Desmond Castle lies in the center of the town of Kinsale, in County Cork in Ireland.
Desmond Castle, an urban tower house, was built around 1500 by Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Desmond. It was built as the Customs House of Kinsale. It consists of a 3 storey keep with storehouses to the rear.
In 1600 and 1601 it was used as an arsenal by Don Juan Aguilla during the Spanish occupation of the town which lasted for 100 days prior to the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. Afterwards it was again used as a Customs House until 1641, when it was converted into a naval prison, following the construction of a new Customs House. The prisoners kept in the castle were mainly French prisoners of war, captured at sea. Hence, the castle became known locally as the "French Prison".
In 1747 a fire in the castle killed 54 prisoners. In 1791 the castle was donated to the town of Kinsale and subsequently became the town's jail until 1846. During the Great Famine, the castle was used as a workhouse.
In the early 20th century, Desmond Castle had fallen into decay. In the 1990's it was restored.
At present Desmond Castle houses the International Museum of Wine. The museum however is only open during the touristic season. The first times I visited, it was closed but it was open during my last visit. I found the museum to be not very interesting but it is nice to view the castle's interior. It can be visited for a fee.