Castle Balfour, built for Sir James Balfour of Glenawley by about 1620, was one of many castles designed to secure the plantation in Ulster during the 17th century. It is of the Scottish-style strong house type, identifiable by such characteristic features as corbelled stair turrets and parapets, high pitched gables and tall chimneys.
In 1619 Captain Nicholas Pynnar described Castle Balfour which was just being built, as 'a Bawne of Lime and Stone 70 ft square, of which two sides are raised 15 feet high. There is also a castle of the same length, of which the one half is built two storeys high, and is to be three storeys and a half high.' It was also described as being both 'strong and beautiful'.
During the civil war of 1641-42, the castle and town of Lisnaskea were burnt but later reoccupied. In 1689 the castle was once again destroyed by the Jacobite armies but was repaired after the Williamite victory at Limerick. About 1780 the castle was passed on to the Creightons of Crom, after the Balfours left Fermanagh, and was again destroyed by fire in 1803. When placed in state care in 1960, the castle was in a very dangerous condition but it was consolidated by careful reconstruction and conservation during 1962-66.
The hypothetical reconstruction [image] shows the remaining part of the castle and the now destroyed East Wing, which was described as having been built across the end of the church. The position of this church is not known for certain but it is likely to have been in the graveyard just to the north of the present parish church. The whole complex would have been enclosed within bawl walls with flanker towers at each corner to defend them, and would have been entered by a gate, probably in the north wall of the bawn.
A further notice will be found inside the castle.
This monument is in the care of Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch of the Department of the Environment (NI). It is an offence under the Historic Monuments Act (1971) to injure or interfere with it in any way.