Mitchelstown Castle, Co. Cork

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Where: Castle Park, Ballinwillin, Co. Cork, Ireland

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When: Unknown

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To begin the week one day late here is a magnificent building in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork. (As regards our last image, the dog's name was "Stop" - because every time he tried to run and play, his owner shouted "Stop!!")

On today's (dog free) image, sharon.corbet highlighted that it should be added to our "No Longer Standing" album. It now has been - because this 19th century castle was burned down during the Irish Civil War. Myrtle26, DannyM8, beachcomber, and guliolopez help establish some extra context for events in and around the castle prior to its destruction. And O Mac confirms that the castle's very stones were reused in the building of the abbey at Mount Mellary....

Photographer: Robert French

Collection: Lawrence Photograph Collection

Date: between ca. 1865-1914

NLI Ref: L_ROY_01072

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 9571
robertfrench williamlawrence lawrencecollection lawrencephotographicstudio thelawrencephotographcollection glassnegative nationallibraryofireland mitchelstowncastle mitchelstown northcork countycork kingstonestate earlofkingston baronkingston kingfamily arson

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    • 01/Nov/2016 09:13:32

    I'm afraid it's another for the "no longer standing" album. It was burned down on August 12, 1922.

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    • 01/Nov/2016 09:24:29

    We should look at this castle and many more before deploring other organisations of our day for cultural barbarism and ignorance

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    O Mac

    • 01/Nov/2016 09:57:54

    The monks at Mount Melleray used the stone to build their new Abbey.

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    • 01/Nov/2016 11:30:28

    We could all do WITHOUT "A Friend" like this... [[email protected]/30077052894/in/dateposted/]

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    • 01/Nov/2016 11:33:09

    The Estate was associated with this photo []

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    • 01/Nov/2016 11:49:21

    I would say that this is the later of Mr French's two-or-so visits to Mitchelstown castle. An earlier view, without benches, without ivy on the small building at right, but with two ladies lolling on the lawns, in what look like 1880s (?) frocks - - which might imply this is c.1900. Or not ?!

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    • 01/Nov/2016 12:00:34

    This one, possibly also from the later visit, shows an area fenced-off with chicken wire, and a hutch or box for an animal in the right foreground -

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    • 01/Nov/2016 12:07:54

    Balls! (Beware purple prose) ...

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    • 01/Nov/2016 12:09:16

    [] From 23rd July 1881 SERIOUS EVICTION RIOT AT MITCHELSTOWN. An unusual scene of tumult and violence was witnessed last week (says BRIEF of June 4) at Mitchelstown. The Countess of Kingston has extensive estates in this district, and the agitation put an end to the good relations which had previously subsisted between landlord and tenant. The full rent not having been paid proceedings were taken to recover the rent, and in some cases ejectment decrees were obtained. On May 27 the sub-sheriff of the County Cork proceeded to Mitchelstown for the purpose of carrying out these evictions on the Countess of Kingston's estates. He was accompanied by 250 police, a troop of Dragoons being also present. O'Mahony, the clerk in the estate office and acting agent, and Kelly, a rent warner, were present. The anger of the people who assembled during the first eviction was practically directed against those two. Eggs, stones, and other missiles were flung at them, some of the police and soldiers who formed their escort being struck. Three evictions having been carried out, the force proceeded to the other farms, the way to which took them through Mitchelstown. The crowd, according to one estimate, had now increased to between 10,000 and 12,000 persons, some of whom appeared to have been summoned from a distance. These attempted to obstruct the approach of the troops, assailing them with a shower of stones. The Police and the cavalry charged several times, but the rioters were driven off only to return in greater force and with more daring. As the troops were passing a brewery yard, near the entrance to Mitchelstown, stones were flung at them from behind the walls and other places of shelter. The police charged through the yard, dispersing the assailants at the point of the bayonet, wounding several, and cutting one man's jaw open. This was the most serious point during the day, but several charges had been previously made and many persons knocked down and hurt. Twelve soldiers were struck, and some of the police were also injured. One of the cavalry horses was killed by a blow from a stone, and the rider was hurt.

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    • 01/Nov/2016 12:39:09

    [[email protected]] Yes, the local history is not at all good. It got worse in 1887 -

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    • 01/Nov/2016 13:59:19

    As [[email protected]] and [] mention (and not at all seeming to suggest a justification for the events of 1922), the family associated with the castle had - at best - a very fractious relationship with the community at large. In the 1760s, the King family were (to local perceptions at least) on the "wrong side" of the sectarian politics which affected rural Cork and Tipp for several decades. (Where the Whiteboys agitated for tenant rights, and the subsequent suppression resulted in the execution of [for example] members of local RC clergy). In the 1790s, George King (viscount Kingsborough, 3rd Earl Kingston, and "lord" of the castle) was commander of the North Cork Militia. The notoriety of this militia stands out from the pages of even the more balanced historical texts covering the 1798 rebellion. In the 1800s, as the guys point-out, the Mitchelstown Massacre would have set the local population against the castle's owners. A feeling which would have been carried forward into the 1900s by the Plan of Campaign and events surrounded evictions. I offer this not to suggest of course that the arson events were something to be condoned. But it didn't occur in a vacuum....

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    • 01/Nov/2016 14:20:50 The 100,000-acre Mitchelstown estate......... That's a very big estate - more than half the size of County Louth!

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    • 01/Nov/2016 14:23:53

    Some interior shots of the castle from the NLI archive.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 02/Nov/2016 00:22:06

    Excellently insightful stuff as usual all. Album, description, tags and map all duly updated!

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    Bill Power Photography

    • 20/Mar/2017 23:21:31

    Mitchelstown Castle was the largest house in Ireland destroyed during the period of the War of Independence (1919-1921) and the Civil War (1922-1923). It was extensively looted before being burned. Afterwards, a judge of the Irish High Court described the looting and burning of the castle as an act of wanton destruction which served no military purpose. See my book about the Kingston estate, 'White Knights Dark Earls, the Rise and Fall of an Anglo-Irish Dynasty,' which to date is the only comprehensive published account of the burning of the castle (which formed part of my MA thesis. One of those involved with the looting and burning told me many years ago that destroying the castle had nothing to do with the Land War. Indeed, the Kingstons had been generally thought of as good landlords (if there really is such a thing). Another individual involved in the fire told me that burning the castle had nothing to do with whether the Kingstons were good landlords or bad landlords. 'It was just time to get rid of the bastards'. The looting was carried over several days fprior to the fire, and many of the looted objects are still in the Mitchelstown area (including a piano). The burning was carried out under a general order from Liam Lynch, then Chief of Staff of the Republican Army. In the days leading up to 13th August 1922, numerous other structures in North Cork were destroyed, including the two military barracks in Fermoy, Kilworth Military Camp, Kilworth Old Soldiers' Home, Fermoy Military Hospital, Ballyvonaire Military Camp, Moorepark Camp, Mitchelstown Workhouse, police barracks and military barracks, the military barracks in Buttevant, the railway viaduct in Mallow, as well as dozens of bridges.