Ross Castle, County Kerry

There are few castles anywhere in Ireland that can boast such a dream-like enchanted setting as this ruined tower house on the shore of Killarney's Lower Lake. Built in the late fifteenth century, it is fairly typical of its type, with square bartizans on diagonally opposite corners and a thick end wall containing a tier of chambers and a winding mural stair.

The tower stands within a square bawn defended by round corner towers, two of which survive, the others having been removed in 1688 to make room for an extension, the ruins of which remain on the south side of the castle.

The castle was the chief seat of the O'Donaghue Mors, hereditary rulers of this district and descendants of the ancient kings of Munster. After the Desmond rebellion their fortified lands were acquired by the MacCarthy Mors from whom they were purchased by Sir Valentine Browne, ancestor of the Earls of Kenmare. In 1652 the castle was held by Lord Muskerry against a Cromwellian force of 1,500 foot and 700 horse soldiers, commanded by Edmond Ludlow. It fell after floating batteries were brought over land to bombard it from the lough as well as from the land. The Brownes, who retained the old faith, remained in the castle until they lost their estates in 1690 for supporting the Jacobite cause. Although their lands were recovered around 1720, they were unable to regain possession of the castle, which had been taken over as a military barracks. They subsequently built a grand new house a little further to the north, close to the town, and in time the old castle was incorporated as a picturesque feature of its landscape park.

Located 1.5 miles SW of Killarney on Ross Island within Kenmare Demesne, now incorporated within Killarney National Park.
NGR: V 949887. National Monument.
Open daily May - September. Admission fee charged.
Access by guided tour only. Tours limited to 15 people only.
Exhibitions and excellent collection of old furniture.