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Conna Castle
 

County

Cork

Coordinates

N 52° 05' 40.02"   W 008° 06' 05.7"

Nearest town

Conna

Grid Ref.

W 93038 93619

Map No.

81

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

39

Date of visit

Friday 10 June 2016

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The castle on the top of the rocky outcrop.


Conna Castle stands on a rocky outcrop on the right bank of River Bride in a nice town park.
It was built in 1554 by the FitzGeralds, Earls of Desmond. One of the first occupants of the castle was Thomas (Tomás Ruadh) FitzGerald, father of James FitzThomas FitzGerald, also known as the Súgán Earl.
In those times the English crown was losing power over Ireland, so king Henry VIII decided to be more determined to gain control and a new era of rule began. The FitzGeralds rebelled against this new administration, but their rebellion was violently crushed. Conna Castle wasn't destroyed because Tomás Ruadh showed the English Crown not to support the rebellion. However the area was condemned to a long period of terror, violence and famine.
The Plantation of Munster began and the English planters took all they wanted.
James, son of Tomás Ruadh, saw the family's lands going to the English so in 1589 he went to London to meet Queen Elizabeth I to claim back what was his and his family's, but was rejected mith mockery. Thus he gained the title of Súgán Earl. Nine years later he had the news that Hugh O'Neill defeated the English at the Battle of Yellow Ford, north of Armagh, and was inspired to engage a new battle against the Crown. Hugh O'Neill supported him with 4,000 men, but this rebellion was a failure, James was betrayed and captured on May 29th, 1601, by Edmund FitzGibbon FitzGerald, the White Knight, and eventually sent to the Tower of London where he got insane and died in 1608.
After James's death the castle was granted to Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork.
In 1645 the castle was captured by James Tuchet, 3rd Earl of Castlehaven, who was leading the Irish Confederate troops.
In 1653 the castle was partly destroyed by a violent fire which killed the three young daughters of the occupant.
One of the last owners of the castle was the L'Estange family, who bought the castle in 1851. Their son, the reverend and writer Alfred Guy Kingan, was the last owner and at his death in 1915 he donated the castle to the State, the first property of this kind to be willed to the State in the Irish history.
The castle has a rectangular plan, it measures 9 metres on the east and west sides, and 13.5 metres on the north and south sides. It's about 26 metres tall, it has five storeys but only the ground floor has an intact vaulted ceiling. The main door is in the east (90°) wall and is protetcted by a machicolation on the fourth floor. There's an opening at the base of the castle on the north side, this was the outlet of the garderobe, or toilet. The south wall has plenty of windows, many of them are simple arrow loops, but there are three two-light ogee windows. The north side has only three windows. Other windows, some are ogee windows, are in the east and west wall. The east side rises one floor above the rest of the building, the other three sides of the roof level are crenellated.
A small section of the original bawn wall can still be seen. The river Bride flows below the north side of the castle.
During our visit we met a feral cat with her very young kitten.


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