Nationally known today for the sport of kings, still (it is suggested) horse racing, Gowran was for a time the seat of kings, the Kings of Ossory. When the fortunes of the Ossory rullng family the MacGiolla-Phadruig, declined in the 12th century, the town and lands came into the hands of the norman knight, FitzWalter, the ancestor of the Butler Earls of Ormond. Edward Bruce of Scotland in his essay at power in Ireland captured Gowran in 1317 and during the many battles in the next century against the Norman overlords, Gowran was burned to the ground. It was made a parliamentary borough and given a new charter in 1608 by James I. Gowran was a confederate stronghold in 'The Great Rebellion' but it was besieged and captured by Cromwell's troops in 1650. With customary efficiency they then burned down the castle and shot the surrendered garrison. Gowran's old church has in part been utilised in the Church of Ireland parish church and its many interesting features and monuments will reward a visit. In the grounds of today's Gowran Castle is the keep or enclosure of Ballyshawnmore Castle, also invested by Cromwell's troops in 1650.
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