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07-05-2014, 22:09   #1
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Aghamarta Castle

I'm basically looking for more information on Aghamarta Castle as information is sparse and fragmentary at best.

Aghamarta (Irish: Achadh Mhártain) in the barony of Kerrycurrihy (Ciarraí Cuirche), in the parish of Teampall Bríde (Templebreedy) translates as the plane of Martin. (Bunachar Logainmneacha na hÉireann 2014) Within the grounds of Aghamarta demesne are vestiges of the ancient castle of that same name, also a Norman keep of the Desmonds. It belonged from the middle of the 16th century to John de Wynchedon. (Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 1959) (Butler 1842) (Caulfield 1879) South-west of Monkstown is Ringaskiddy, or the promontory of the Skiddys, a Cork Danish-descended family. Near the village of Ringaskiddy stood the Castle of Miles de Cogan, one of the first of the Normans who settled here. This castle (Barnahely) was knocked down to make room for the (now ruined) mansion known as Castle warren. A couple of miles south of Ringaskiddy runs the owneabue River, on whose southern bank, hidden amongst the trees round Aghamarta House, is the small tower, all that now remains of Aghamarta Castle, which was built by the first Earl of Desmond, and was subsequently held by the Wynchedons or Nugents. Maurice FitzThomas FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Desmond was an Irish nobleman in the Peerage of Ireland, Captain of Desmond Castle in Kinsale, for a short time Lord Justice of Ireland. He led a rebellion against the Crown, and was suspected of aiming to make himself King of Ireland, but he was ultimately restored to favour. In 1345 he presided at an assembly of Anglo-Irish magnates at Callan, Co. Kilkenny, ignored a summons to attend the Irish Parliament and attacked Nenagh. It took two years to crush his rebellion and Maurice FitzThomas FitzGerald only surrendered on a promise that his life would be spared. He was imprisoned and his lands forfeited while he awaited trial. He was allowed to go under guard to England to answer the charges against him and, realizing that Ireland could not be governed without the support of the local Lords and magnates, in 1348 he was released and pardoned in 1349, gaining back his forfeited lands. (Burke 1866) (Cokayne 1912) (Otway-Ruthven 1995) (Otway-Ruthven 1980) (Otway-Ruthven 2008)
Richard Sainthill described Aghamarta as such:

Aughamartyn, now called Aghamarta Castle, held from Lord Haberton by a Mr. Jago, then by Col. Hodder, purchased by Carew Smith O’Grady, brother to the Chief Baron. He told me his title went back to Charles II, who granted it to some person. It must therefore have been a forfeiture in the rebellion of 1641. There is an old story told to me by an old man, who had it from another old man then 105 years old and who remembered the bridge of Aughamartyn being built, and in laying the foundations the crane of the old gallows was removed, where the Nugents hanged anybody who injured them to the value of sixpence. The last of them was Bridget Nugent, a widow woman, who had no law but her own will.
flemishgael is offline  
08-05-2014, 21:24   #2
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It is a tower house in the townland of Aghamarta, Co Cork and is described in Volume II of the Archaeological Inventory of Co Cork as follows:

Description: In level pasture, within demesne of Aghmarta House. Remains of rectangular tower (10m N-S; 8.5m E-W); survive to three storeys, though part of S wall only portion standing at 2nd floor level; upper storeys blown down in storm of 1839 (Coleman 1915, 59). Ground floor now entered through door with rotten wooden frame at W end of N wall, tower appears to have been repaired in 19th century; blocked ope at E end of N wall may be original entrance; remains of two windows opes in both E and W wall. At 1st floor level round-arched door in centre of N wall; central window ope in W, S and E walls, all with flat-headed lights and arched embrasures. First floor covered by rounded vault (axis N-S). Lower steps of spiral stone staircase survive at SW corner, housed in collapsed corner tower which is apparently an addition. Known as Aghamarta Castle; according to Coleman (ibid.) built by first Earl of Desmond but O Murchadha (1967, 18) states that castle 'first heard of in the mid-16th century when it was the residence of the Wynchedon or Nugent family', however, by late 16th century in possession of Russells who were 'hereditary castellans to the Earl of Desmond' (ibid.,19).

The above description is derived from the published 'Archaeological Inventory of County Cork. Volume 2: East and South Cork' (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1994). In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.

[The text above in italics is copied from, and originates from Vol II of the Cork Inventory].

You can see the castle on old maps by following this link:,576641,560943,7,7
Click on the Historic 6" (mid-1800s) and Historic 25" (c.1900) to see the older maps.

It is a few years since I visited the site, but as far as I recall I had issues with the description quoted above - I felt that the entire front of the tower house had collapsed and the doorways mentioned in the descriptions were originally internal features, the original front doorway having been lost with the front wall. I also felt the stair had not been in a collapsed corner turret as suggested, but that it was contained (along with the front doorway, the entrance lobby etc) with the smaller (collapsed) section of a rectangular tower house as is common in Munster.

I can't see how it could have been built by the 1st earl of Desmond (who died in 1356) as suggested by Coleman - to me the tower house is more likely to have been built in the period 1450 - 1550.
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09-05-2014, 06:11   #3
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I have found it on maps indeed and been to the castle couple of times.
I, like you, believe the current structure is 15th century but a FitzGerald might have build a previous structure in the 14th century.
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