Graystown Castle

An old castle stands in ruins on the road from Moyglass to Graystown and it is called Graystown Castle. It is mentioned in Gough’s Camden as being in ruins and situated near Killynaul. It is built on a limestone rock of considerable height on west and north sides and sustaining on one extremely the north-west angle of the building.
The original castle was probably built around 1170, by a man named Raymond Le Gros who was a Norman. From the word ‘Gros’ we got we get the name Graystown or Baile Le Gros as it is known in Irish.
However, the present ruins can hardly be older than the 16th century. It is described in the Civil survey (1654) as follows “Upon this land standeth a good castle, a slate house wantinge repaire with a large bawne and severall cabbins”.

Graystown Castle - Photo David Moloney.

Henry Laffan who was an official of the Butler Family, acquired considerable property in Co. Tipperary at the beginning of the 14th century. In 1305 he got 120 acres in Graystown from Geruase De Raley. This Henry Laffan was said to be the first of the Laffan Family, whose chief seat was in Graystown from then on. In 1521, Thomas Laffan, Lord of Ballingarry, granted to the Earl of Ormonde, the land of Ballinure. He was probably dead before 1524, in which year James Laffan of Graystown was one of the freeholders of Tipperary, who complained to King Henry VIII of the extortions, coyne and livery levied on them by Sir James Butler of Kiltinan and Sir Edmond Butler of Cahir as dupties of the Earl of Ormonde. James Laffan died in 1607.
In 1613, Thomas Laffan of Graystown was a member of Parliament  for Tipperary. The proprietor of Graystown and Noan, 3200 acres in 1640, was Henry Laffan of Graystown while Marcus Laffan, his son, apparently held the remainder of the family property in Lurgoe, 640 acres. Henry was dead before 1649, for Marcus was found in Graystown in that year and was a Commissioner for the levying of troops and taxes in Slieveardagh. Marcus was transplanted to Connaught where he was alotted 1184 acres.
The Cromwellian grantee of Graystown was Gyles Cooke. He held the title of the area in 1659 and had two hearths there in 1665 (Petty Cenus Money Records).
It was a rectangular building constructed of limestone and lime and sand mortar which contained five storeys. The walls were grouted and bevelled below and were about sixty feet high and seven feet three inches thick at the archway on the west wall and three feet ten inches at the doorway on the east wall. Of the whole structure, two parts of the west side above, which consisted of parts of the west wall, the west part of the stone arch on which a floor rested, parts of the north and south walls, fell entirely to ruin, and the stones are out of the western part below the exterior. On the interior, the building measures from the west wall to entrance, to the ground floor on the east side, twenty three feet three inches by fifteen feet eight and three quarter inches from north to south.
There are two entrances; one from the doorway on the east wall and one from the foot of the stairs into the ground floor. These are archways of masonwork and are now battered everywhere. They supported a chamber, placed over them at the east wall. On the west wall of the chamber are three doorways, one being placed in the south-east angle, pointed and constructed of chiselled limestone, opening from the stairs to the first floor above the ground one; the other two being square and constructed of coarsely dressed limestone and partly of undressed stonework, which latter forms the south one with exception of its north side, which consists of coarsely dressed limestone, both opening into the second floor above the ground one and next to the stone arch.
On the extremity of the rock at the east end of the castle stands a stone wall, and to the south-east of the castle stands the east gable of a mansion house with a chimney at the top part of the watch tower at the south-east corner and two portions of the sidewalls attached to it, all built of limestone, lime and sand mortar. The gable is twenty three feet long on the interior, being thicker in the lower part than above by a course of stonework which terminates at the fireplace under the flue. It has three quadrangular openings which are masonwork inside and chiselled limestone outside. Only two feet in length of the sidewalls below, being of greater length above, now remain.
Today it lies in ruins like many of its counterparts throughout the country. One of the remaining walls is thirty feet high and it is believed that from the top of this wall, on a clear day one can see for miles around. It is not hard to imagine the ease with which Le Gros could defeat trouble. The stones from the ruins are spread around the field in which it is situated. The ruins themselves are in very dangerous condition and are almost impossible to climb.Graystown Castle


– The History & Folklore of Killenaule/Moyglass 1990