Charles Fort lies next to the village of Summercove, south of the town of Kinsale, in County Cork in Ireland.
The first fortification at this site was a medieval castle, called Ringcurran. This was destroyed in 1656 by order of Cromwell.
In the summer of 1667, the Earl of Orrery, Lord President of Munster, was re-organising the defence of Kinsale Harbour. A new extensive earthwork fortification was constructed on the site of the previous castle. These temporary earthworks were not easily maintained and in 1687, Royal Assent was given for the construction of a permanent stone fortification at the site. It was designed by William Robinson and named Charles Fort in honour of King Charles II.
In 1689, James II landed in Kinsale with French support in an attempt to regain the throne. His forces took control over Charles Fort and James Fort. In 1690 both forts were therefore attacked by Williamite forces under command of the Duke of Würtemburg, and John Churchill, later 1st Duke of Marlborough. James Fort surrendered first. Charles Fort withstood a siege of 13 days after which its defenders also surrendered. Repairs and improvements were made to the fort soon afterwards. The parapets of the ramparts and bastions were enlarged, the gun platforms improved, and a sally port was constructed adjoining the Devil's Bastion.
In the beginning of the 18th century more building work took place and a new gatehouse was built. Later on in the 18th century, more buildings were added even though Kinsale's importance had been overtaken by Cork Harbour.
During the Napoleonic War new quarters were build and extra guns were placed. The fort continued to be garrisoned throughout the 19th century. In 1921 the British forces left. During the Civil War most of the buildings were destroyed and the fort fell into decay. In 1973 it came into State care and was conservated.
A great fort where there is a lot to be seen. It can be visited for a fee. James Fort is on the opposite shore.