From the 17th Century until the 1950s, Bellingham Castle was the ancestral home of the Bellingham family. During the Civil War, Sir Henry Bellingham, a cornet in the Army, built the original castle around 1690, and the purchase of land was confirmed by King Charles II. The castle was occupied by troops and was burned down in 1689 by King James II, in revenge for Colonel Thomas Bellingham being a guide for William III, prior to the Battle of the Boyne. Allegedly King William’s armies camped the night before the Battle of the Boyne on the grounds of the castle. Castlebellingham became an important meeting point in the county, and the Bellingham’s became one of the most powerful and influential families in the county; for over 100 years, a Bellingham held the seat in Parliament for County Louth. Records also note Castle Bellingham for having ‘the best malt liquor’ in Ireland. A brewery was built on site about 1770 and belonged to an O’Bryen Bellingham, and the brewery was the main supplier of drink to the Boer War troops.
Henry Bellingham – Born in 1626, Married Lucy Sibthorpe, and Died 1676 in Gernonstowne, Ireland
Located at the gateway to the Cooley mountains on the banks of the River Glyde, Bellingham Castle and its impressive 17 acres of land are quite simply steeped in history. Serving as an ancestral home for just under three centuries, Bellingham Castle was originally built in 1690 by Sir Henry Bellingham – a cavalry officer who first came to Ireland during the English Civil War. Also regarded as having the best malt liquor in Ireland, the original brewery built in 1770 – which was the main supplier of drink to the Boer War troops – still stands to this day.
Towards the end of the 17th century, Sir Henry moved to the mediaeval village of Castlebellingham in County Louth, Ireland, following the Cromwellian Settlement, in which a large amount of native Irish lands were given to Englishmen in reward for their service. Although Bellingham Castle remained the ancestral home of the Baronetcy until the end of the 20th century, many of its unique architectural features date back to the time of Sir Henry, including a remarkable Calvary built in memory of his first wife, Lady Constance. In addition, there remains evidence of Sir Henry’s religious sentiments – which were somewhat unique in Ireland – with religious panels and biblical quotations cut into the stone walls of certain ancient buildings.
Over time, Bellingham Castle became a notable location within Ireland as the Bellinghams became one of the most powerful families in the county, holding a certain amount of political and social influence. Many figures within the family served in the Armed Forces and worked closely with the royal family; however, their allegiances led to disaster in 1689, when the castle was occupied and burnt down by King James II. The violent attack was said to have been carried out in revenge for Colonel Thomas Bellingham being a guide for King William III, whose armies are thought to have camped in the grounds of the castle the night before the Battle of the Boyne.
In 1905, Bellingham Castle was the focal point of County Louch for a more positive reason, as it was the venue of the wedding between Augusta Mary Monica Bellingham, daughter of Sir Alan Bellingham, and the 4th Marquis of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart. As the Marquis was one of the wealthiest men in the British Isles at the time, no expense was spared in this lavish celebration, with guests being transported to the wedding on the Princess Maud steamer while being serenaded by the Isle of Bute pipe band. The wedding was undoubtedly the society event of the year, attracting global media attention.
When Bellingham Castle was purchased by Dermot Meehan in 1958, it began its life as a hotel following extensive and meticulous restoration. After being sold once more in the 20th century, it was finally acquired by the Corscadden family. Under their careful stewardship, the castle has flourished into an unrivalled venue that exudes splendour and opulence and honours its rich heritage.