ByRoute 1.2 Co. Wexford (S) // Co. Cork (E)

Whitegate & Rostellan (Co. Cork / East)

Whitegate (pop. 450), a pleasant village on Cork Harbour. can be quite lively on summer evenings.

Whitegate Oil Refinery on Corkbeg Island supplies a significant percentage of the Republic of Ireland’s fuel needs.

Trabolgan, originally a 12th French Benedictine monastery, belonged for a long time to the Roche family after whom Roche’s Point is named. Edmund Burke Roche, great grandfather of HRH Princess Diana, lost Trabolgan betting on a greyhound race.

During WWII, Trabolgan served as a base for the Irish Army. Since 1948 the house and estate have changed hands several times, being used variously as a holiday camp, an all-Irish boarding school for boys from 1959 – 1973, and most recently as a family resort.

Rostellan is situated at the head of a small creek known as Rostellan Lake, which attracts large numbers of bird watchers all year round. The woods around its shore offer very attractive walks along the shore of what is a proposed Natural Heritage Area.

Rostellan Woods, now a Coillte Forest Park, used to form part of the demesne of Rostellan Castle, demolished in the 1920s. This was the seat of the descendants of the notorious Murrough O’Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin, the Royalist / Parliamentarian Protestant / Catholic general remembered as “Murrough of the burnings” for his savage treatment of the people of Munster during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, and subsequently French Viceroy in Catalonia. The line ended with the death of the 4th Marquess of Thomond in 1855.

Rostellan is close to Cloyne at the southern end of ByRoute 2.

East Ferry & Ballinacurra (Co. Cork / East)

East Ferry is situated at Cork Harbour‘s East Passage.

Many years ago Great Island and the mainland were connected by a ferry which ran on cables to overcome the strong current. Although the ferry was destroyed in a storm, the pier and old metal ends are evident at East Ferry to this day.

With its coastal woodlands, East Ferry feels very far removed from the busy shipping channels nearby. It is a charming place to walk or horse ride. Facilities for visiting boats are excellent.

Ballinacurra (Baile na Cora – “Town at the Weir”), a village on Cork Harbour, was once a thriving port connected to Midleton by a  channel was navigable by barges up to 300 tonnes. The quays were built during the era of the Napoleonic wars. Lewis’ topographical dictionary of Ireland (1837) lists the principal export as grain and the main imports as coal, timber, iron, slate and other heavy goods. The port was officially closed in 1962, due to the cost of dredging to keep it free of silt, the increasing size of ships, and the more widespread use of road transport.

Midleton (Co. Cork / Southeast)

Midleton / Middleton (Mainstir na Corann) (pop. 7000), situated on the River Owenacurra (Abhainn na Cora – “River of the Weirs”), was long the principle market town in the heart of the rich agricultural hinterland of the East Cork area, but is nowadays a satellite town of Cork City. There are several interesting antique and curio shops, a well-supplied gastronomic market and some good restaurants and pubs.

Historically known as Ballymacora, Midleton began as an abbey established c.1180 by Barry FitzGerald for Cistercian monks from Burgundy; it was soon known as Castrum Chor / Chore Abbey, probably taking its name from the Latin word for “Choir” / “Choral” (but some say that “Chor” comes from the Irish word cora – “weir”). Due to its status as a stop-off between Cork City and Youghal, the settlement came to be known as “Middle Town”, and received its charter from King Charles II as the “borough and town of Midleton” in 1670.

Midleton’s Distilleries

 

Legend has it that Irish whiskey was invented in Midleton, currently the home of the popular Jameson, Paddy and Powers brands.

 

Cork Distilleries, formed in 1825, was merged in 1967 into Irish Distillers, now owned by French spirits group Pernod Ricard.

 

The Old Midleton Distillery, aka the Jameson Heritage Centre is the only self-contained C18th industrial complex of its kind in the British Isles. The Mills, Maltings, Corn Stores, Stillhouses, Warehouses and Kilns have been extensively  restored and refurbished.

 

The largest Pot Still in the world, an old copper vessel with a capacity of more than 140,000 lites / 30,000 gallons, has been kept in the same building for more than 150 years. Ireland’s largest working Waterwheel, with a diameter of 7m, is still in operation.

 

The centre also features historic illustrations and photographs, audio-visual shows, exhibitions, demonstrations, graphic panels, intriguing display cabinets, artefacts and working models.

 

Distilling of whiskey, vodka and gin now takes place at the “new” Midleton Distillery complex, opened next door in 1975.

Midleton College, founded in 1696 by King William III‘s mistress Elizabeth Villiers and traditionally associated with the Church of Ireland, is nowadays a co-ed boarding and day school. Famous past pupils include John Philpot Curran and Isaac Butt.

Broderick Street commemorates Alan Brodrick, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who was made Baron Brodrick in 1715 and Viscount Midleton in 1717. His son was jointly responsible for creating the earliest known written rules of cricket.

(The 9th Viscount,  William St John Fremantle Brodrick, a prominent Conservative politician and Secretary of State for India, became Earl of Midleton in 1920, but that title became extinct in 1979).

The main street features a monument commemorating 12 IRA mambers killed at nearby Clonmult on 20th February 1920 by Crown forces during the War of Independence, and four more who were subsequently executed.

The former Cork & Youghal Co. railway line to Midleton, opened in 1859 and closed for regular use in 1963, was reopened by Iarnród Éireann in July 2009 as part of the Cork Suburban Rail network.

Midleton is not far from Castlemartyr on ByRoute 2.

Curragh Wood is a scenic location featuring walks suitable for different grades and levels of walker, with several loops and climbs.

Curragh Woods is linked by road to Fermoy on ByRoute 3.

Carrigtwohill (Co. Cork / Southeast)

Carrigtwohill (Carraig Tuathaill – “Sickle Rock”) (pop. 5000) is a suburb of Cork City.

The old village was named for a huge rock about half a mile northeast of the village itself, in the townland of Carrigane. The rock is honeycombed with caves and passages; tradition has it that a goat once entered one of these caves and emerged a few miles south at a place now called Poll an Gabair (“The Goat’s Hole”) in the townland of Ballintubrid.

Barryscourt Castle

 

Barryscourt Castle, originally erected in the C12th by Philip de Barry, was long the seat of the powerful Barrymore / Barra Mór dynasty. Rebuilt as an impressive Tower House c.1550, it was occupied by another branch of the Barry family until 1617. (Photo by Robert Buga)

 

The owners deliberately damaged the castle to prevent its use by English troops under Sir Walter Raleigh in 1581, during the second Desmond Rebellion. The building was attacked in 1645 during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, and still has cannon ball holes from that time.

 

Recently restored by the OPW, the castle is open to the public, with an exhibition devoted to the Barry family, and guided tours regularly available. Both the first floor Main Hall and the second floor Great Hall have been extensively refurbished. The dungeon is of the charming drop-prisoner-in-from-the-top variety.

 

The bawn, with wall and corner towers largely intact, features a herb garden, and the orchard has been restored to an original C16th design.

Carrigtwohill railway station, built in 1859, was re-opened in 2009 as part of the newly refurbished Midleton line of the Cork Suburban Rail network. A new station at Carrigtwohill West is due to open early in 2010.

Carrigtwohill is close to the outskirts of Cork City, and near the junction with the road to Cobh on Great Island.

Next: Passage West