Carrigafoyle Castle

Carrigafoyle Castle

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Carrigafoyle Castle, Ballylongford, Co.Kerry

Carrigafoyle Castle

The very name of this castle derives from the old Gaelic description of its foundations – ‘the rock with the chasm’. What survives today of the original fortress bears impressive testimony to the wealth and power of Cornelius (Conor Liath) O’Connor-Kerry, who had it built during the 1480s and 90s. He and his wife had also commissioned the exquisite Lislaughtin Cross. While the Renaissance was flourishing in continental Europe during the 15th century, Gaelic and Gaelicised-Norman Ireland was undergoing a major economic and cultural boom known as ‘the Gaelic Revival’. This great castle with its central keep or tower (five storeys high with 104 internal steps leading to the solarium at the top), and its inner and outer curtain walls and bastions is one of the finest examples of Irish architecture of that period. However, it has a most unique feature in that it had a fortified harbour within its walls. Similar features may be seen in Lisbon’s Torre de Belém on the Tagus estuary. From here, the O’Connor- Kerry galley fleets patrolled the Shannon estuary, and provided escorts to the merchants trading in and out of Limerick, Askeaton and Tarbert in return for fees and tributes in wine. On Palm Sunday, 1580, the castle fell to Queen Elizabeth I’s forces commanded by Sir William Pelham. The entire garrison of Irish and Spanish soldiers under the command of Captain San Julián, was hanged from the battlements. Later in 1605, King James I restored the O’Connor-Kerry to his castle and some of his estates, though most of his lands had already been granted to Trinity College Dublin in 1592. In 1652, the fortunes of the O’Connor- Kerry lordship ended when Cromwellian troops destroyed the castle, and executed its lord, John O’Connor-Kerry, in Tralee’s market square.

The Castle is opened to the public in the summer months from first Friday in May to September

10.00 AM  –  6.00 PM

Martara Brooch 7th Century
The Martara Brooch was discovered by Mrs Sheila Edgeworth in July 2009 cleaning out the ashes from her range at her home in Martara. The brooch was thrown into the fire the night before concealed in a sod of turf cut from the family’s bog in Tullahennel North, Ballylongford, Co.Kerry but miraculously survived.
The Brooch can be seen in The Kerry Museum in Tralee, Co.Kerry.