Bridgetown Priory

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The co-founder of the Castle Alexander Fitz Hugh is likely the man depicted in this carving found in Bridgetown Priory, the priory established by Alexander between 1202 and 1216 and located less than 2 miles from the Castle.

Alexander Fitz Hugh, Bridgetown Priory

Professor Tadhg O’Keeffe in his study of Bridgetown Priory on p23 suggests that
“This head, carved in oolithic limestone imported in the 13th century from south-western Britain, is conceivably from an early effigial tomb and it may represent Alexander Fitz Hugh, the priory’s founder.”
This is supported by Crofton Croker who in his “Researches in the South of Ireland” published in 1824 suggests that both the tomb in the altar of the priory bearing the Roche coat of arms and the carving are those of the founder.
‘About the middle of the corner moulding, on the altar side, a head in high relief is most unaccountably placed, without anything similar to correspond as a balance, and an inverted armorial shield, charged with one fish (the present Roche arms are three) is deeply marked in outline on the front of this monument, supposed to be that of the founder, Alexander Fitz Hugh Roche, but no vestige of an inscription can be discovered.”
Roche Tomb, Alexander Fitz Hugh
The Roche Tomb at Bridgetown Priory.
Tomb of Alexander Fitz Hugh, Roche Tomb, Bridgetown Priory
The Roche Tomb currently undergoing repairs.
Bridgetown Priory is fully accessible to the public and is located just over a mile from the Castle and is a wonderful example of a priory first constructed in the early 13th century with modifications and additions undertaken in subsequent centuries. A hidden gem.
Dormitory window.
Bridgetown Priory, Castletownroche, Blackwater Castle
Three later 13th century chapter room (meeting room/study) windows with a dormitory window in the upper right of the photo (rebuilt as a twin-light).

The Prior’s Tower.
Bridgetown Priory, Castletownroche, Blackwater Castle, Roche Castle
Looking towards the vaulted cloistered passage.

Bridgetown Priory, Castletownroche, Blackwater Castle, Roche Castle, refectory
The refectory or dining room on the first floor.

Bridgetown Priory, Castletownroche, Roche Castle, BLackwater CAstle
Doorway under refectory leading towards the undercroft or crypt/storage area.

Bridgetown Priory, Blackwater CAstle, CAstletownroche, Roche Castle, ruined nave
The nave (where the congregation would have gathered).

Wedding photographs and slide shows at Blackwater Castle

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Wedding photographs at Blackwater Castle

We have had some great weddings this year already and here are links to some of the slide shows and blog posts of the professional photographers who captured those special moments.

Monica and Rob, had a stunning event here in August 2013 (designed and styled by Monica herself) and you can view some of their images here courtesy of their incredibly talented photographer Egle at White Cat Studio. Monica really ran with the concept that the Castle is a blank canvas upon which she could paint her individual style – everything was so tastefully done and entirely in keeping with an historic building.

Irish Castle Weddings

Bridget and John had a wonderful wedding here in July 2013 and images and videos from the event were beautifully captured by their photographer Rory O’Toole.  As Bridget and John married in the Roman Catholic Church in the village Rory’s series of images and videos captures the photo opportunities to be found around the beautiful village of Castletownroche along with the countless possibilities within the Castle grounds from the Castle itself to the Walled Garden, majestic avenue, and mature woodlands.   Click here to view Bridget and John’s slide show.

A more recent wedding of Dave and Sue was beautifully captured by their photographer Peter Bialkowski of  Fleeting Moments Photography who did a wonderful job in recording a very special event.  Peter was so taken with the Castle and its potential for photograph opportunities that he declared it to be the “nicest venue for a DIY wedding I’ve ever seen. Paradise for a wedding photographer”. You can see Peter’s work here

Peter also captured the magic at the marriage of Heather and Jonathan in September 2013 and you can see images of their unique “cocktail style” event here along with all the fun to be had with a Photo Booth.


A fusion of Hungarian and Irish influences was at work for the wedding of Mark and Emese which took place in glorious sunshine in September 2013.  An intimate and elegant event, you can view their images here as shot by their friend Ewa Slusarek, of Eva Photography.


Irish Castle Wedding


July 2014 saw Edel & Gerry wed in splendid sunshine on the Castle lawn and some of their lovely images can be seen on In Love Photography’s Blog.

Kate rocked that 1940′s look with a fabulous vintage frock when she married Donal in August 2014 and some great images from Sean Clark Photography can be viewed here.

Irish Castle Weddings

Some of you might like to take inspiration from this wedding blog from One Fab Day on a lovely event last July when Edel & Gerry (the “anti Posh & Becks”!) tied the knot. Wim from In Love Photography found some gorgeous corners around the grounds for some lovely shots too.

In-Love-Photography-CAstle wedding

You can read more detail about weddings at the Castle by going back to our Weddings page on our website or contact Sheila or Patrick on 087 971 0854.



Autumn leaves at Blackwater Castle

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The Autumnal colours at the Castle are gorgeous this year due to such a hot summer and a dry sunny Autumn hastening the disappearance of chlorophyll and exposing the range of red, yellow and orange pigments.  The results are spectacular with more delights ahead.  Here are some images of Autumn drawing in taken this weekend.  As you can see we still have beautiful blooms in the Walled Garden too even this late in the season.  Red squirrels are busy already and we are looking forward to seeing more of them scampering along the avenue.

autumn at Blackwater Castle
Leaves are turning by the Walled Garden.
autumn at Blackwater Castle
Some turn faster than others!
autumn at Blackwater Castle
Fantastic Fuschia
autumn at Blackwater Castle
autumn at Blackwater Castle
This one is not for turning – the rare evergreen Magnolia Grandiflora is thriving in the Walled Garden.


autumn at Blackwater Castle
The Old Horse Road and Jaxon.


autumn at Blackwater Castle
The Awbeg running through the glen beneath the Castle.


autumn at Blackwater Castle
These caves along the river bank were occupied back in the Mesolithic era (circa 10,000 years ago). Now this cave is home to our zipline towers.


autumn at Blackwater Castle
Autumnal blooms


autumn at Blackwater Castle
Apples and grapes from the Walled Garden – and yes – grapes can grow in Ireland!


autumn at Blackwater Castle
The greenhouse


autumn at Blackwater Castle
October moon over the tower with the Finnish flag denoting the origins of our current guests.

History of Castletownroche

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Colonel Grove White wrote a fascinating account of the history and heritage of Cork in his collection of Historical and Topographical Notes, County Cork, published 1906 – 1915.  There is a very detailed account of the history of the village of Castletownroche, its landowners, with details of the contemporary commercial and agricultural life and indeed an account of the Castle from the early part of the 20th Century and you can click on this link to read the digitised version.


A drawing by Alfred J. Nicholson of Blackwater Castle, then Widenham Castle, with the old Norman tower (1475) clearly visible at the summit with the remains of the ruined lookout post visible below.  The Old Rustic Bridge by the Mill (collapsed since 1946) is visible to the fore of the drawing with the late Medieval bridge (circa 13th century) in the rear of the drawing.

Commercial life of Castletownroche

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Commercial life of Castletownroche in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century.

A brochure on the commercial life of the village was produced about 10 years ago chronicling the various businesses and social life of the village at the turn of the 20th century.  The depth of commercial life is truly astonishing for such a small village which then included harness makers, bakers, blacksmiths, publicans, farriers with all manner of entertainment on offer from circuses to dance bands to cinema.  The brochure is reproduced here with apologies for the quality of reproduction.





Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies

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Good news this week from the Attorney General’s Office with clarification that wedding ceremonies can now be held outside. While the Castle was an approved venue for civil ceremonies since 2008 new rules came into effect in 2013 which permitted Humanists to perform legally binding ceremonies at such venues in addition to State Registrars. Registrars insisted that such ceremonies be performed inside the approved venues but Humanists were more flexible in their approach and allowed the ceremonies to take place outside venues leading to delightful ceremonies which were particular to each couple and allowed for beautiful backdrops to be used to great effect. This meant that we had beautiful ceremonies on the terrace of the Castle overlooking the River Valley or on the lawn of the Castle. The HSE which regulates such matters ruled recently that the ceremonies must take place inside which threw quite a number of wedding arrangements up in the air. Fortunately sense prevailed with the welcome ruling from the Attorney General that such ceremonies could indeed be performed outside. Sheila was interviewed on the subject this week by John Murray of RTE’s The John Murray Show and you can listen to that interview here. Now all we need is favourable weather for the remainder of this year’s outdoor ceremonies!

outdoor wedding ceremony
A beautiful ceremony conducted on the lawn of the Castle last June.

Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014

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Delighted to get a Certificate of Excellence from Tripadvisor!  We are thrilled to be the top rated speciality venue in Cork (of 76) and the second of 346 in Munster.  Thank you to all our reviewers who have accorded us a coveted 5* status.   Next goal for us is to get to the top slot in Munster!