Carriganass Castle




N 51° 45' 14.5"   W 009° 22' 45.3"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

W 04805 56578

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Monday 24 June 2013

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The castle on the north bank of the Ouvane River.

It's a usual tower house like many others in Ireland.

It was built in 1541 by Clan Chieftain Dermot O'Sullivan Beare.
The bawn wall was built in 1580 by Owen O'Sullivan because he was concerned that his cousin could attack the castle over a family dispute. One of the inhabitants of the castle was Donal Cam O'Sullivan, who was at the head of the Munster forces at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. After the fall of Dunboy Castle near Castletownberehaven, he lead the famous retreat march of over 300 kilometres from Glengarriff to Leitrim with 1,000 followers. He and his men walked for 14 days and were attacked several times, only 35 of them eventually reached Leitrim. It is also said that Donal Cam's wife Aoife was murdered by English soldiers led by the English commander St. Ledger at Gougane Barra.
St. Ledger had seized Carriganass Castle, so Donal Cam returned to the castle disguised as a monk and avenged his wife's death by throwing St. Ledger from the tower into the Ouvane River which flows below the castle.

Not much of the structure survives today, only a section of the bawn wall and a part of the tower itself. The tower house was a five-storey structure about 17 metres tall with walls 2.5 metres thick. The ground floor measured about 9 metres by 5 metres. The first floor had a vaulted ceiling and has a surviving west window. It also has a number of mural chambers and recesses in the north and west wall, which suggest that this was a space dedicated to private residence. The second floor had window in the north, south and west walls, and it is believed that this level was used as a guest floor and also for entertainment and business purposes. The third floor was also vaulted and with mural chambers, suggesting that this space as well was used as a private residence. This floor was less lit than others so it's possible that residents slept here. The fourth floor had a gabled roof and surrounding spaces for walking along the parapets walls. The entrance to the castle was in the eastern wall now missing and a spiral staircase would have been in the southeast corner.
The corners of the tower house were protected by bartizans, two of them are still visible today.
The bawn wall was erected later and was approximately 40 metres long, 20 metres wide and 5 metres high with an access in the north wall. The bawn wall was protected by four turrets with gun loops.

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