Kanturk Castle, Cork, Ireland

The castle at Kanturk, situated in the Blackwater Valley, is a fortified house constructed around 1601 for MacDonagh McCarthy as a defence against English Settlers. However it appears the castle was never actually completed as news of its construction reach the Privy Council in England, and uneasy about it being used as a base to attack English settlers building work ceased. Its unclear whether MacDonagh McCarthy halted construction out of fear, the Irish were already on the back foot after the disastrous Battle of Kinsale, or due to being unable to borrow money from English moneylenders to complete the build. According to legend MacDonagh was so furious when he realised his house would never be completed he smashed all the blue ceramic roof-tiles and threw them in a nearby stream. The stream then became known as the Bluepool Stream because of the reflection of the tiles through the water. The castle passed into the hands of Dermot McCarthy who in turn mortgaged it in 1641 to Sir Philip Perceval. Perceval took out many of the fixtures and fireplaces to furnish his other properties, and the castle was never completed.

The ruin at Kanturk is rectangular in shape with square towers at each of its corners. The main block has only four stories, each of the towers have five. Kanturk is an interesting example of an Irish fortified house because of its mix of traditional pointed arches and the newer Tudor architecture with Renaissance doorways and mullioned windows. The Renaissance door on the first floor of the castle’s north side is in marked contrast to the traditional pointed door on the ground floor of the south side. Interestingly the castle was the first building outside of the UK taken under the care of the English National Trust in 1900, and it wasn’t until 2000 that it formally handed over to An Tasice (National Trust for Ireland) following amended legislation in Westminster!

GPS: 52.16489, -8.90268

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