Posts Tagged With: Transition Year

The Castles of Midleton

This week we were delighted to have Jenny O’Brien of Christ King Girls Secondary School in South Douglas working in Rubicon’s Midleton Office. Jenny is a Transition Year student, and was with us to learn more about the work we do in archaeology and heritage. As part of that, Jenny undertook a project for the Midleton Archaeology & Heritage blog to look at some local castles in the area. Jenny spent time researching a number of them before writing up her findings. Today she took to the field to photograph the sites and to share what she found with readers. Jenny has prepared the post below for us; everyone at Rubicon would like to thank her for her help, and for exploring the story of some of these sites for us!

Location of the Castles discussed in the text (Hannah Sims)

Location of the Castles discussed in the text (Hannah Sims)

Ballyvodock West

Ballyvodock West is a roughly square tower. Only the ground floor remains, except in the South-East corner where the first floor wall survives. (1) The Hodnetts, William and John Oge, were in residence here in 1582. John fitz Edmund Oge died in 1597 in possession of Ballyvodock West, which was then inherited by his son, William. In 1621, William mortgaged the property to Ludovic O’Cahill. (3) How Ballyvodock West came to be in ruins is something of a mystery. Some sources say it was destroyed by gunpowder in the last decade of the 17th century. (3) Other sources say it was blown up in the 1640s, during the Eleven Years War. (6)

Ballyvodock West Castle (Jenny O'Brien)

Ballyvodock West Castle (Jenny O’Brien)


Cahermone is a rectangular tower. Today, it is four storeys tall, although it was originally higher. It has an early 17th century appearance. (1) Cahermone was built around 1450 by John Fitzgerald.(8) In 1571, John fitz Edmund of Cloyne acquired the land and took up residence here. (3) In the farmyard, there is an arch stone inscribed with the date 1579, when John fitz Edmund may have renovated the house. (2) John fitz Edmund of Cloyne was then driven into Cork City by his cousin and namesake, John fitz Edmund of Castlemartyr, Seneschal of Imokilly. He returned to Cahermone in 1583. He later abandoned Cahermore for Ballymalloe. (3) In the 1650s, Cahermone was passed to Sir John Broderick. It is now situated on the private grounds of a farm. (8)

Cahermone Castle (Jenny O'Brien)

Cahermone Castle (Jenny O’Brien)


Coppingerstown is located in a farmyard. It is four storeys tall, with a conjoined one storey structure. It is connected with the Coppinger and Cotter families. (1) William Shane Cotter lived at Coppingerstown in the mid-16th century, but owned a lot of land elsewhere. The Cotters mortgaged the bulk of their land to John fitz Edmund of Cloyne, who occupied Cahermone. By 1589, Shane Ode MacCotter, brother and heir to William, had only Coppingerstown and Gearagh to leave to his son. In 1638, Shane’s grandson, William, mortgaged Coppingstown to Charles Caldwell, an Anglican clergyman. William’s lands were confiscated by the Cromwellian administration in the early 1650s. (3) Unfortunately the surviving elements of this castle appear to have recently collapsed.

Coppingerstown Castle (Jenny O'Brien)

Coppingerstown Castle (Jenny O’Brien)


Ballintotis is a small, four storey tower. There is no door to the second floor, and it was probably entered through a manhole from below. Very little of its history is known. (4) Some consider the theory that the tower may have been part of the ‘outer defences’ of nearby Castlemartyr. (5) The tower was granted to George Moore in 1579, but was recovered soon after by the Fitzgeralds. (6)

Ballintotis Castle (Jenny O'Brien)

Ballintotis Castle (Jenny O’Brien)


There is no visible surface trace of Castleredmond. (1) The site has been excavated, starting in June 2001 when three test-trenches were dug. They revealed a 1 metre section of the wall, 0.7 metres in height, made of limestone blocks. In December of that year, three more test-trenches were excavated and they exposed the limestone bedrock. Most of the remainder of the site has been filled with stone. (7)
This castle was ruinous by 1625. It was written by a man called Lewis in the 1840s that Castleredmond was built by a Redmond Fitzgerald during the reign of Henry VIII. Lewis then contradicted himself by saying that the last pre-Reformation Roman Catholic bishop of Cloyne was born in the castle. The bishop he refers to appears to have been part of a family living in Castlemartyr. Several sources say that Castleredmond may have been part of Corabbey. Corabbey was then owned by the Barry family, who seemed to be very connected to the Redmond family, as their names appear together often. (3)

Castleredmond Castle (Site Of) (Jenny O'Brien)

Castleredmond Castle (Site Of) (Jenny O’Brien)


Ballyannan was a two storey, fortified house with an attic, and is now roofless. (1) The first building on the land was owned by the Hodnett family. (8) By 1601 the Hodnetts appear to have lost control of Ballyannan. Edward Gould, a Cork merchant, had the land in his possession by 1641. (3) In 1653, Sir John Broderick, a Cromwellian settler, took possession of the estate and rebuilt it into the fortified Tudor mansion that we see in the ruins today. (8)

Ballyannan Castle (Jenny O'Brien)

Ballyannan Castle (Jenny O’Brien)

1. “Archaeological Inventory of County Cork. Volume 2: East and South Cork”
2. “The Old Castles around Cork Harbour” – J. Coleman, 1915
3. “The Chronicles of Midleton” – Jeremiah Falvey, 1998
4. “Antiquarian Remains and Historic Spots around Cloyne” – J. Coleman, 1913
5. “The Castles of County Cork” – J. N. Healy, 1988
6. “The Castles of South Munster” – Mike Salter, 2004
7. – Sheila Lane, Consulting Archaeologist

Categories: Midleton Archaeology | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

William Penn: Quaker, Founder of Pennsylvania and Occasional Resident of East Cork

Rob Mitchell has been continuing his great work each week in the Rubicon Office’s on the Midleton Heritage Project. Having compiled a database of references in the witness statements to the IRA in Midleton during the War of Independence, he has also been looking at local castles in the area, and is currently compiling information on those who lived on Midleton’s Main Street during the 1901 Census. In his latest post Rob looks at local connections with the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

William Penn was born on October 14th 1644. He was the son of Sir William Penn, an English admiral and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1660 to 1670. The younger William was educated first at Chigwell School, by private tutors whilst in Ireland, and later at Christ Church, Oxford. After a failed mission to the Caribbean, Admiral Penn and his family were exiled to his lands in Ireland. It was during this period, when Penn was about fifteen, that he met Thomas Loe, a Quaker missionary, who was maligned by both Catholics and Protestants. Loe was admitted to the Penn household and during his discourses on the “Inner Light”, young Penn recalled later that “the Lord visited me and gave me divine Impressions of Himself.” After many years, the free-minded William Penn announced publicly that he was a Quaker. He did so in an attempt to slip past charges stating that since Quakers had no political agenda they could not be subject to laws that restricted political action by minority religions and other groups.

Penn Castle, Shanagarry (

Penn Castle, Shanagarry (

In 1669 Penn travelled to Ireland to deal with many of his father’s estates. Whilst there he attended meetings and stayed with leading Quaker families. He became great friends with William Morris, a leading Quaker figure in Cork, and often stayed with Morris at Castle Salem near Rosscarbery. He also owned a castle and estate which he inherited through his family in Shanagarry. Known as ‘Penn Castle’ it still stands today and offers a permanent reminder of East Cork’s links with Pennsylvania.

As the prosecution of Quakers began to accelerate rapidly and with religious conditions deteriorating, Penn decided to appeal directly to the King. Penn proposed a solution which would solve the dilemma—a mass emigration of English Quakers. Some Quakers had already moved to North America, but the New England Puritans, especially, were as hostile towards Quakers as Anglicans in England. Some had even been banished to the Caribbean. In 1677, a group of prominent Quakers that included Penn purchased the colonial province of West Jersey (half of the current state of New Jersey). That same year, two hundred settlers from the towns of Chorleywood and Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire and other towns in nearby Buckinghamshire arrived, and founded the town of Burlington. In 1682, East Jersey was also purchased by Quakers.

With the New Jersey foothold in place, Penn pressed his case to extend the Quaker region. Whether from personal sympathy or political expediency, to Penn’s surprise, the King granted an extraordinarily generous charter which made Penn the world’s largest private (non-royal) landowner. In possession of over 45,000 square miles, Penn became the sole proprietor of a huge tract of land west of New Jersey and north of Maryland (which belonged to Lord Baltimore), and gained sovereign rule of the territory with all rights and privileges (except the power to declare war). The land of Pennsylvania had belonged to the Duke of York, who acquiesced in the transfer, but he retained New York and the area around New Castle and the eastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula. In return, one-fifth of all gold and silver mined in the province (which had virtually none) was to be remitted to the King, and the Crown was freed of a debt to Admiral Penn of £16,000, equal to £2,120,595 today.

Penn first called the area “New Wales”, then “Sylvania” (Latin for “forests or woods'”), which King Charles II changed to “Pennsylvania” in honor of the elder Penn. On March 4, 1681, the King signed the charter and the following day Penn jubilantly wrote, “It is a clear and just thing, and my God who has given it me through many difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation.” In 1682 in England, he drew up a Frame of Government for the Pennsylvania colony. Freedom of worship in the colony was to be absolute, and all the traditional rights of Englishmen were carefully safeguarded. Penn drafted a charter of liberties for the settlement creating a political utopia guaranteeing free and fair trial by jury, freedom of religion, freedom from unjust imprisonment and free elections.

East Cork’s connections with William Penn are being celebrated as part of the The Gathering. The William Penn Symposium will be held in The Kilkenny Shop, Shanagarry on 25th August 2013. For more details on the event see here.

Categories: Famous Links | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hilltop Enclosure at Curragh Woods

Rubicon were very fortunate last week to have Transition Year student Ruth Murphy working with us. Ruth spent much of her week examining a hilltop enclosure in Curragh Woods, as part of the Midleton Archaeology & Heritage Project. Ruth researched the enclosure, conducted a site visit, and wrote up her findings to share on the blog (she even produced the accompanying graphics!). She tells us below what was discovered regarding the site.

Louise Baker of Rubicon Heritage, and TY student Ruth Murphy recently paid a visit to a hilltop enclosure situated in the beautiful Curragh Woods, just north of the busy market town of Midleton, Co. Cork, as part of the Midleton Archaeology and Heritage Project.

Location of the Curragh Woods enclosure

Location of the Curragh Woods enclosure

The woods are situated between the townlands of Curragh, Ballynaclashy, Ballyedmond, Ballycurranny and Ballyleary, on either side of a valley of the Owennacurra and Leamlara rivers. The nearby Ballyedmond Estate was once home to the Courtenays and Barrys, but the house no longer exists. This valley is a popular area for recreational activities, such as hiking and mountain biking, due to its woodland paths, steep terrain, scenic views and proximity to Midleton. Various archaeological sites have been discovered in the vicinity, such as ringforts, fulachtaí fiadh, and souterrains, but we decided to focus on the hilltop enclosure in the south-western section of the woods.

Aerial view of the enclosure in Curragh Woods

Aerial view of the enclosure in Curragh Woods

This enclosure is too large to be described as a ringfort, but “the area enclosed falls well short of an average hillfort, and  bivallate defences are not typical of Irish hillforts”, according to Professor Barry Raftery, so this feature is very difficult to date, although hilltop enclosures generally date to the Iron or Bronze Ages. The inner bank has an interior height of 0.55m, exterior height 1.7m, while the outer bank has interior height 1.2m, exterior 1.6m, and these are separated by a fosse, with an outer fosse 0.5m deep also. These walls surround an area about 75 metres in diameter, mainly covered by bracken and brambles, with the entrance to the north-west.  It is skirted by coniferous plantation from west to north-east. Situated on a prominent site, with ground falling away steeply to the south and east, it commands a sweeping view of the surrounding countryside to the south and south-east, as well as Midleton town and glimpses of Cork Harbour. The location of the site is probably due to the ease of access to the river, and its view of the countryside. The openness of the enclosure may also have been used to display the wealth of those who owned it, or to communicate with (or keep an eye on!)  the nearby ringforts.

View of the outer bank of the hilltop enclosure at Curragh Woods

View of the outer bank of the hilltop enclosure at Curragh Woods

A similar, smaller enclosure, with just one bank can be found in the south-eastern section of the woods, on a slope facing the Ballyedmond Estate, while a number of raths exist to the north and east. Two fulachtaí fiadh are visible as mounds of burnt  material in the north-western leg of the woods and in the east. On a hillside above the Leamlara-Carrigtwohill Road there is a burial ground and holy well to the east, the holy well still being used for religious ceremonies on August 15th.

Ruth stands between the inner and outer banks of the enclosure at Curragh Woods

Ruth stands between the inner and outer banks of the enclosure at Curragh Woods

If you want to check out this fantastic area for yourself, you should take the R626 out of Midleton, continue for about 6km until you reach the smaller Leamlara-Carrigtwohill Road through the wooded valley, where you will find a gravel parking area. From here, you can visit the enclosures, holy well and raths, hike through Curragh Woods (or if you’re really adventurous, bike or horseride!) or simply wander around and view the picturesque Cork countryside!

We would like to thank Ruth for her work on this site- and her superb description of it- we hope that you take her advice to visit!

The ruins of a vernacular building present on the north slope of the Curragh Woods enclosure

The ruins of a vernacular building present on the north slope of the Curragh Woods enclosure

Categories: Prehistory | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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