Carrigafoyle Castle is one of Kerry’s hidden historic gems and well worth a visit. The castle was built in the 1490s by O’Connor Kerry and has five storeys rising to a height of 86 feet. It’s name Carrigafoyle come from from the Irish ‘Carrig an Phoill’ (Rock of the Hole). It stands on the edge of the Shannon estuary in a channel between the mainland and Carrig Island. This would have been a strategic location enabling the chieftain to board ships going up the Shannon to Limerick to demand some of their cargo to secure safe passage, a common practice until the middle of the 16th century. The castle had a small dock allowing boats to sail and moor beside the tower.
This remote location has a dramatic history. In 1580 the castle was besieged by English forces, under Sir William Pelham, during which canon fire-power was used for the first time in Kerry. The castle was being held at the time for the Earl of Desmond by Captain Julian, an Italian engineer with fifty Irish men and a troupe of sixteen Spanish soldiers. The walls of the castle were breached on the second day and all were either killed in the battle or subsequently put to death. The Seige of Carrigafoyle Castle took place on Palm Sunday 1580 and was part of the English crown’s campaign, known as the Desmond Wars, against the forces of Gerald Fitzgerald, 15th Earl of Desmond.
You can climb the spiral staircase to the top for a good view of the Shannon estuary including Carrig Island and Scattery Island. A wide spiral staircase of 104 steps leads to the battlements. The castle was occupied in the last century by a Dr Fitzmaurice and his family despite its ruined condition.
Care should be taken. Not suitable for young children.