Old Head Castle
Old Head Castle, sometimes also known as De Courcy Castle or Downmacpatrick/Dunmacpatrick Castle, lies south of the town of Kinsale, in County Cork in Ireland.
Old Head Castle is said to have been built by Cearmna, an Irish chieftain, in about the 3rd century, and was then known as Dún Cearmna (Cearmna's fort). The territory was a portion of the lands granted to Milo de Cogan by Henry II. It was inherited by his son Richard, whose only daughter married Milo de Courcy. Her dowry consisted of Old Head Castle, along with Ringrone Castle. Milo de Courcy built new castles at both locations in about 1223. Milo was the grandson of the famous Norman knight Sir John de Courcy.
In 1261 Milo de Courcy defeated and killed Fineen MacCarthy Mór at his Ringrone Castle. A feud between the two families followed, lasting for over 240 years. Through the intervention of the English court, the MacCarthys gained control of Old Head Castle in the late 16th century. Owen MacCarthy took up residence in the castle, while the De Courcys made futile attempts to regain it. Owen handed it over to his nephew Florence, whom the English considered one of the most dangerous men in Munster, and they were forced to act. The English gained control in 1600, just before the Spanish force landed in Kinsale.
Old Head Castle is essentially a long wall with several towers, closing off the peninsula of the Old Head of Kinsale. The peninsula was already used as a promontory fort in pre-Christian times. In front of the wall, a ditch was dug. The strong tower next to the gate would have been the keep of the castle.
At present access to the Old Head of Kinsale peninsula is prohibited as it is the site of an expensive golf course. So the castle can only be viewed from its landward side. It is still an impressive site. Nearby is also a Napoleonic era signal tower: Old Head Signal Tower. The last picture was taken from atop that tower during a more recent visit.