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Some Irish language scholars believe that the original Gaelic place name of Castlewellan is ’CAISLEAN AN MHUILINN’ to mean ‘Castle of the Mill’. Others believe it was named after the Irish family who preceded the Magennis clan. They were called Mc Quillan and would have predated the mills by a considerable way.

In the 16th century Castlewellan was a stronghold and one of the chief seats of the Magennis family. Under James I it was forfeited to the Crown, but later Phelim Magennis was granted 11 townlands in the parishes of Kilmegan and Kilcoo, constituting the Manor of Castlewellan. Magennis could also hold a Court at the Manor and in return for the granting of lands and honours guaranteed allegiance to the King. After the rebellion of 1641 his estate was again forfeited and subsequently again restored.

The lands at Castlewellan passed into the possession of the Annesley family in 1742 when they were purchased from Arthur Magennis though the family had previously resided there for some years on lease. In 1747 he also bought the old castle to build a hotel on it, but he eventually developed another property, Donard Lodge, as a hotel instead.

The Magennis family of Upper Iveagh owned the property around Tollymore and Castlewellan for many years before 1611. By professing allegiance to different groups that had power in Ireland from time to time they generally retained their possession of these lands.

Felix Magennis built a castle at the mouth of the River Shimna, now known as Newcastle. There is record of a castle being sited there as far back as 1433. The castle was to protect the Magennis lands from the raids of the outlaw marauders who loved in the Mournes.




  • Sources:

1. Castlewellan Forest Park -
2. GAA World Club Website -
3. Tollymore -

Copyright © 1998-2004 - My Family's Heart Genealogy All information contained within these pages are the personal property of Ruth Ann (nee McGinnis) Gauthier and Tonya Rena (nee Gauthier) Kellum. We kindly ask that you please not take anything from these pages without our written consent first. Much of this information was generously shared with us by other researches and has been so noted. That information is being used with their permission. Thank you kindly!!