Blackrock Castle

Blackrock Castle


Location: 2 km (1.5 mi) East of Cork city Map

Constructed: 16th century


Description of Blackrock Castle

Blackrock Castle is situated 2 km (1.5 mi) East of Cork city in Cork County in Ireland. Despite its medieval appearance Blackrock Castle was actually constructed in the 16th century during reign of Elizabeth I to protect the shores against pirates and invaders. Today Blackrock Castle is home to "Cosmos at the Castle" a scientific museum devoted to astronomy. Blackrock Castle also contains a restaurant open for the tourists.



In the late 16th century, the citizens of Cork petitioned Queen Elizabeth I to build a fort at Blackrock to 'fight off pirates and other invaders'. A fort was built on this site in 1582 and a round tower was added around 1600 to provide security against pirates capturing ships entering the harbour. The earliest part of the building that survives today is the round tower at the water's edge, 10.5 meters thick with walls 2.2 meters thick.

According to a charter from King James I of England in 1608, the castle belonged to the city of Cork. The fort is mentioned in the Council Book of Cork in 1613 and 1614. In 1722 the old four storey tower was destroyed by fire and rebuilt by the citizens of Cork at a cost of £296.

Throughout this period, Blackrock Castle has been used by Cork City Council for banquets and 'celebratory gatherings' - some in connection with the tradition of 'throwing the dart'. This tradition, which dates back to at least the 18th century, was performed every three years in August and consisted of the mayor shooting an arrow from a boat with a bow about 1.3 meters (4.1 ft) long to establish city government jurisdiction over the harbor to show

After a banquet, the fort was destroyed by fire in 1827. Rebuilding began at the behest of Mayor Thomas Dunscombe in 1828 and was completed in March 1829. The architects had added three more floors to the original tower and rebuilt the outbuildings. The new building cost the City of Cork £1000 and the architects were George Richard Pain and James Pain, who were also responsible for other public buildings around Cork at the time. The neo-Gothic building complex around a courtyard is essentially what remains of the fort today.

The fort came into private hands for a period in the 20th century and served as a private home, office, seat of a rowing club and restaurant. In 2001 Cork City Council bought back Blackrock Castle and had it renovated and converted into an observatory and museum.



In the early 2000s, Blackrock Castle was remodeled in collaboration with Cork City Council, the Cork Institute of Technology and a private donor.

Opened in 2007, the Cosmos at the Castle project was intended to create a "Center for Scientific Research, Broadening Horizons, and Communication." The observatory houses an interactive astronomy center that is open to the public and features exhibits such as the "Tour of the Universe" and a radio telescope that allows school groups to send messages to nearby stars.

The fort also houses laboratories where astronomers from the Cork Institute of Technology work.