Castle with real history

Lohort Castle in Mallow has survived attackers from Cromwell to the IRA

Lohort Castle at Cecilstown, Mallow, was built during the reign of King John in 1184 and comes with 103 acres.

What is the fascination with castles? Stone cold and ruined for the most part, but with small apartments climbing to the skies, the appeal of being lord of all one surveys never dims, it appears.

And there is something that stirs the blood in the presence of ancient, fortified homes — the wonder of construction, the romance of history and the gore of battle too.

This week, the sale has concluded on one of the oldest Norman castles in Munster, Lohort Castle at Cecilstown, Mallow. And not only is this cut-stone property steeped in history, it has also been lived in for generations, even without its roof, which was destroyed by the IRA during the War of Independence.

Auctioneer Liam Mullins has finally flogged the ancient monument, following a number of previous attempts. Price was a factor. The property was initially put up for sale in 2006 guide priced at €2m, but when the property went sale agreed at an undisclosed price at the tail end of 2011, it’s likely to have been at or around the guide price of €550,000.

For that sum, the Irish-born buyer (although believed to be based in Indonesia) has also picked 103 acres — most of it in rough grazing and woodland, but a demesne, nonetheless.

The 800-years-old property was built during the reign of King John in 1184 (around the time of the Crusades). The castle passed into the hands of Donagh Óg McDonagh McCarthy in 1496, who rebuilt the tower — still standing, on 10’ thick walls tapering to a 6’ battlement at the top.

The property foiled Cromwell’s cannons (but not without a bloody slaughter), and survived to be gentrified by the Percival family in 1750, in time for the first earldom conferred on Sir John Percival, who spent a lot of money on the castle, no doubt to add weight to the family’s pedigree.

The Egmonts, who owned a vast chunk of north Cork land, held onto the property until the late 19th century, when it was purchased by new money in the shape of the O’Brien family, whose income came from public houses in Dublin.

The castle was unoccupied in the early 20th century, and was taken over by crown forces, at which stage it became a target.

What Cromwell couldn’t achieve, the IRA did, and the roof and top two floors were burned.

However, the property survived as a residence, thanks to solid concrete floors, and has been occupied since the 1920s by the McCabe family, whose last occupant has just sold the property through Liam Mullins and Associates.

There’s a deal of work to do for the new owner, not least the restoration of the castle, but also the taming of the neglected 103 acres.


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