Barryscourt Castle | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Barryscourt Castle

Cobh, County Cork, Ireland

Sarah Roller

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Patryk Kosmider / Shutterstock

About Barryscourt Castle

Barryscourt Castle was the seat of the Anglo-Norman Barry family, and remains one of the best examples of an Irish Tower House, a traditional architectural style for 16th century Irish castles.

History of Barryscourt Castle

The land on which the castle was built first came into the hands of the Barry family in the 12th century, and excavations suggest some kind of early fortification may well have stoof on the site from around this time. The direct Barry family line eventually became extinct, and the site passed to a cousin, James FitzRichard, in 1556.

It’s thought he constructed the Tower House and surrounding fortifications around this time: architectural styles support this hypothesis. Built around the 1550s, Barrycourt Castle was the seat of power of the Barrymore branch of the Barry Family in Cork.

It was at a strategic site and was coveted by many, including Sir Walter Raleigh, who when he went to take the castle, found it burned down to deny him by the then owner, Lord David Barry. Barry took to the woods joining the Desmond Rebellion and then changed sides and in return gained all his lands and titles back for a small fine. He lived in the castle then from 1583/4 until his death in 1617.

After 1617, the castle stopped being the Barrys’ primary residence, but remained of strategic importance and was attacked during the Irish Confederate War. It then fell into further disrepair.

In 1987, the Barryscourt Trust was founded to conserve and develop the ruins into a potential heritage site – the castle was eventually taken over by the OPW (Office of Public Works), who restored much of the interior and continue to operate the site today.

Barryscourt Castle today

The main body of the castles and the gardens have been extensively restored, but guided tours are still the best way to go round – you’ll learn plenty about architecture, materials, and the social and cultural life of the upper echelons of Anglo-Irish society.

The castle has been closed for several years for further restoration work, and during the 2020-21 pandemic. Check back on heritageireland.ie for opening times.

Getting to Barryscourt Castle

The castle is located about 16km east of the city of Cork – it’s about a 20 minute drive, or you can get the bus (260 or 261) from Cork Bus Station to Carrigtwohill, about a 5 minute walk away.

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