Barryscourt Castle (Caisleán Chúirt an Bharraigh)

Barryscourt Castle


Location: Cork-Youghal Road (N25), Carrigtwohill Map

Constructed: 16th century

Official site

Tel. +353 21 488 2218

Open: 26th May - 28th September: Daily 10am - 6pm

Last admission 45 min before closing

Admission Fee: Free


Description of Barryscourt Castle

Barryscourt Castle is located near town of Carrigtwohill in Cork County of Ireland. Barryscourt Castle was constructed in 16th century by the Barry clan. This family supported the Desmond Rebellions of 1569 and 1579 against Britain under rule of Elizabeth I. Barryscourt Castle was destroyed by their owners to keep it from falling into English hands, but quickly rebuild after British monarch gave the family her pardon. Barry clan abandoned their Barryscourt tower house in 1617, but it still served as a military fortification for several decades. During the Irish Confederate War Barryscourt Castle was badly damaged in 1645 by cannon fire and eventually taken by enemy forces.
This traditional Irish tower house is one of the best preserved structures from the period. First floor Main Hall and Second Floor Great Hall are well restored to their original appearance. Additionally a garden that previously surrounded Barryscourt is now replanted in an original design.



The site on which Barryscourt Castle now stands has been inhabited for the last 1000+ years; evidence has been found of the existence of a wooden watermill built near a watercourse on the site sometime in the 7th century, long before any type of fort existed there. Barryscourt fell into the hands of the Anglo-Norman De Barry family in the 12th century; Remains of stonework found on the site may be the remains of another watermill or that of an early fort built by the De Barrys.

Whilst the De Barry lands in various parts of County Cork were divided between branches of the family, Barryscourt remained in the hands of the most powerful branch, the Barrymores (Barra mór means 'great Barrys' in English). The Barrymore line later died out and it fell to Barryscourt in 1556 to a distant cousin, James FitzRichard of the Barryroes (Barra Rúa, dt: "Red Barrys"). The current Tower House at Barryscourt was probably built in the late Barrymore period, either in the late 15th or early 16th century. According to the architectural style, it can be dated to around 1550; it became the family home of the Barrys.

The Barrys took part in the Desmond Rebellions of 1569 and 1579, and in 1581 they destroyed or seriously damaged the family castles to prevent English troops from conquering them. This was also the case at Barryscourt Castle, which was threatened by an army led by Sir Walter Raleigh. After the second rebellion was put down, the Barrys were pardoned by Queen Elizabeth I of England and Barryscourt Castle was repaired. At that time, the second ring of walls or enclosure was added, enclosing the courtyard and having three corner towers.

Barryscourt was no longer the Barry family headquarters from 1617 but apparently was still an important stronghold for many years afterwards, having been attacked and taken in 1645, in the Wars of the Irish Confederacy. The traces of the impact of the cannonballs fired during this attack on the castle can still be seen on the castle walls.

Later Barryscourt Castle fell into disuse and the Coppinger family (who had taken over the estate from the Barrys) had a house built near the castle in the early 18th century. However, this house has long since disappeared. In 1987 the Barryscourt Trust was formed to preserve the castle and develop it as a monument. During the 1990s the relatively undamaged outer walls of Dúchas Tower House were repaired and the building given a new roof and today Barryscourt Castle is a popular monument managed by the Office of Public Works. The interior is furnished as it probably was in the 16th century. There are daily free guided tours of the castle.



Barryscourt Castle was built in a style very typical of 16th Century Ireland. It consisted of a central tower house with smaller annexes arranged around the main building in the courtyard. The whole was protected by an outer enclosure or curtain wall with three smaller towers. A large building once stood next to Tower House, believed to be a Great Hall, but only ruins remain. The Tower House occupies the south-west corner of the nearly rectangular courtyard, the entrance of which is found in the south curtain wall nearby. There is a smaller gate in the northern curtain wall. The dungeon is designed in such a way that prisoners could fall in from above. Three smaller turrets rise at the north-east, south-east and south-west corners of the main tower. These three turrets are five stories tall, while the main block of the tower is only three stories tall.