Ballinacarriga Castle, Co. Cork
Location: From Dunmanway, take R 586 east (toward Ballineen) about six kilometers to R 637.
Take R 637 approximately one kilometer south. Take the first side road to the left (it will be within a kilometer
and is signposted).
Stay to the right. Within about a half kilometer, over Manch Bridge and the Bandon River, not far past the church,
the castle will be on the right.
There is a carpark about 50 meters past the castle on the opposite side of the road. Climb the steps to the
front of the castle.
Dimensions: Set on a high rocky outcropping overlooking Ballinacarriga lough. To the south
a stream runs from the lake under a small bridge to join the Bandon River to the North.
The stream once provided a supply of water to the castle. This tower measures 14.6 meters and 11.8 meters with
a short section of a bawn wall at the northeast corner. The remains of a round flanking tower are just to the east
of the castle. The east-facing doorway has been rebuilt but retains a portcullis groove and has corbels for a
machicolation above. At the ground level on the south is a guard chamber off the main lobby and a spiral stair rises
at the northeast corner. Above the ground floor are six levels of chambers. On the 2nd and 3rd story levels, these
subsidiary chambers are accessed from the main chambers of these levels. There are bartizans at the NW and SE corners
of the 3rd storey. This level is vaulted. Fireplaces are in the south wall of the 2nd and 4th storeys. The window
embrasures at these levels also have carvings.
Features: This is a four storey, six level tower house with an east-facing doorway. On this face of the castle,
a sheela-na-gig is positioned high above and to the right of the door between and to the right of the top two right-hand
windows (there are three windows above each on this side). Inside at the 2nd storey level, carving in the window
embrasure is of a female figure accompanied by five roses, thought to be of Catherine O' Cullane, wife of Randall Hurley,
and her five children. Also at this level are intricate and geometric designs. At the fourth storey level, carvings
include The Instruments of the Passion of Christ, figures thought to be St John, St. Mary and St. Paul and the initials
RM CC and the date 1585. These are thought to be the initials of Randal Muirhily (Hurley) and Catherine O'Cullane.
Comments:The castle is now closed with a locked iron gate, though many have said they were able to trespass
inside with relative ease.
History: Ballinacarriga: Beal na Carraige - "the mouth or passage of rock."
While the date 1585 appears in the fourth storey carving, it has been suggested that the building is older than this
date. This is McCarthy country and it is possible that this was one of McCarthy's holdings before the Hurley's
acquired it. The Hurleys had once occupied lands a little over a kilometer to the south, in the townland of Gloun,
where some scant remains of buildings are to be seen. The Hurleys forfeited this castle in 1654 whereby it passed
to the Crofts. The predominantly religious carvings on the top storey lend credence to the local belief that it was
used as a chapel as well as living quarters for the family. Locals also claim that this chapel was still in use
until a new chapel was built nearby in 1815, though the tower had been in disuse as a habitation for quite some time.
Other Items of Interest: If one can obtain a key, the carvings are quite nice as is the sheela high on the
front (east face) of the tower.