The town is famous for Portumna Castle and for the lords that lived there. The castle is actually a great semi-fortified house and was built before 1618 by Richard Burke or de Burgo, the 4th Earl of Clanricarde. It was the main seat of the de Burgo family for over 200 years, until it was gutted by fire in 1826.
Following extensive conservation and restoration work, the ground floor of the castle is now open to the public. The conservation works on other parts of the castle are ongoing. To the north of the castle are formal, geometrically laid out gardens. There are also exhibitions in the castle itself and the Gate House. The castle now also includes the recently restored 17th century walled kitchen garden. Following its original plan the garden has been organically planted with fruit trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables.
The castle is scenically located about 200 metres North of Portumna (or 'New') Harbour on Lough Derg, with Portumna Forest Park to the West and the town of Portumna about 300 metres to the North and East.
As with many historic buildings a number of local legends have grown up around the castle. One local legend goes that a child fell out of the upper windows. An irish wolf hound raced to break the childs fall and saved the child. A marker stone now rests on the site.
Portumna is currently served with a five-span road bridge over the Shannon. This was designed by C. E. Stanier of London, and completed in 1911, with a central section resting on Hayes's Island which divides the river into two channels. The steel structure of the main bridge and pivotting swing bridge over the navigation channel are of technical and engineering interest, and it is the largest early-twentieth century swivel bridge in Europe.
The Shannon at this point consists of two channels divided by Hayes Island, the one on the North Tipperary side being about 79 m (260 ft) wide, and that on the Galway side being about 73 m (240 ft) wide. Each channel is spanned by three pairs of mild-steel plate girders, either 24 m (80 ft) or 27 m (90 ft) in length, resting on 3 m (9 ft) diameter concrete-filled cast-iron cylinders.
Waterways Ireland has commenced works to refurbish the bridge. During the works, the bridge (and, as a result, the N65 road) will be closed for approximately 9 days from Friday 24th of October to midnigth Sunday 2nd November 2008. This will likely cause serious inconvenience for the users of the bridge coming from the south and east of the country, and traffic will now have to use alternative routes through Banagher and Eyrecourt.
The Roman Catholic church and the church of Ireland church (Protestant) stand on opposite sides of the road, seemingly guarding the town like two great big sentinnals as you approach from the west/south.
The catholic church is actually only from the 1950's, but seems to look much older. Holding 900 people and with (very unusual in ireland) a seperate bell tower, it is worth a short wander. Impressive ceiling as well.
Lough Derg is about 30 miles from North to south, with Portumna being the most northerly point.
There are the full rage of the normal sorts of activities you would expect on a place, which is almost an inland sea.
Boating, sailing and angling all abound as well as walking, cycling -obviously around the lake rather than on it, unless you happen to be Jesus.
A throughly beautiful area to visit - and one that is often overlooked by foreign visitors.
If trees are your thing, then you won't be disappointed by the Forest Park. It surrrounds the castle (see other tip) and backs on to the northern edge of Loch Derg.
There are a number of well-marked walks and the different types of trees are all labelled.
I especially liked the 'yew walk' , only a few hundred yards long between the proddy church and the castle
Peaceful and uplifting - i'll think i will go and hug a tree now....
Just by the side of the town lies Portumna castle. It looks more like a stately home than a castle. It was built in the early 17th century by Richard de Burgo. It was the main seat of the de Burgo family for over 200 years - from where they built the walls and trading port of Galway. Disaster struck when the the place was gutted by fire in 1826. They were an Anglo-norman family, but in time it is said they 'became more irish than the irish themselves' - and thus changed their name to 'Burke'.
The ground floor of the house is now open to the public. You will also find geometrically laid out gardens together with exhibitions in the castle and Gate House. (Conservation works are ongoing.) Portumna Castle now also includes the recently restored 17th century walled kitchen garden. The garden has been organically planted with fruit trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables.
In my country, they do not deliver the milk anymore, so for me it was lovely to see the milk standing by the front door, but what was more funny was the emplty beer glass standing next to it.
Walking around the town, you will find many interesting shop windows, architect and just some lovely sights. Enjoy your walk
When you enter Portumna from the south, you cannot help but be overwelmed by the two churches, The Roman Catholic church and the church of Ireland church that stand on opposite sides of the road
The catholic church is actually only from the 1950's, but seems to look much older. Holding 900 people and with a seperate bell tower