To the southwest of Ballincollig is a castle, which may date (in part) from the time of Edward III (1327-1377 AD) in the fourteenth century or the foundations may go back to the thirteenth century. There may even have been a motte and bailey there before the stone castle.
The castle, now in ruins stands on an isolated limestone rock in the midst of a plain and consists of a square keep, about forty feet in height, and enclosed bawn. There were several phases of building as shown by the plan in the book The Castles of South Cork by Mike Salter, 2004.
From the castle, there is an excellent view of the surrounding Maglin Valley and it would appear that the site was chosen as it was a good location for a defensive fort.
“County Cork is crowded with castles but most of them are of comparatively late date (15th or 16th century); very early castles are rare, but the county has some storybook examples. Ballincollig castle, set on a limestone bluff, is one such. Its curtain wall runs around the edge of the rock on which it stands, and inside is a slender central keep. It is believed to date from the time of King Edward III”. Daphne Pochin Mould in Discovering Cork, Published in 1991
History of castle
The early history of the castle is not clear but we do know that the Barretts, a Norman family purchased the lands of Ballincollig and possibly an early castle construction in 1468 from Robert Coll, a knight. In fact, Ballincollig may have got its name from the “Coll” name Baile an Choillaigh (town of the Colls). The Barrett family had travelled to Ireland with the Normans when they came to conquer Ireland in 1169 and had acquired extensive territory in County Cork.
By 1600, the Barretts had five castles, as shown on the 1602 Pacata Hibernia map: Castlemore (Mourne Abbey), Garrycloyne, Castleinch, Ballincollig and Cloghan McUllick (about 2 to 3 miles south or south west of Ballincollig). The Normans stone castle building phase in Ireland was from 1200, soon after they arrived (1169) to 1300 when times got more difficult for them for several reasons.
In the early 17th century, the Barretts lost Ballincollig Castle. In 1618, they had borrowed money from the Coppingers of Cork and when the Barretts couldn’t pay the money back, the Coppingers came into possession of the castle in 1630. Later, the castle was garrisoned both by Cromwell and also by James II. The castle was ruined by the end of the 1600s.
However, in the mid 1800s, Ballincollig Castle belonged to William Wise, D.L., J.P.” (Guys Cork Directory 1875-76) and the Wise family repaired the tower in 1857. A stone crest was inserted in the east wall of the tower with the letter “W” and the year “1857″ on it. It is still there in 2007.
Here is a link to photos of Ballincollig Castle on Flickr.
Article by Margaret Jordan and photos by Randy Jordan