Charleville (Co. Cork / Northwest)
Charleville (Rath Luirc or An Rath) (pop. 3000), is an important market town surrounded by the rich agricultural lands of the Golden Vale, near the Ballyhoura Mountains. It is the second largest town after Mallow between Limerick and Cork.
Charleville’s Main Street
Charleville was founded in 1661, shortly after the Restoration saw the return to power of The British monarchy after Cromwell’s Commonwealth in the person of King Charles II, for whom the town was named. Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1671, the borough returned two MPs to the Irish Parliament until 1800.
The town’s founder was Roger Boyle, newly created 1st Earl of Orrery, Lord President of Munster. Boyle’s magnificent manor, Charleville House, was burned down in 1690 by King James II‘s illegitimate son the 20-year-old Duke of Berwick shortly after dining there en route from the first Siege of Limerick during the Williamite War. The site was subsequently occupied by Moatville House, and now serves as the grounds of the local football club.
According to Lewis (1837), the local CoI rector, Rev. JR Cotter, invented “a new and very powerful bass wind instrument, called the Basso Hibernico“, which obtained the patronage of King George IV, and was introduced into his band.
Charleville features several fine old buildings, notably the elegantly steepled former Protestant church (1846), now used as a Library. There is also an attractive Town Park.
Holy Cross church (RC), a fine neo-Gothic edifice, was completed in 1910. The previous centre of worship on Chapel St., founded in 1812, is now the Parochial Hall.
Holy Cross cemetery is the site of a ruined medieval chapel. A gravestone with a Latin epitaph marks th burial place of Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill (d.1754), the Chief Poet of Munster in his time
The Turrets is the location of a limestone pier with a scrolled plaque reading “Fort St. George 1800” and bearing the Masonic emblem of setsquare & compass.
Charleville Railway Station, inaugurated in 1849, lies about a mile outside the town, and is a familiar sight to commuters between Dublin and Cork City,
The charming Schoolyard Theatre regularly stages local and touring productions.
The town’s main industry has long been the Golden Vale Creameries Co-Op, now part of Kerry Co-Op, one of the largest dairy concerns and cheese manufacturers in the country, best known for producing Charleville cheddar and Golden Vale processed cheese.
The Charleville Agricultural Show, held annually on the last weekend of June, is probably the largest two-day event of its kind in the country.
Churchtown (Co. Cork / Northwest)
Churchtown is a small C19th planned village built in the English style around an attractive central triangle. Revamped and tarted up in the late 1990s, it is now rather twee.
The land was from c.1630 part of the vast estates of the Earls of Egmont. Churchtown was designed and constructed between 1822 and 1849 by their agent Sir Edward Tierney (1780 – 1856), a Limerick solicitor who inherited a baronetcy from his doctor brother Mathew, who had saved the life of the Prince Regent from serious illness in 1820.
Henry Perceval, 5th Earl of Egmont, was a rake, a spendthrift and a drunk, “often to be found in a wild state in a low place known as Smith’s Hotel drinking with bums and hostlers”. He squandered his income as it came into his hands and then borrowed heavily from Sir Edward, to whom he left all his estates in England and Ireland on his death in 1841.The latter died in 1856, leaving all to his son-in-law, Rev Sir Lionel Darrell, but John, 6th Earl of Egmont, successfully challenged Earl Henry’s will in 1863. He sold the land to the tenants under the Ashbourne Act in 1895, thus ending the Perceval connection with County Cork after three hundred years.
The Boss Murphy House is a fine old mansion converted into a hotel and pub complex.
Bruhenny Church was officially closed by Act of Parliament in 1710, but the churchyard, of which records exist since the C14th, is still in use; the British film star Oliver Reed, who lived locally, was buried there at a tumultuous funeral in 1999.
Burton Park, the original seat of the Perceval family who held the Egmont title, was established in 1680; but burned ten year later by the energetic young Duke of Berwick. The current late C18th mansion was leased by the Purcell family from 1800; Matthew John Purcell purchased the property outright in 1889 and undertook extensive improvements and alterations (Photo – www.churchtown.net)
The Imogane Road (pronounced “Imogawn”), taking in the scenic Egmont View, is one of several lovely grassy country lanes in the area, perfect for a summer evening stroll.
Liscarroll (Co. Cork / Northwest)
Liscarroll (Lios Cearuill – “Carroll’s Fort”) was an early Anglo-Norman settlement defending the Golden Vale from the Gaelic inhabitants of the wild mountains and bogs to the southwest, and was long regarded as the crossroads of Munster.
Liscarroll Castle, the third largest castle in Ireland, was built c.1280 by the de Barry family, and acquired c.1630 by Richard Perceval. The imposing ruin features a vast towered bawn. (Photo by Cuchuaillan)
Battle of Liscarroll
The Battle of Liscarroll took place on 3rd September 1642, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.
A 6000-strong Kilkenny Confederacy army led by Garrett Barry, made up of militia raised by local lords after the Irish Rebellion of 1641, faced a force commanded by Murrough O’Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin, comprising soldiers sent from England and members of English settler families in Munster such as Roger and Richard Boyle, sons of the 1st Earl of Cork.
The 500-strong Confederacy cavalry led by Oliver Stephenson charged Inchiquin’s force, putting them into disorder and even capturing Inchiquin himself. However, in the melée, Stephenson was shot dead through the eye-piece of his helmet by Inchiquin’s brother, and his cavalry took flight when counter-attacked, leading to a rout.
Over 700 Confederacy soldiers were killed, including a high proportion of their officers. In addition, 50 more Confederacy officers taken prisoner by Inchiquinn were hanged the next morning.
The local Roman Catholic gentry were decimated by the battle, which meant that Cork remained an English stronghold for the rest of the war.
Liscarroll Fort, a large C7thAD Ring Fort aka locally as Lisgarrett, is the burial place of 18 members of the FitzGerald and FitzPierce families killed in the Battle of Liscarroll.
A pleasant village green beneath the castle walls is a popular place for picnics.
A monument commemorates Daniel O’ Brien, a Republican activist court marshalled and shot by the Irish Free State on 16th May 1921.
Knockardbane Donkey Sanctuary
Knockardbane Donkey Sanctuary, the only one of its kind in Ireland, has taken in over 2500 donkeys and mules rescued from all parts of the country.
Many have been abandoned after having worked for their owners for years, hauling peat or pulling carts. Most are old, some are lame, and a few are blind. However, life goes on, and the Sanctuary is very proud of its occasional foals!
The Sanctuary has a Visitors’ Centre and welcomes people wishing to walk around the fields to see the animals. There is no entrance fee, but donations are gratefully accepted.
Liscarroll Point-to-Point Races, first recorded in 1809, have been held annually since 1954. Organised by the Duhallow Hunt, the event takes place every March.
A cave in the vicinity is said to lead to a vast underground lake.
Freemount (Cillín an Chrónáin) is a small village that has undergone a lot of recent development. The local community enjoys high respect in traditional music circles.
Freemount Heritage Centre, a converted early Victorian schoolhouse, is used mainly as a venue for concerts and sessions.
Freemount is close to Meelin on ByRoute 6.