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Kilbrittain Castle, Kilbrittain, County Cork
20850010
View from south
Reg. No.20850010
Date1730 - 1770
Previous NameN/A
TownlandKILBRITTAIN
CountyCounty Cork
Coordinates153091, 47150
Categories of Special InterestARCHITECTURAL ARTISTIC ARCHAEOLOGICAL HISTORICAL SOCIAL
RatingRegional
Original Usecastle/fortified house
In Use Ashouse
Additional Usecountry house
 
Description
Detached multiple period castle, comprising medieval, eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century fabric. Seven-bay three-storey block forming southern range, built c.1750, incorporating medieval tower house, Gothicized c.1830, with the addition of corner turrets, crenellations and perron with inset arches and dovecote leading to entrance at first floor level, having machicolation above. Three-stage block attached to west, with four-stage tower with crenellations, c.1830, to west corner. Five-bay single-storey wing and remains of tower running from west corner to north, forming western range. Burnt and partly rebuilt in early twentieth century. Pitched slate roof to southern range. Crenellated parapets set on string course with carved corbels. Roughly dressed and rubble stone walls. Carved crest to machicolation. Square-headed window openings to front (north), side (east) and rear (south) elevations of southern range and linking tower (north). Dressed stone voussoirs to window openings of front elevation, having tooled stone mullions and transoms to first and second floor windows creating single, double and four-light arrangements. Canted bay windows with dressed stone surrounds, mullions, transoms and corbelled bases to first and second floors south elevation of linking tower. Single- and double-light window openings to ground floor of rear elevation, including one single-light opening, now blocked. Lead-lined lattice work windows. Guardrobe openings to first floor of side (east) elevation and ground floor of rear elevation. Cruciform gun loops to first floor of front elevation. Square-headed loop window openings to bartizan. Tudor arch window openings to rear elevation at ground floor of linking tower, having tooled stone surrounds. Paired lancet window openings to ground floor of front and rear elevations (north, south) with tooled stone surrounds and mullions. Lancet window openings with tooled stone surrounds to first and second stages of corner tower. Lancet window openings to ground floor (west, south) with tooled and dressed surrounds and hood mouldings. Double-light square-headed window opening to rear elevation of first floor. Pointed arch door openings to ground and first floors of front elevation of southern range, ground floor of linking tower (north), front elevation of western range (east) and south elevation of western range. Dressed stone door surrounds and hood mouldings. Dressed stone voussoirs surmounting door openings to front elevation of south range. Reinforced timber battened doors throughout. Recent steel door to linking tower. Square-headed rendered recesses to front (west) elevation of western range, having stone sills. Rubble stone enclosing walls to north with carriage openings to avenue (north) and outbuildings (north-east), having tooled and dressed stone gate piers. Flanking round-headed recesses to main entrance gate with stone sills having dressed impost and keystones. Bawn wall with remains of tower to south-east corner. Outbuildings to north-east.

Appraisal

Dramatically situated on a rise with views in all directions, Kilbrittain Castle is reportedly the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland, dating from as early as 1035 and possible built by the O'Mahonys. The Norman family de Courcy is thought to have occupied and extended the castle. In 1295 when they were defeated by the MacCarthys. A keystone from a fireplace from the lost upper parts of the tower house is now in the grounds of Upton House near Inishannon. It is dated 1556 with a Latin inscription recording the tower as having been built by Donal McCarthy and Margaret Fitzgerald. Also of that period is the circular tower containing several gun loops at the south-east corner of the yard to the east. The castle served as the principal seat of MacCarthy Riabhach from the early 15th century until it was surrendered by a Confederate party in 1642 after attack by ordnance. In the 18th and 19th centuries the Stawell family converted the ruins of the castle into a house that was burnt in 1920. The east end of the south range was restored as a residence in 1969 by inventor Russell Winn. These works included the demolition of a less heavily castellated 18th century range with a Venetian window to one side of the entrance front. The castle, which displays a multitude of features of architectural interest and value, and continues to form a distinctive and impressive landmark in the local countryside.
 
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