GEMMA GRANT continues her series on the castles of Ireland

Kilcoe Castle lies on an islet in Roaringwater Bay, south east of the village of Ballydehob in Ireland’s beautiful County Cork. The castle is the residence of English actor, Jeremy Irons and his Irish wife, actress Sinéad Cusack (pictured). The couple had been living in a rebuilt cottage in the area and were familiar with the remains of Kilcoe castle.

Jeremy, in an interview said, “Someone is going to buy it and mess it up…so I thought, why not me?”
He undertook an arduous task that lasted six years before Castle Kilcoe became, “a nice place to be.” By 2004, the restored and renovated tower house boasted of such modern features as hot and cold running water, electricity and, more importantly, Wi-Fi.

The culminating results of hard work, collectible antiques and TLC have, according to one report, made Kilcoe castle into a “stately home, beautiful and slightly mad.”

The castle’s pièce de résistance, located on the third floor, is the family’s private quarter, the solar. Better known to castle dewllers as the Lords’ and Ladies’ Chamber. The castle sleeps thirteen people. Most of the bedrooms and bathrooms are tucked away in the five-storey turret, keeping those within, safe and sound from the vagaries of the outside world.

If only the old castle could have offered the same protection to its original inhabitants, clan MacCarthy.
The MacCarthy lineage stretches far back into Gaelic Ireland. The MacCarthy dynasty managed to dominate south Munster for almost 500 years, until their demise in the 1600s, when they lost everything. The sept built some twenty-nine castles, Kilcoe being among their possessions.

The name itself is derived from Cill Cocihe, Church of St. Coch, a nun apparently a companion of St. Kieran of the early Church.

The MacCarthys ruled an extensive district in Co. Cork and were wealthy landlords, known as the Princes of Carbery. The area was once the largest barony in Ireland and a small semi-independent kingdom founded in c. 1230 by Donal Gott MacCarthy. The castle of Kilcoe was built in c. 1450, by the decendents of Donal Gott.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own