Roaring Water Bay - Castles

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Kilcoe Castle                Rincolisky (Whitehall) Castle

Kilcoe Castle

Kilcoe castle [ view ] was built around the year of 1450 by the Clan of Dermort McCarthy on a 2-acre island. These McCarthys were a sub-tribe of the McCarthy Rioch of Kilbrittan where they originated from Blarney. At this time McCarthy's were one of the leading families in Munster and had land all around Cork especially West Cork. They built the castle at this point, on the edge an Roaringwater bay because of its defensive position. Kilcoe castle is built on an island, one side of the island is too shallow for boats to enter and on the other side is another island (Mannin island). This is the main reason why the English had so much trouble taking the castle because the ships couldn't get close enough for the cannons to have good aim.

As the English forces began to take over Irish lands and castles, due to their superior strength the English had little problems in taking over castles in West Cork except for Kilcoe which was the only castle in Carbery (West Cork) to hold out in rebellion. Many of these castles were taken over by Captain Harvey, a cousin to Sir George Carew an English Commander, and he tried many times to take over Kilcoe castle.  In 1600 Sir Richard Perry marched with some of the garrison of Kinsale in order to reduce Kilcoe. He didn't succeed but took 300 heads of cattle. This was one of the many attacks on the castle,  but due to the bravery of the residents they failed.On the 20th of April 1602 the Earl of Thousand's men took shelter in the castle, one of these being Conor O'Driscoll. The castle survived along siege and during the siege all the occupants left the castle except for Conor. Finally in February 1603 Conor surrender to Captain George Flower, the subordinate of Captain Harvey. It was the last place in West Cork to do so. Before the long siege started Captain Harvey died of a broken heart at Baltimore because of his failure to capture Kilcoe Castle.[Poem : The Siege of Kilcoe ]

After the siege of the castle the older McCarthy lived and died in a small house in Mannin island. After the McCathy's left the castle it was occupied shortly by a number of English people. And after 1640 the castle was never occupied again. Since then the castle has passed through a number of hands. At the start of the 19th century the English left it for the people who farmer the land. Up to 1966 nobody owned the castle until James Caverly, the local farmer, registered the castle and in 1972 sold it to Edward F.Samuel. He built a bridge connecting the castle to the main land but decided not to restore it. He then sold to Jeremy Irons, who is at the moment restoring it.

It is suggested that the castle was built on the site of another building. This is because at the bottom the walls at the bottom of the ground are 10 feet thick while the walls at the top are only 2-3 feet think. The stone for the walls was quarried from Mannin island and it is said that animals blood was used within the mortar to strengthen it. There was no bridge connecting , so you could only get access to the castle at half tide or less. The castle is 93 feet in height and stands proudly casting its shadow over roaringwater bay.

Rincolisky (Whitehall) Castle

To the south of Kilcoe castle and across the bay stands the second castle in the bay, Rincolisky (Whitehall) castle[ view ]. This castle belongs to the might of the O'Driscoll clan. The O'Driscolls were one of the strongest clans around in the 17th century, especially around Baltimore and the islands. They had castles in Baltimore and neighboring areas and Whitehall castle was another example of their power. It is worth noting that the McCarthy's and the O'Driscoll's in this part of the Cork were on good terms and respected each other. They did not attack each other and often helped each other in times of need.

The earlier name of Whitehall Castle was Rincolisky castle but after the English taking over the castle it was changed to Whitehall after the name of the townland. It was built in 1495 by the O'Driscoll clan.  What remains of the castle is the lower portion of a standard five storey tower house of that time.  Entry to the residential part of the building on the first floor is through a nicely carved door above the basement entry. From this mural stairs on the left lead upwards, and the main hall has an arched ceiling which is in perfect condition. The floors above this area are severely damaged and the castle is truncated from the second floor. Whitehall is on a hillock near the shore, to which the ground descends fairly steeply.

Following the battle of Kinsale the British forces began their sweep of all castles in the Carbery region and throughout Cork.  On 29th of April 1602 this castle became no exception as the English forces had little difficulty in taking over the castle. Sir Walter Coppinger took over the castle and the property and laid rest their.  In 1690 the Coppingers lost their land , because they supported James11 and the castle was given to the Townsends. The Townsends knocked the upper floors of the castle to build Whitehall house. Since then, the castle has remained untouched only by the natural elements. Some say that their is a tunnel leading from the house to the castle but it has never been found. One of the Townsends sent his little page boy down the passage to see if it was clear. The boy was never seen again.

These two castles form  the centerpiece of Roaring water bay and provides first hand  history of Roaring water bay.

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