Doe Castle targeted by vandals twice last year

DOE Castle, one of Donegal’s most historic sites, was hit by vandals twice last year.

Information provided by the Office of Public Works (OPW) shows that infrastructure at the heritage site had to be repaired after an implement was used to cut through bars.

The incident was among 51 acts of vandalism carried out at, or involving, OPW sites in 2022.


Built in the 1420s, Doe Castle was the medieval stronghold of the MacSweeneys. For almost 200 years the fortress on the shores of Sheephaven Bay served as home, refuge and bastion for at least 13 MacSweeney chiefs – some of whom were party and witness to the most seismic events of Irish history.

Today it is a busy tourist attraction, drawing thousands of visitors annually.

But on June 1 last year it drew the attention of some unwanted guests who damaged a grille over a pit. The area around the pit had to be secured until a replacement grating could be put in place.

Days later, on June 7, the castle was targeted again, this time with even more menace. According to the OPW the bars over a grille leading to a staircase were cut. The matter was reported to An Garda Síochana the following day but no arrests were made.

A spokesman for the OPW told journalist Noel Baker and the Irish Times that extensive security measures are in place across heritage sites under its care and where deemed necessary are designed to be proportionate to address “a real, pressing and substantial problem”.

“A number of heritage sites, particularly those located in rural settings, can often offer unhindered public access,” they said.

“The installation of security measures in rural settings can pose a challenge in terms of available infrastructure and the visual and physical impact on the site. As such, physical security measures are not always a feasible option.


“The OPW in such instances relies on public support for the protection of the national heritage estate, particularly in being vigilant in reporting damage to monuments.

“Public support is essential to foster greater understanding and appreciation of the need to conserve such an integral part of Ireland’s historic environment.”


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