In search of Ightermurragh Castle

Ightermurragh Castle features in several websites, it is on many maps, it should be easy to find it!  But it isn’t that easy! Built in 1641, by Irish standards it is not very old but, my God !  when you stand near it  you cannot but be impressed by the grandeur, the imposing building and  the almost strange anomalies – bits of older Irish castles, like the “murder hold” are visible in a more modern Jacobean mansion.

It does not look  very impressive from the road but believe me – when you get closer – it suddenly arches the back and takes your breath away! It is B I G !

So this is a very simple, pleasant, short cycle from Youghal, or from Castlemartyr, or Ladysbridge –  it is short and pleasant with NO  CLIMBS whatsoever!

I did make one mistake – I assumed there would be a roadway to the castle, I kind of hoped there would be a road sign pointing to the castle.  No such luck. You have to find it yourself!

All around East Cork there are little hidden castles, and they survive pleasantly among “the untrodden ways”.  Castle Richard, Inchiquin Castle, Ightermurragh Castle are all a “stone’s throw” from each other. But they are not easy to find.

Some are in the process of restoration, some not.  Take the time to discover.

Directions to this castle are simple –  I base it on a starting point in Youghal but you can start in Killeagh, Castlemartyr or anywhere you like – if not coming from  Youghal.  Find your way to Ladysbridge. There are five roads out of Ladysbridge – you will take the road towards Ballymacoda.

From Youghal, go on the Cork road until you reach the turning for Ballymacoda where you turn left off the main road and carry on until you reach a “T” junction which has Ballymacoda on your left, Ladysbridge on your right.  You travel along this road for a few kilometres. Remember – there will not be a sign for the castle. You will see the chimney stacks of the castle on your right –  as in the first photograph. Carry on until you are directly in line with the castle – you will notice a small bohareen ( if you are not Irish – a bohareen is a small road, pronounce the word  in three parts –  “bo” as in “bo peep”, har as in “Harry”, een as in “Seen”.  You can cycle some of this bohareen but it is rough, muddy and more suited to tractors. You come to a gate way and inside it everything is overgrown, full of nettles, briars and all the wild flowers you care to mention.

Last week ( 4th of June 2010) I was wearing shorts and sandals – I climbed the gate and waded through the nettles. I left the bike at the gate.  And got stung and stung and stung! The monks of old would have been proud of me! Those nettles reach parts you’d think would be protected by your shorts! But they are not too bad and it is a short path and suddenly the castle looms up in front of you. Nettles, by the way, are traditionally considered to be good to prevent rheumatism. Maybe …. maybe , possibly one pain cancels out the other.

You forget the tingling in your legs, you forget the discomfort as you gaze up at this building.

You walk around the building, you notice the front door and inside the narrow passageway through which uninvited visitors might meet a nasty end as the passageway confines them and blocks their entry to the castle. Actually Blarney Castle has a fine murder hold if you ask about it .

You can see wonderful windows- not the traditional windows of castles with their narrow areas for light – no – these are fine, large, open window areas indicating  more grandeur than concern with defense.

That’s it – you found the castle. Now all you have to do is to retrace your steps through the nettles, hop over the gate and head back up the path. Now turn right and  you will soon be in Ladysbridge – there you can turn left and go to Garryvoe. Or turn right and head to Castlemartyr and take the main road back to Youghal. You could also head towards Castlemartyr but take the first right turn after Ladysbridge, go straight along this road and it will bring you back to Youghal!

Kieran Groeger

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One thought on “In search of Ightermurragh Castle

  1. As children we loved to play in this castle. The farm was better kept with cattle that kept the nettles down but we did have to cross the river and get through bog land first. Many times the wellies got left behind in the bog but the fun made up for the discomfort. At that time there was so many fruit trees around that have since been cleared. Thanks for the beautiful reminder of this wonderful place and time.

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