Ballynacarriga Castle,
County Cork

The hall or living-room of Irish tower houses sometimes doubled up as a chapel, though rarely were the occupants so devotional as to embellish the room with religious carvings. The Hurleys of Ballynacarriga appear to have been an exception, for the top-floor window embrasures of their castle have stone carvings mostly of a religious nature. One of the windows has a representation of the Crucifixion with the Instruments of Passion nearby - the carvings are dated 1585. The opposite window has intricate carvings around a chessboard design with the figure of a woman with five roses, thought to be the Blessed Virgin, though some believe it to represent the first owner and her five children.

Despite the date on the window soffit of the top floor, the castle was probably built in the mid 16th century or earlier. There is a good sheela-na-gig above the main door, while the remnants of a round corner tower can be seen outside. During the Confederate War of 1641-52, the Hurleys supported their overlord, Lord Muskerry (MacCarthy More), and in consequence the castle was dismantled by Cromwellian troops and their lands forfeited. It is believed that the ruin continued to serve as a chapel until 1815.

7 km (4.5 miles) SW of Ballineen and 1.6 km (1 mile) S of Manch Bridge. NGR: W 290509.