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Ross Castle
 

County

Kerry

Coordinates

N 52° 02' 29.46"   W 009° 31' 53.7"

Nearest town

Killarney

Grid Ref.

V 94933 88833

Map No.

78

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

26

Date of visit

Thursday 16 June 2016

GPS Accuracy (m)

4
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Ross castle seen from Lough Leane.


This imposing tower house is a landmark on the east shore of Lough Leane.
It was built in the 15th century by the O'Donoghue family. It is five storeys high. In its early form the castle had a bawn wall with four turrets built around it. An earthen bank would have protected the stone structures and an outer timber palisade would have enclosed a bailey where the dwellings for the soldiers were.
One century later, at the end of the Second Desmond Rebellions, the castle fell into the hands of the McCarthy Mór family. He probably altered the castle adding larger windows and bartizans at the roof level. Some years later, after the Irish Confederate Wars, the castle was granted to Sir Valentine Browne, an English land surveyor, who built a mansion house against the west side of the castle and demolished this part of the bawn wall in 1688. The mark of the roof of this house is still visible high on the tower house wall.
One hundred years later the castle was turned into a garrison. Most of the bawn walls were demolished along with the house built by Browne. A barrack block was built in the west quarter of the courtyard, a massive buttress was added at the northwest corner of the tower house and a large and long building was built against the south wall of the castle.
Today the barracks are gone, the courtyard is wide and free of buildings down to the lake shore. The large building to the south of the castle is still there but partly damaged. The strong buttress is still there too.
The current access to the castle is via a doorway in the north section of the bawn wall, the only section that still retains the original corner turrets. The tower house has a doorway in the north wall.
The tower house is five storeys high. The safest floor was the fifth where the chieftain and his family would sleep. This room had a stone floor rather than timber like others. The roof level is crenellated with stepped crenellation at the northeast corner which is taller than the rest of the building. The northeast corner has the spiral staircase from the ground level to the roof. The defences of the tower house were two machicolations, now disappeared, one over the doorway in the north wall, the other one was in the south wall, both built at the roof level. Two bartizans were added, both still visible, in the northwest and southeast corners of the roof.
The castle is visible inside as well, but we didn't enter.


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