Castles of Blarney District

Newcastle Castle Blarney        OS Survey 62 

Newcastle was on the left of a “Y” turn immediately past the lodge of Garrycloyne House, about 5 miles north of Blarney. It was behind two houses on the right-hand side of the road, almost opposite the gates of the present Newcastle House (which is on the other side of the road). Of the two houses mentioned the white house of Thomas and Catherine Donovan is to the rear, and the “Castle Field” is to the back and left of their residence. The castle was to the left or western part of the field. The old stone gates on the roadway past their house are believed to have been the original entry gates to the castle. The drive ran behind the two houses. The Donovans have a lively interest in the history of the castle and the district, and have found a number of objects on the site which include broken clay smoking pipes, one of which is marked with a shamrock, and another with the initials ‘E.R.’ (Elizabeth Regina). They have also found (1) pieces of gravel tempered ware from North Devon of the 17th century, (2) pieces of graffito ware from the same area and century and (3) pieces of German blue stone ware of the 17th-18th centuries.

There is no present trace of the castle or of the walls of the bawn, which Michael Donovan believes was of a different, rectangular shape from the present field. On the Jury Map of 1811 the name ‘Rathlin Castle’ seems to be applied to Newcastle. (Rathlin – little Fort).

It appears to have been a castle of the Galways. An inquisition of 27th July 1627 was held following the death of Walter Galway in 1581 who described as being of Newcastle ‘in the Barony of Barretts beyond Garrycloyne and Blarney’. Earlier John Galway had died in 1594 seized of Newcastle, Garrycloyne and lands in Kinsale. This was the family, staunchly Catholic, who also owned Dundanion Castle near Cork City, q.v. The Galways may not have been occupiers.

After the Confederate War the land seems to have passed on to the Travers family as indicated in the will of Zachery Travers who died in 1675. Andrew Barrett who died in 1727 and is buried in Kilcrea Graveyard is described as being of ‘Newcastle’ but it is not clear whether he possessed the castle; and there is very little recorded history of it from that time. It is likely to have been, at the least, ‘slighted’ during the Cromwellian period.

Garrycloyne Castle Blarney OS Survey 62 

Garrai Chluana: The Meadow Garden

Garrycloyne was about three miles north of Blarney, and about a mile and a half above Waterloo. It was in the grounds of Garrycloyne House on the rise of a field almost exactly between a lake in the grounds, now largely overgrown, and the river Martin. This lake, with the site beyond it, is in the field where the road forks to the right before leading to Garrycloyne House. By the early ‘sixties two walls only, with part of another, were left standing so the castle, being considered dangerous, was knocked by the County Council. In early documents it was described as ‘A lofty square tower’, although remembered as a fairly small castle of the tower house type. It was reputedly built by the MacCarthys on dates variously given as 1535 and 1585. Garrycloyne House has also been ruinous for some years. The property is an out-farm of the Wiseman family.

The earlier date, 1535, would seem to have been the more likely if the castle was originally, as indicated, built by the MacCarthys since the Galways, in the person of Walter Galway, the eldest son of Alderman Andrew Fitz-Edward Galway, is described as having inherited Lota, Garrycloyne, Ballydesmond and the other lands in the County and City along with messuages (dwelling-houses with their out-buildings and lands) in Youghal, Kinsale and Kilmallock. He was Mayor of Cork in 1578 and died on 14th September 1581. In an inquisition of the time of James 1 following the death of Walter’s son, John, the latter was shown to have been seized of Newcastle, Garrycloyne and Kinsale castles. Subsequently the Sarsfields (Viscount Kilmallock) would appear to have been the non-resident owners, and the lands, being confiscated in 1692 by the Williamite regime, passed to the Travers family in 1704. The Travers may have been tenants before that time since Zachery, from his will, appears to have been there when he died in 1675. Boyle Travers, an Alderman and banker in Cork City, who died in 1766 married Catherine Cross, and their son John is described as being ‘of Garrycloyne Castle’. John died in 1794, and his son John, who married Rebecca Pyne in 1798, died in 1854. He sold Garrycloyne Castle in 1837 to Samuel Philip Townsend, who had married Frances Newman of Dromore House the previous year. The castle, as a residence, had almost undoubtedly been abandoned by that time and in 1848 Garrycloyne House was described as being ‘spacious and well-built on rising ground, looking over a fine lawn of mor than 100 acres.’ Samuel was at that time on of the County Record Jury. His son, Richard Horatio, born in 1838, died at an early age in 1879 and his son, another Samuel Philip, emigrated to Australia. He was described as a ‘minor’ in the directory of 1883, and his emigration seems to have effectively ended the

Townsend connection. His son Philip was drowned in the English Channel during the 1914 war. In 1891 a Mr. Sikes was being described as of ‘Garrycloyne Castle’, but by that time it was the house which was of course meant. The Wiseman family were tenants of at least part of the land under a lease dated October 1869, and the Cork Constution of 23rd March 1916 records a legal action: ‘In the land court today before Mr. Justice Fitzgerald in the case of Samuel P. Townsend, landlord; Julia Wiseman tenant, the tenant appealed from a decision of the sub-commission, who held that when first demised, the holding was demesne, and was intended to be preserved as demesne and resumed as demesne by the landlord. It was held under lease 31 October 1869 from Horatio Townsend and adjoined the grounds of Garrycloyne House. The Justice upheld the landlord.’

James N. Healy was an actor, director and producer of note, a collector of songs and ballads, a writer of excellence, and his last book, ‘The Castles of County Cork’, which he also illustrated in 1988, contained the two above items. He also presented an excellent lecture on the same theme titled ‘Castles Around Blarney’ to the Blarney and District Historical Society on 2nd November 1989.

A limited number of back issues of ‘Old Blarney’ Journals and ‘Old Blarney’ Photo-Journals are still available by contacting 087 2153216, or

Contact: Mr. Brian Gabriel Email: Tel: 087-2153216