Carrigafoyle Castle

Carrigafoyle Castle



Location: County Kerry Map

Constructed: 1490s by Conor Liath O'Connor-Kerry


Carrigafoyle Castle is a medieval tower house surrounded by the wall in a County Kerry in Ireland. Carrigafoyle Castle was constructed in 1490s by Conor Liath O'Connor-Kerry.



Carrigafoyle Castle (Irish Caisleán Charraig an Phoill) – originally built by Conor Liath O'connor-Kerry in the 1490s – was considered one of the strongest Irish fortifications of this time and was typical of castles in Munster. It consisted of two Main buildings (towers). The complex was slightly elevated on a rock in a small Bay of Shannon. The name derives from the Irish Carraig to Phoill. The strategic significance of the castle was the control of the shipping routes that supplied goods to the trading town of Limerick, 32 km away; therefore, the castle was considered the guardian of the Shannon. By an English conquest the supply route would be cut off and English troops could arrive directly to Limerick.

The Bay before the fortification was secured on the northern side by a wooded island. Double walls were erected to the west of the complex; the inner Wall surrounded the castle courtyard and was surrounded by a moat. The Keep was good 25 meters high. During the flood, the Shannon was able to lay directly on a fortified landing strip within the ditch.



During the Desmond Rebellion, the castle was occupied by 50 Irish and 16 Spanish soldiers who arrived in Smerwick in 1580 and were part of the papal invading force. Among them were women and children. A few months earlier, the Italian engineer Captain Julian began to revise the defensive structures according to the instructions of Eleanor, the gravely Desmond. At the time of the siege, the Countess had already travelled to Castleisland to her husband, but Julian had not yet finished his work.

The English commander Sir William Pelham, along with George Carew and a 600-man army of Sir William Winter, moved through Munster. Winter also commanded a sea-based army that helped fight the Rebellion. Upon arriving at Carrigafoyle Castle, the English force snatched southwest of the castle and built their artillery along a low wall about 100 meters north of the outer fortification wall. At the northernmost point of this wall, a company of foot soldiers with lances was placed in position.

The English troops bombarded the castle for two days (6 hours a day) with three so-called demi-cannons (Half the guns in the fleets of the 17th century. Century, which is fired instead of a 42-pound projectile, only a 32-pound shell) and a Kalverine (a big gun with small projectiles). Both types of cannons originate from winter's ships and were fired by sea cannons. In addition, in the mouth of the river outside the Bay there were three three Masters at anchor, who also used their cannons.

On the first day of the siege (Palm Sunday), Pelham ordered a force to cross the wall on the sea side – but the men were stretched down by gunfire and slain by rocks thrown on them by the defensive gear. The partially deployed assault ladders were simply repelled by the Spanish Helle cards. During the bombing, Pelham was hit and wounded by a ricochet and mocked by the besieged, but the attack continued abruptly.

On the second day, Pelham received regrouping of troops from winter's ships. The final attack, led by Captain Humfrey, don worth and John Zouche, focused on the part of the castle, which was most of the guns removed and in which the defenders were. After two or three full hits, the tower eventually collapsed and buried several defenders. Some of the survivors fled through the shallow water, but were either shot or killed with the sword. The remaining besiegers were brought to the English Camp and hung on trees. Captain Julian was the last to be executed after three days.

The strategic significance of this siege is clear from the fact that after the news of the fall of the castle spread, the other fortifications of the Desmond could be conquered very quickly. The rebels retreated instead, and went in the guerrilla struggle.

The castle of Carrigafoyle was so badly damaged by the siege that it was never repaired. The ruins, including the outer defence system – and the damage done by the bombing are still visible today.