Burnfort / Mourneabbey (Co. Cork / Central)
Burnfort takes its name from an ancient ringfort known as Ráth an Tóiteáin (“Fort of the Burnings”), of which liitle remains beyond a souterrain (one of two in the vecinity). An Ogham stone found here in 1835 subsequently disappeared from the Royal Cork Institution.
The Island Wedge Tomb (Lat: 52.070017N, Long: 8.584048W), approached up a lane and through a farmyard, is a fine example of a small wedge-tomb, excavated relatively recently (1952). The thin roof-stones are in situ, and much of the cairn material survives. (Photo by Jim Dempsey)
Nearby is the site of the1151 Battle of Móin Mhór, at which five chieftains of the O hEachthighearna, a Dalcassian sept, and many of their followers were killed by the MacNamaras.
Mourneabbey (Mainstir Na Morna), (pop. 1000), aka Balynamona, was an important medieval town, largely destroyed by Murough O’Brien during the reign of King Edward IV.
Mourne Abbey, now in ruins, was built c1200 by Alexander de St Helena as a Preceptory of either the Knights Templar or the Knights Hospitallers, who certainly held it after 1307 . After 1335 Br John FitzRichard built a strong tower here. (Photo – www.cclesiasticalireland.org)
The site passed into MacCarthy hands after a bloody battle c.1521 at which they defeated an attack by the powerful Earl of Desmond.
Sections of an enclosing wall survive, including parts of the ground and first floors of a rectangular tower. Fragments of a vault remain over the ground floor. A graveyard now covers most of the site.
Mourneabbey was last in the limelight during the War of Independence, when it was the scene of an IRA ambush of British forces, in which eight volunteers died.
The most famous person from the parish was Tomás Mac Curtain, former Lord Mayor of Cork, murdered by disguised members of the RIC in 1920.
Barrett’s Castle, aka Castlebarrett or Castle More, is on a commanding elevation above the River Clyda. (Photo by Atherts).
Some of the walls are still just about standing, and appear to have formed part of a late C12th structure, while the remains of an attached tower seem to be of C15th or C16th origin. The original builders may have been the de Cogans, from whom the Earl of Desmond acquired it in 1439.
The first Barrett in Ireland is said to have been a Welsh Norman member of Raymond “Le Gros” Carew FitzGerald‘s 1169 Wexford landing party, and his descendants prospered under Carew patronage. As Geraldine supporters the family dominated this area, long known as Barrett’s Country and later Barrett’s Barony, for several centuries, engaging in frequent warfare with the MacCarthy Clan. However, their main base was at Ballincollig, and records indicate that Castle More was not occupied by Barretts until the early C17th.
The castle was partially destroyed by Cromwellian forces c.1651.
Although nominally Protestant, John Barrett fought for King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and forfeited all the family’s land as a result.
Bottlehill Wood (originally called Battlehill after a bloody confrontation between the O’Brien and MacCarthy clans) has extensive forest walks and some very scenic views. Birdwatchers flock to the location for its many songbirds, and it is believed to be a nesting site for hen harriers.
The Legend of Bottlehill is an amusing tale.
Bweeng // Aghabullogue (Co. Cork / Central)
Bweeng (pronounced as “Bweeing” or “”Bwing”) is the name of a prominent summit in the Boggeragh Mountains (not to be confused with Bweenduff, topped with communication masts, or Little Bweeng in the neighbouring Derrynasaggart range), a Coillte forest and a village, all included on the Dunhallow, Blackwater / Avondhu and Ireland Coast to Coast walking trails. Unfortunately, tey are also popular with quad bike riders and other such noisy hooligans.
The Irish name for Bweeng was something like Buinn na Miol (“Hill of the Hares”), but the village is nowadays signposted as Na Boinn, which seems to mean “the coins”. Very odd.
Bweeng village has improved its image considerably in recent years, and is to be complimented on its New Look in general and pretty Peace Park in particular.
The Bweeng Wedge Tomb is an interesting local megalith.
Garrane Stone Alignment comprises 3 Standing Stones close together, measuring from 2.5m to over 3.7m high. A fourth stone has fallen. This site has a panoramic view across the River Blackwater Valley. (Photo by Clive Ruggles)
Kilkillin is an ancient enclosure now bisected by a road. It was probably an early Christian graveyard. Nearby there is a souterrain. Skulls have been found round about, and many local stories of supernatural moving lights, etc. are associated with the site.
The Lackendarragh Holed Stone is a thick slab featuring a curving 11.3cm long hole, probably formed naturally. A C19th report alleged that ‘handkerchieves‘ (sic) (probably rags) were passed through it to cure wounds.
Donoughmore was formerly linked with Cork City by the narrow gauge Cork and Muskerry Light Railway. The Donoughmore line, opened in 1893, closed in 1934.
Rathcoola House was built in 1752 for the Rt Hon Horatio Talbot, and named for the river that runs through the grounds. It was occupied during the Great Famine by the local CoI prebendary, Rev Cotter, unfondly remembered for offering food to starving peasants on conditioon they converted to Protestantism; ironically, it later became a RC school. A walled garden contains 150-year-old apple tees. The house is nowadays used by visiting antipodean artists and writers benefiting from the Rathcoola Residency scheme.
Stuake (pronounced as “Stuick” or “Stwick”) is notable mainly for its odd name, the oigin of which is obscure.
Aghabullogue parish is proud of its archaeological heritage of Stone Circles, Wedge Tombs, an Ogham Stone, three fulacht fiadhs and several Holy Wells.
Ballinagree, a village and district in the southern foothills of the Boggeragh Mountains, is one of the richest areas in northern Europe for megaliths. Of these, one of the most interesting is at nearby Carrigagulla, and the walk there from the village is highly recommended.
Ballinagree is not far from Carriganimmy on ByRoute 4.
Mullinahassig Wood has forest and riverside walks leading to a pretty waterfall on the Glaslagarrif River, really only a stream at this point. This is a good spot for birdwatching.
Carrigadrohid (Co. Cork / South)
Carrigadrohid (Carraig an Droichid – “Rock of the Bridge”) is mentioned by name in a 1537 document, indicating that even then the River Lee was spanned at this point by a bridge of unknown construction.
Carrigadrohid Castle, photogenically situated on a massive rock in the middle of the river, is a remarkable Tower House, probably first erected as a MacCarthy stronghold in the mid-C15th and remodelled and extended over several centuries. It has been roofless and ruined for over 200 years. (Photo by Baz in Irl).
The castle and manor formed part of the 1578 Surrender and Regrant between Cormac McTeigue MacCormac and the Crown, as a result of which he was made Viscount Muskerry. It was here that in 1580 the badly wounded Sir James FitzGerald (brother of the rebel Earl of Desmond), defeated by the MacCarthys at the nearby Battle of Aghavrin / Aghabullogue, was imprisoned prior to his delivery to the English authorities at Blarney, after which he was summarily tried in Shandon Castle and executed.
The castle was besieged by English Parliamentarian force under Roger Boyle, Baron Broghill, on 11th May 1650, the day after they had routed a Royalist Confederate force led by David Roche at Macroom. Boyle had taken prisoner the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ross, Boetius MacEgan, and warned the garrison that he would be put to death unless they surrendered. MacEgan told the garrison not to surrender and was then hanged in view of the castle walls. The garrison surrendered shortly afterwards, and were allowed to march away unmolested. The Bishop is remembered s “the Mytred Martyr of Macroom“.
Prior to its abandonment, the Castle was the residence of the Bowen family.
The current bridge and dam at Carrigadrohid were constructed in th early 1950s as part of the River Lee hydro-electric scheme.
Carrigadrohid is within easy reach of Macroom on ByRoute 4.
Saint Olann’s Well at Coolineagh is near a boulder supposedly bearing the petrosomatoglyph footprints of the saint himself.
Rooves Bridge is adjacent to a monument commemorating Captain Kennefick, allegedly tied to the back of a lorry near Peake and dragged four miles to the bridge where he was shot dead and dumped in a ditch by the Free State Army during the Civil War.
Coachford & Dripsey (Co. Cork / South)
Coachford (Áth an Chóiste), a crossroads village on the north side of the River Lee, now spanned by a bridge, got its name from a narrow ford that was flooded in the 1950s for hydroelectric power development; a lot of houses and farmland are now under the water.
A ruined medieval church has a centuries old cemetery holding several interesting graves.
Dripsey is an area made up of Lower Dripsey, Model Village (the most populated part) and Dripsey Cross (where the Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the World is held annually). The name is derived from the Irish name Druipseach, which means muddy river.
Carrignamuck / Dripsey Castle
Carrignamuck / Dripsey Castle was one of several fortifications built by Cormac Láidir MacCarthy, Lord of Muskerry, in the late C15th. His murder here by his brother Owen and nephews was avenged by his son Cormac Óg three years later.
On the death of Sir Cormac McTeigue MacCarthy in 1583, his brother Callaghan became head of the Clan, but renounced in favour of his nephew Cormac McDermod, who allowed him to remain in residence at Carrignamuck. His son Cormac‘s participation in the 1641 Rebellion led to his forfeiture if the estate.
The castle was captured in May 1650 by Lord Broghill‘s Parliamentarian troops, and later acquired by the Colthurst family, who lived in a house on the grounds for almost two centuries.
In 1903 it was bought by industrialist and politician Andrew O’Shaughnessy, and it has remained in his family ever since, although it has not been lived in for many years.
In January 1921, during the War of Independence, the IRA planned an ambush of British troop convoy in Dripsey, but a Loyalist lady, Mrs. Lindsay of Leemont House, warned the authorities, and soldiers captured the ambushers, who were subsequently sentenced to death by a military court. The IRA kidnapped Mrs. Lindsay and her chauffeur to forestall the executions, but the volunteers were shot by firing squad and the hostages were murdered. The roadside memorial does not mention them.
Dripsey is within easy reach of Cork City.