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Glenveagh Castle.

Glenveagh Castle.

Caisleán Ghleann Bheatha

Glenveigh Castle was built by Captain John George Adair (1823-1885), a native of Co Laois, the four storey rectangular keep castle was built between 1870 and 1873 in the Scottish Baronial style, it stands within the Glenveagh National Park near Churchill and Gweedore, County Donegal. The castle stands in an estate which once extended to 165.4 km² (40,873 acres)

Adair made much of his fortune in the United States where he supplied the capital for a ranch in the Palo Duro Canyon of the Texas Panhandle. In its peak year in 1883, the JA Ranch encompassed 1,335,000 acres (5,400 km2) in portions of six Texas counties and boasted 100,000 head of cattle.

In 1869 Adair had married Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie, a daughter of James S. Wadsworth, a Union General in the American Civil War. On returning to Ireland Adair bought up large tracts of land in Donegal where they set about building a castle and estate on the shores of Lough ???, it was his ambition to surpass Balmoral, Queen Victoria's Scottish retreat.

Before he could accomplish this he found it necessary to evict 47 families consisting of 224 people from the estate mainly for aesthetic reasons but also to settle a grudge he harboured for the people, it is hardly surprising that Adair is not fondly thought of in Donegal's folk memory.

In 1937/8 the estate was bought by Henry Plumer McIlhenny of Philadelphia, who's grandfather had been an Irish immigrant who invented the gas meter, bringing the family an immense fortune. McIlhenny served in the American Navy during World War II, after which he used the castle as a second home, during this period many famous Americans were entertained at Glenveagh Castle including Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and Greta Garbo.

In 1975/5 McIlhenny sold the bulk of the land to The Irish State for the setting up of a national park. In 1979 he made a gift of Glenveagh Castle and gardens to the Irish State on condition he retained the right to live there during the remainder of his life, he died in Philadelphia on 11th May 1986.

Today the estate is known as Glenveagh National Park, it boasts the largest herd of wild red deer in Ireland and perhaps in Europe.