12 min walk from The Periwinkle B&B (Bed & Breakfast accommodation, Galway City).
Lynch’s Castle is located on the northwest corner of Shop Street and Abbeygate Street, and is a fine example of a town castle. Town castles were popular homes for wealthy merchants in Ireland in the 15th and 16th centuries.The Lynch family were first among the 14 Tribes in power.
The earliest recorded member of the family is Thomas de Linch, provost of Galway 1274. Moreover, the name Lynch features prominently in all surviving records of Galway life from the 13th Century onwards.The family were instrumental in wrestling the town from the lordship of the Burkes and setting it on the path to independence. Also, they were almost entirely responsible for the instrument of Autonomy, the Charter of Mayoralty granted by King Richard 111 in London in 1484 and so a Lynch became the first Mayor of Galway and in total 64 individual Lynches have occupied the office of Mayor of Galway since that time.
The castle has been beautifully restored over the years. In fact it is the only medieval building left intact and in present day use in Galway, it is now used as a bank. The castle contains beautiful stone carvings on the exterior along with a number of decorative windows and dates back to the late 15th century.On the Abbeygate side it has two harness like half arches with round holes parallel to the window. The holes once contained wooden beams, which were used to haul up furniture too large to come through the door. It has been in use for various commercial purposes since atleast the early 1800’s, and in 1930 was bought by Allied Irish Banks, who undertook a programme of restoration. In the course of the renovations they discovered an early 17th century fireplace, which has been re erected in the vestibule.
Lynch’s Castle is one of Galway’s great treasures, most of us pass by without a second glance, but it is worth taking a few minutes to pause and look at the wonderful carvings, and to wander into the vestibule and look at the amount of Galway history on display on its walls.
The most well known story concerning the Lynch family is the connection with Mayor James Lynch Fitz Stephen, who is alleged to have hung his own son after being found guilty of murdering a young Spaniard who winked at his girlfriend, in the 1490’s. However those suspicions of the veracity of the incident which is said to have taken place at what is now a free standing wall with a pointed window adjacent to St Nicholas’ graveyard, have pointed out that the date of the stone =work is wrong for the period in which the story is set. Moreover, there is no record of such an event, because as was pointed out some years ago “you can’t hang a 15th century man out of a 16th century window”! Many of us still believe that that is the origin of the word “lynching”.