

O'Doherty's Keep is under the guardianship of the National Monument Service as National Monument #435. The archaeological site at Buncrana includes the Keep (RMP# DG029-025001-) and what remains of a bawn (RMP# DG029-025003-). The nearby stone house, 'Buncrana Castle' (RMP# DG029-025002- / NIAH # 40815001) was built in 1718, and the nearby walled garden (Reg. #40815007) and stone bridge (Reg. #40815003) were built near this era, also. (Sources: Historic Environment Viewer and

Visit The Keep!



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