A Guide To Visiting The ‘Hidden’ Menlo Castle In Galway

menlo castle galway
Photo left by Lisandro Luis Trarbach on Shutterstock. Photo right by Simon Crowe via Ireland's Content Pool

The mighty menlo castle in Galway is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland.

It’s definitely one of the most frequently overlooked, anyway. Located a short distance from the city, it’s one of the most popular castles in Galway and it’s arguably the most popular of the handful of castles near Galway City.

In the guide below, you’ll find out about its history, the directions to Menlo Castle and how to see it from the water on some very unique tours!

Some quick need-to-knows about Menlo Castle in Galway

menlo castle in galway
Photo by Lisandro Luis Trarbach (Shutterstock)

A visit to Menlo Castle is overly straightforward, but it is possible, once you know where to go and what to look for.

1. Location

Located a 40-minute walk from the centre of Galway City, Menlo Castle is an abandoned ruin of a 16th-century castle. There are no signs in front of the ruins, no guided tours, and you’ll need to jump over a metal gate to get in.

2. Safety (please read!)

In a lot of guides to visiting Menlo Castle in Galway, people recommend that you walk there from the city. While this is possible, it isn’t safe, as you need to walk along narrow roads without a path, in places, to get there. If you don’t have a car, get a taxi!

3. Parking

There’s no dedicated parking for Menlo Castle, so you’ll have to 1, use your best judgement and 2, be respectful/careful and not block gates into houses.

It should go without saying that you should never park on a bend or at a blind spot. There’s room to pull in safely near the gate entrance (info below).

A Brief History of Menlo Castle

mgettomg to menlo castle
Photo by Mark McGaughey via Wikipedia Commons

Not all stories have happy endings and the story of Menlo Castle is one of those. Menlo Castle was home to the Blakes, one of the richest families in Galway in the 16th century.

The family lived on the property from 1600 to 1910. During this time, the family made some renovations and added a lovely Jacobean mansion to the property. 

A tragic event

Unfortunately, a terrible event occurred in 1910 when a fire engulfed Menlo Castle and three lives were sadly lost.

Eleanor, the daughter of Lord and Lady Blake was inside her room on July 26th when the building was gutted by the fire. At the time, her parents were in Dublin.

Two maids tried to save themselves by jumping out of the window but didn’t succeed. No trace of Eleanor’s body was ever found at the property.

More tragedy

After the fire, only the walls of Menlo Castle remained, while carpets, paintings, and other precious items were destroyed.

Soon after the fire, Menlo Castle was inherited by Mr. Ulick Blake. A few years later, Ulick was found dead in his car and there’s little clarity about what happened to him.

Getting from Galway City to Menlo Castle

Like I mentioned before, there are no signs in front of Menlo Castle. Therefore, it can be a bit of an adventure finding these ruins if you’re not familiar with the area.

The easiest way to find Menlo Castle is by sticking the address into Google Maps and zooming in where the road ends (i.e. the closest point to the castle where you can drop the little yellow man).

You’ll find a gate here that you can hop over. There’s a clear trail to the castle from here to follow, so you can’t go wrong.

Unique ways to see Menlo Castle

lough corrib scenic drive
Photo by Lisandro Luis Trarbach on Shutterstock

Travellers who wish to see Menlo Castle in Galway from a different perspective have two options: Option 1 is to hop on the Corrib Princess Tour Boat.

It leaves from Woodquay in Galway and it’ll take you along the River Corrib. The tour passes by many interesting attractions and offers magnificent views of the ruins.

River Corrib Greenway Path is an excellent place to enjoy spectacular views of Menlo Castle from across the river. 

Places to visit near Menlo Castle in Galway

Galway City
Photo by Luca Fabbian (Shutterstock)

One of the beauties of Menlo Castle is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other brilliant places to visit and things to do (see our guide on what to do in Galway for loads of ideas!).

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Menlo Castle (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Spanish Arch

spanish arch galway
Photo left via Google Maps. Photo right by Stephen Power

Rooted in Medieval times, the arch was built in 1584, but has its origins in the 12th century Norman-built town wall. And, even though a tsunami partially destroyed the Spanish Arch in 1755, there’s still enough left to have a good gawk at.

2. Food, pubs and live music

the front door pub galway
Photo via the Front Door pub on Facebook

If you’re feeling peckish (or thirsty!) after visiting the Galway City Museum, there’s plenty of places to eat and drink nearby. Here’s some guides to jump into:

3. Salthill

things to do in salthill
Photo left: Lisandro Luis Trarbach. Photo right: mark_gusev (Shutterstock)

The town of Salthill is another fine spot to escape to, if you fancy seeing a bit of the Galway coastline. It’s a 30-50-minute walk out to Salthill and it’s well worth the visit.

There’s loads of things to do in Salthill and there’s plenty of great restaurants in Salthill to nip into if you’re hungry.

4. Galway Museum

Photo via Galway City Museum on Facebook

Established in 1976 in a former private home, The Galway City Museum is a folk museum that houses a considerable number of artifacts related to the fishing industry that played such a central part of the city’s history and development. 

A thirsty travel writer with a passion for weird street food, Aperol spritz, and tropical islands.

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