1,000-year-old piece of rollicking Cork history on sale for €2m

Stirring tales around the dinner table on the menu at history-steeped Blackwater Castle 
1,000-year-old piece of rollicking Cork history on sale for €2m

Blackwater Castle Castletownroche

Castletownroche, North Cork 

€2m

Size

890 sq m (9579 sq ft +courtyard)

Bedrooms

9

Bathrooms

12

BER

Exempt

IT’S more than a cliché to note that Americans love Irish and European castles and so, it will be little surprise if the next owners of the history-steeped Blackwater Castle come to it from over the Atlantic ocean, and up the rivers Blackwater and its tributary, the Awbeg, to Castletownroche.

Blackwater Castle Castletownroche
Blackwater Castle Castletownroche

Reasons why it might be a good dollar bet include the fact the dollar is currently so strong vs the euro and sterling, as well as the fact a cadre of US-based property seekers have already been to the fore in another 2022 Co Cork castle estate offering which has soared past its €2.95m guide.

Indications are that Dripsey Castle Estate which featured here extensively only a few months back will be one of the year’s strongest Munster sales, making as much as double the guide if and when it closes out to its new owners in early 2023. 

Dripsey Castle
Dripsey Castle

Dripsey Castle Interior
Dripsey Castle Interior

Agents there, Lisney/Sotheby’s would only confirmed exceptional interest and nearly all of it from the US.

And, separately, sources say the new American owners of Lissard Estate in West Cork are looking to add to their initial Irish purchase, and have 'run the rule' over Ballinacurra House near Kinsale among other notable hospitality possibilities.

Ballinacurra House
Ballinacurra House

Enter Blackwater Castle, with a future as a private or public venue, and where occupants to date have been Irish chieftains, Anglo, Norman, and Nordic.

Blackwater Castle
Blackwater Castle

Selling agent for Blackwater Castle, Roseanne De Vere Hunt of Sherry FitzGerald Christies says she’s already had good interest in the €2m-guided Blackwater Castle after “a number of viewings and good US interest. No offers as yet, but plenty of questions after the viewings,” she adds of a place deep in lore and heritage, and, indeed, steeped in bragging rights.

There’s over 1,000 years of history, and earlier Bronze Age finds (flints, etc) on the grounds predating the current structure, which include a Norman tower, and a 15th century wing, with subsequent rooms added in later centuries.

Sheela na Gig
Sheela na Gig

It hosts a resident Sheela Na Gig fertility stone icon; a murder hole remains from days of warfare and ‘visitors ’ (some less welcome than others) include the likes of Oliver Cromwell, Sir Walter Raleigh, Michael Jackson and President Michael D Higgins.

It has also hotel numerous weddings (the Sheela Na Gig, moved up from the lower grounds by the Awbeg river to the Norman keep decades ago must have prompted some good wishes for new brides) and private functions since it last changed hand in the early 1990s, when it was bought by a family from Finland, the Nordstrums, reinstating a Viking link of sorts with the district.

The Nordstrums, Patrick and Sheila, set up a trust to enable it to ‘wash its face’ as a commercial entity, capable of hosting functions for up to 70, with overflow accommodation in converted courtyard buildings which also served as a base for adventure activities.

Earlies links were to families such as FitzGerald and FitzHugh, and later the Roche family who ‘married in’ and the barony between Fermoy and Mallow became known as Roche Country. Roche Castle passed to a Colonel John Widenham in the mid 1600s, and stayed as Castle Widenham for three centuries, before the sixth Baronet of Rockforest, Sir Delaval Cotter and his wife bought in the 1970s, restoring the tower.

It subsequently changed hands several times before the Nordstrums bought in 1991, and they started the ‘paying guests’ business in 2005, creating nine suites in the main castle capable of sleeping 26, and another 45 or so can b accommodated in the courtyard rooms and dorms.

Now, new horizons beckon once more in what Ms De Vere Hunt bills as a “a true medieval site of architectural importance,” and says it qualifies as one of the oldest habitable house in Ireland.”

 It comes on 60 acres by the pretty village of Castletownroche and the Awbeg river, long associate with the poet Spencer, has woodland, wild gardens and a walled garden with orchard, has its own well dedicated to St Patrick, and double bank fishing rights for a kilometre stretch of the river which winds around the castle and keep on a 70’ rocky promontory.

VERDICT: More than a slice of history, it's a wedge of time.

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