Connagh Castle, County Cork

Resembling some sort of medieval skyscraper, this captivating tower house rises about 85 feet from a great limestone bluff overlooking the lovely rich countryside of the Brade Valley. It was built in the 1550s by Sir Thomas Roe FitzGerald, who by right should have succeeded to the title and vast lands of his father, the fourteenth Earl of Desmond. His claim was disallowed, however, in favour of his younger half-brother, Garrett, who became the fifteenth Earl of Desmond. This latter Earl, as is well known, was goaded into a rebellion in which he lost everything, including his life, in 1583. Thomas Roe took no part in this war and died peacefully at Conna in 1595, but his claim to the earldom passed to his eldest son James, who was known as the "Sugan Earl" because his claim to the title seemed sure to fail - as indeed it did. After joining the revolt in 1599, the "Sugan Earl" was betrayed by a kinsman, captured and taken to the Tower of London, where he died. That year Conna was taken by the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Essex, and partly dismantled. It was later granted to Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, who repaired the property, but in 1645 it was captured by Confederate forces under Lord Castlehaven and the men of the garrison were put to the sword. The tower's history came to a sad end in 1653 when it was destroyed by a fire in which the three daughters of the steward were burnt to death.

Considering its dramatic history, the castle survives in good condition. It has five storeys, all linked by a winding mural stair, with a vault over the "Earl's room" on the first floor. Only a few fragments of the bawn remain, with a wall and outbuilding at the north-west corner.

Located 4 miles W of Tallow on the N side of the Cork road (L188).
NGR: W 931936. National Monument.
Access through a five-bar gate at E end of village.
Key obtainable from Garda Station at Ballynoe, 2 miles S.