Castle outlines - haunted or otherwise - are iconic images at this Samhain festival weekend, steeped in Celtic roots, marking the end of the harvest season and the onset of winter.
And, the crag-top setting of Carrigrohane Castle on a rocky limestone bluff when seen from across the Lee Valley is as dramatic an Irish residence and site as anyone could ask for.
Built atop a cliff precipice at what’s now the Carrigrohane Straight Road, it has roots to Norman times, and to the 16th century. It was later ruined, and then was reborn and redone in Tudor style, around 1849 by architects Deane and Woodward after they’d completed the Queens University Cork/UCC campus.
Dramatic from almost every angle, it has an extraordinary rich interior with carved fireplaces, mullioned windows, turrets, battlements and suitably brooding Tudor touches and timbers. It has has oil heating, TV and telephone, bidets and bathrooms and other mod cons, too.
Carrigrohane Castle has been the family home since 1976 of businessman Leo and Mary O’Brien, who raised three children here, including sons broadcaster Daire, and convicted fraudster and former socialite Breifne.
Set in a suitably defensive position at what would have been the boundary of the old city liberties, the castle appeared briefly on a property website in May of this year, guiding €2.5m. Now, with signed contracts it has been bought for an undisclosed sum on 16 acres.
It has been acquired by a development/investment company Oak3 Initiatives, headed by directors Michael McGee and Elizabeth O’Brien. Oak3 have also bought the Baltimore Harbour Hotel and Glandore’s Marine Hotel in the past year or two, as well as acquiring several Cork city properties.
Oak3 are now re-offering the castle on five private woodland acres, and they are expected to seek to exploit some development potential on the balance of the lands, about 11 acres with two lodges, just off the Model Farm Road and near the edge of Ballincollig.
This sale listing now is via Malcolm Tyrrell of estate agents Cohalan Downing, who guides the three-storey 4,000 sq ft six-bed castle and five acres of grounds at €1.5 million, noting previous refurbishments, and overall good condition for its venerable years. But, it needs some further attention, and future owners may keep it as a private home, he feels, or it may have corporate HQ types of use.
“The Cork house market has recovered, and activity in the €1-1.5 million category has not frightened anyone. This is of a different scale, in terms of what comes after a purchase, but it is a fantastic, historical building and a most interesting place,” Mr Tyrrell observes of his true, one-off offer. Its age and current condition means whoever buys this slice of Leeside history will have to pump considerable further sums into it.
Families associated with Carrigrohane Castle’s earliest structures include McCarthy, De Cogan, Barrett, St Leger (granted it by Elizabeth I), Baker, Wallis and the Hoare family by the 1700s, when it stood on 2,600 acres. Later occupants included McSwineys, and Burnetts, from 1946 to 1976 when it was bought and renovated by the O’Briens.
The castle’s accommodation includes dining room with minstrels’ gallery and carved stone fireplace, kitchen with Aga, study, games room, bar, drawing room with carved stone fireplace, ceiling beams and carved Tudor roses, and beamed library with black marble chimneypiece.
The top two floors have three bedrooms apiece, one’s en suite, and the uppermost floor under the pitched roof also has a sitting room, and superior views along the Lee valley from the castellated crown and battlement dormer windows. One turret is described as a walk-in wardrobe, and another turret houses a bathroom - quite properly described as a garderobe.
A keep-er. Carrigrohane Castle has seen good centuries and bad centuries. It’s there now for the taking.
Sq m 373 (4,000 sq ft)
Best Feature: Real castle