Northburg Castle, better known as ‘Greencastle’, is one of the few remaining examples of Norman architecture in the Lough Foyle area. It was built at the mouth of the lough in 1305 by the powerful Anglo-Irish nobleman, Richard de Burgh.
De Burgh – the `Red Earl’ – controlled virtually the whole of Ireland, apart from Inishowen and Tir Connail which belonged to the O’Doherty and O’Donnell clans. Northburg was an imposing structure, towering almost 15 metres above sea level and with walls over three metres thick.
In 1316, it was captured by Edward Bruce – younger brother of Robert the Bruce – during the latter’s war against the English. The Bruce’s Irish campaign effectively ended two years later with Edward’s defeat and death at the Battle of Faughart, after which de Burgh reclaimed Northburg.
The de Burgh earldom collapsed by the middle of the fourteenth century, heralding the end of Norman power, and Northburg fell first into O’Doherty hands and eventually into disrepair.
The ruin, which is now in the care of the Irish Government, is at the edge of Greencastle fishing port, close to an 18-hole golf course, and metres away from the Magilligan-Greencastle ferry terminal. The castle is accessible to the public although there are no visitor facilities.