Quintin Castle is one of the very few occupied Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland. The castle was built by John de Courcy in 1184 and it was later occupied by the Savage family and their dependents, the Smiths. In the 17th century Sir James Montgomery, then living at Rosemount, Greyabbey, purchased the Quintin estate from Dulaltaigh Smith. His son William, built a walled courtyard and other smaller towers, a large house adjacent to the central tower and a great kitchen to the seaward side of the castle structure. They then re-roofed the castle and added new floors, all probably before 1659.
The Montgomerys sold the castle to George Ross, but he never lived in the castle, allowing it to become a near ruin. While he lived in The Mount Ross estate a few miles outside of Portaferry. In the early 19th century the castle was inherited by Elizabeth Calvert, a descendant of Ross, and restored in 1850. The central keep was raised, a walkway made within the battlements, a drawing room opened into the inner gardens, and a dining room constructed on the lowest floor of the great tower. Most of the grounds were also enclosed by a massive stone wall.
Eventually the estate was purchased by the Burgess family, who lived in Quintin from the early 1930s until the 1950s. Skeets Martin, an auctioneer from Belfast, and his wife, then occupied the castle until the early 1970s. In 1978 the castle was opened as a private old people's home, which it remained for many years until sold into private ownership. The castle has been extensively refurbished by McGimpsey and Kane Builders, changing hands most recently in late 2006. The latest owner had trouble with upkeep, in particular paying of renovation works, forcing the castle into the hands of administrators in 2012. In June 2013 Quintin Castle was sold to the Tayto Group, which in July 2016 applied for permission to use the Castle as an 8-bedroom private function venue for weddings, visiting customers, training and conferences.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.