Kilcoe National School

Skibbereen, Co. Cork

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Kilcoe Castle

A short distance down the road from our school, you will find a famous local landmark - Kilcoe Castle. It is owned by the famous British moviestar Jeremy Irons and his wife Sinead Cusack. They always come to Mass in Kilcoe Church on Christmas Day.


History of Kilcoe Castle


Clan Dermod Descended from Dermod Donn, a son of Donal Gott MacCarthy, Lord of Carbery (1205-1251) and was founded in the late 13th century. The clan possessed an extensive district in Carbery and the castles of Kilcoe and Cloghan. Little has been researched or written on the Clan Dermod and therefore an attempt has been made to relate the history of the castle with that of the clan.


The name Kilcoe comes from Cill Coiche (Church of St. Coch. a nun supposed to have been companion of St. Kieran) and is referred to as Cellcohi in the Decreatal Letter of 1199. The remains of the church are near to the castle.


Kilcoe castle was built around the year of 1450 by the Clan of Dermort McCarthy on a 2-acre island. These McCarthys were a sub-tribe of the McCarthy Rioch of Kilbrittan where they originated from Blarney. At this time McCarthy's were one of the leading families in Munster and had land all around Cork especially West Cork. They built the castle at this point, on the edge an Roaringwater bay because of its defensive position. Kilcoe castle is built on an island, one side of the island is too shallow for boats to enter and on the other side is Mannin island. This is the main reason why the English had so much trouble taking the castle because the ships couldn't get close enough for the cannons to accurately aim.


As the English forces began to take over Irish lands and castles, due to their superior strength the English had little problems in taking over castles in West Cork except for Kilcoe which was the only castle in Carbery (West Cork) to hold out in rebellion. Many of these castles were taken over by Captain Harvey, a cousin to Sir George Carew an English Commander, and he tried many times to take over Kilcoe castle. In 1600 Sir Richard Perry marched with some of the garrison of Kinsale in order to reduce Kilcoe. He didn't succeed but took 300 heads of cattle. This was one of the many attacks on the castle, but due to the bravery of the residents they failed.On the 20th of April 1602 the Earl of Thousand's men took shelter in the castle, one of these being Conor O'Driscoll. The castle survived along siege and during the siege all the occupants left the castle except for Conor. Finally in February 1603 Conor surrender to Captain George Flower, the subordinate of Captain Harvey. It was the last place in West Cork to do so. Before the long siege started Captain Harvey died of a broken heart at Baltimore because of his failure to capture Kilcoe Castle.


After the siege of the castle the older McCarthy lived and died in a small house in Mannin island. After the McCathy's left the castle it was occupied shortly by a number of English people. And after 1640 the castle was never occupied again. Since then the castle has passed through a number of hands. At the start of the 19th century the English left it for the people who farmer the land. Up to 1966 nobody owned the castle until James Caverly, the local farmer, registered the castle and in 1972 sold it to Edward F.Samuel. He built a bridge connecting the castle to the main land but decided not to restore it. He then sold to Jeremy Irons, who restored it to is former glory.

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This is Kilcoe Castle which is located just over the road from our school                

Our celebrity neighbours Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack