Abbeyglen Castle was built in 1832 by John d’Arcy of Clifden Castle. It was leased to the then parish priest as Glenowen House. In 1854, it was bought by the Irish Church Mission Society for use as a Protestant Orphanage. It was here the girls were trained for domestic service. The Connemara Orphan Nurseries operated until 1955 when it closed due to financial difficulties. In its final years it became a mixed orphanage with, for example, seven boys and four girls in 1953. These were supported by donations from local patrons plus various investments. After its closure, the building fell derelict and was home to cattle and sheep for some time. The property was purchased by Mr. Padraig Joyce of Clifden and he and his wife operated the Glenowen House Hotel in the 1960’s. The Hughes family interest began in 1969 and, since then they have developed Abbeyglen Castle into one of Connemara’s premier hotels.
The Old Clifden Pier
The Old Clifden Pier is located south of the Castle's grounds. Plans were drawn up for this quay in 1822 by Alexander Nimmo, the then newly appointed engineer for the Western District. (He was also responsible for many of the roads in West Connemara and for laying out the village of roundstone). Due to many delays, the quay was not completed until 1831. For some years, as Clifden prospered, the quay saw ships from London, Liverpool and other English trading ports. However, because of its tidal nature, Clifden quay lost its business to other ports. During its heyday, many goods were exported, mainly wheat, plus fish, seaweed, etc. Imports included salt, hemp, and iron.
The d’Arcy Monument
The d’Arcy Monument is located to the west of the Castle's grounds. John d’arcy, the founder of Clifden and the builder of Clifden Castle, died in 1839. In that same year, work was begun on a monument in his memory. Although local folklore says d’Arcy himself began such a memorial, it is likely that the project was instigated by the first citizens of Clifden. The work was not completed due to lack of funds. Records show another attempt was made to finish construction in 1870, but this failed also. The monument remained incomplete until the spring of 1992 when the local heritage restored and capped the monument.
One mile up the Sky Road is the entrance to Clifden Castle. The castle was built by John d’arcy between 1812 and 1815. It was the first building of an ambitious scheme to found a new town, Clifden. The d’Arcy estate prospered for about 30 years but, along with many others, was financially ruined by the Great Famine of 1845/48. The castle then passed to the Eyre family of Bath who held mortgages on the estate. The Eyres opened the burial ground north of the castle and interred three of their children there. Tenants were also allowed to bury their infants there. After the death in 1894 of the last Eyre occupier, the castle was abandoned and since then has fallen into ruin.