Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Glanworth Castle and Friary, County Cork

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North Cork is a beautiful part of the country, and alongside the banks of the River Funcheon that winds its way through the rich pastureland you can find Glanworth, a village full of heritage and history with a number of great medieval buildings to explore.

Glanworth is thought to be associated with a branch of the Eoghanacht, the ancient ruling dynasty of Munster during the early medieval period, however no visible remains from that time can be seen today. Instead much of the historic structures in the village date to the medieval period, following the Norman invasions. This area of Cork was granted to two brothers called de Caunteton (whose later descendants became Condon). They constructed a castle with a manor and town. By the end of the thirteenth century, Glanworth passed into the hands of David Roche through marriage, and his descendants remained there until they lost their lands after the Cromwellian confiscations in the seventeenth century.


The first place we stopped at Glanworth was at the medieval friary. This was founded by the Roaches for the Dominican Order in 1475. Unfortunately only the church remains of the monastic site as there are no above ground traces of all the other monastic buildings including the dormitory, cloisters and refectory. The church is quite plain, a long rectangular building with a tall tower. It does have a very fine window on the eastern wall and is well worth a visit if you’re in the village.

The fine gothic east window in Glanworth Friary
You can access Glanworth Castle through the grounds of the lovely Glanworth Mill. The castle is strategically positioned high on a rock outcrop and would have been an effective defensive position overlooking a key crossing point of the River Funcheon. 
Glanworth Castle positioned high on the limestone outcrop
It was first constructed by the de Cauntetons in the thirteenth century. Archaeological excavations at the castle revealed that the castle was constructed in four key phases, the first phase was a simple rectangular hall-keep surrounded by a strong wall which had a gatehouse in the western side. The main structure was the hall-keep, which served both as a defensive redoubt and a lordly residence, 
The hall-keep at Glanworth

this type of building was usually split into two floors with the ground floor being defensive and the upper floor containing the great hall and domestic quarters. You can see other similar examples of Glanworth’s hall-keep at Rindoon in County Roscommon and at the Rock of Dunamase in County Laois. Soon after the first phase was completed, the gatehouse was extended and converted into a domestic residence. During the fifteenth century in the third phase of the castle, the gatehouse was transformed into a fashionable towerhouse. During the fourth and final stage of construction at Glanworth in the early seventeenth century, a kitchen was constructed inside the walls. The castle was badly damaged by the Cromwellian General Ireton’s artillery in 1649, and never recovered as a defensive site.
You can get some lovely views over the River from the castle, where you can see the beautiful sixteenth or seventeenth century bridge.

Glanworth Castle
We did not get a chance to see it ourselves, but the ruined nineteenth century Church of Ireland church is on the site of where the medieval parish church would have been, and apparently you can still see traces of this earlier church, with medieval graveslabs reused as headstones and parts of medieval walls are still visible. 

The town of Glanworth is certainly worth a visit, and there are a number of great heritage sites nearby too like the impressive Labbacallee Wedge Tomb.

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Glanworth Castle