Spring Blooms at Blackwater Castle

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Today, April 11 2014,  was such a glorious day that our Walled Garden curator took to the trails with Jaxon the Dachshund and captured these wonderful views of Spring in full flow. Nature has truly exploded into life around here – enjoy!

Prunus Hokusai at BLackwater Castle
Prunus Hokusai, one of the first to flower each Spring in the Walled Garden.


Hokusai Blackwater Castle
Closeup of ‘Hokusai’ in the Walled Garden


Prunus Shirotae at Blackwater Castle
Prunus Shirotae, ‘Mount Fuji’ – shaped like a snowcovered mountain top.



Mount Fuji
A close up of Mount Fuji.


Tulipa viridiflora, 'Spring Green' at Blackwater Castle
Tulipa viridiflora, ‘Spring Green’ , a firm favourite at Blackwater Castle.


Tulipa 'Juan' at Blackwater Castle
Tulipa ‘Juan’. Just one of the many special tulips planted in pots and borders and now popping up in surprising places.


Magnolia x soulangeana.
Magnolia x soulangeana in the Walled Garden.
Narcissus poeticus at Blackwater Castle.
Along the Avenue we have Narcissus Poeticus with a heavenly scent.

Blackwater Castle

What a wonderful day – Jaxon enjoyed it too!

Jaxon the Dachshund

Fermoy Conference – From Gaelic Kingdom to Anglo-Norman Lordship

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Fermoy Conference – From Gaelic Kingdom to Anglo-Norman Lordship

2 May – 4 May 2014 – Fermoy Community Centre

A very interesting conference is taking place in Fermoy over the May Bank Holiday Weekend 2014 at Fermoy Community Centre and opens on Friday evening May 2nd at 7pm.   The main focus of the conference will be the medieval document Críchad an Chaoilli (the Topography of Fermoy). This document survives in the form of manuscripts preserved in the Egerton manuscripts in the British Library, and in the Book of Lismore.

The Book of Lismore, or Leabhar MacCarthaigh Riabhach, is a collection of medieval documents compiled in the fifteenth century for Finghin McCarthy Riabhach of Kilbrittain Castle in south Cork. During the wars of the mid-seventeenth century the castle was captured by one of the sons of Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, who brought the book to his father at Lismore castle, where it was rediscovered in a built-up alcove in 1814, hence its name. It is today owned by the Duke of Devonshire, who owns Lismore Castle, and is preserved in his library at Chatsworth. Though compiled in the fifteenth century, most of the material contained in the Book of Lismore is much older, and Críchad an Chaoilli itself is based on material dating back to the mid-twelfth century or earlier.

Book of Lismore

Taken from the book of Lismore, Críchad starts half way down the right column. Image courtesy of The Chatsworth Settlement Trustees.

Críchad an Chaoilli contains a wealth of information relating to much of northeast Cork, an area known in pre-Norman times as Caoille or Fir Maige, later Fermoy. The territory extended over the north-eastern part of County Cork, north of the Nagle Mountains and approximately from Mallow in the west, to the Cork-Waterford border in the east.

The striking fact about the Críchad is that it contains no reference to any Anglo-Norman families of the area. There are no Roches, Condons or Lombards here. Instead we have Ó Keeffe, Ó Hennessy, Ó Regan and other names, many now lost, of the native Irish families who inhabited the area prior to the Anglo-Norman invasion of the late twelfth century. Críchad lists the political divisions of the area (bailte and tuatha), the ruling families of each area, and the principal church of each tuath, allowing historians a unique view into the social and political world of pre-Norman Ireland.

This conference will present the results of recent historical studies of the Críchad, as well as looking at the broader historical and archaeological context of the Fermoy region in the Medieval period, spanning the period before and after the Anglo-Norman invasion. In addition to the Críchad speakers will cover topics such as the pre-Norman churches of the area, medieval saints of the area, the impact of the Cistercian monks in Ireland, Anglo-Norman families of the region, and their castles, and two speakers will look at the topics of agriculture and food in Ireland during the medieval period.

This is expected to be the first of three conferences focused on the Fermoy region. Subsequent conferences will explore the history of the region in the later Middle Ages and the context of the foundation of the town of Fermoy in the late eighteenth century.

A full programme of events along with registration details  can be found here or contact Eamon Cotter, Archaeologist and conference organiser at eocotter@gmail.com or 086-817366


Castle Photo Shoots

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The stunning grounds of the Castle and the ancient heritage associated with it make Blackwater Castle an ideal location for photo shoots and artistic collaborations of all descriptions. Our predecessors here, the Lords Roche, were renowned for their support of the arts and indeed the medieval manuscript, The Book of Fermoy, was written in the Castle under the patronage of the various Lords when the Castle was known as “the fortress of the authors and ollavs and exiles and Companies of Scholars of Ireland and from which none ever departed without being grateful”.*

Here are images from some of the talented artists to be inspired by this special location:-

Radical Tiara at Blackwater Castle

This image was taken in the bar of Blackwater Castle by Radical Tiara Photography when the Wurlitzer was put to a unconventional use.

Ben Sollis took this one of a Beautiful Dreamer in the Tea Room of the Castle.

Beautiful Dreamer in the Tea Room

And here is another from Ben Sollis – this one is called “The Offering”. It was taken in the Tower of the Castle where the light, 15th century stonework, and of course the moss and mould add to the sinister sacrificial tone of the image.

The Offering - taken in the Norman Tower of BLackwater Castle

Sunrise breaks over the Castle in this gorgeous image by Fely Cayaban. This was taken at the top of the 12th Century Tower on the Eastern side of the Castle below which sits the ruins of a Medieval Chapel with windows facing east towards the rising sun.

Sunrise over the battlements at Blackwater Castle


And finally a beautiful Autumnal shot by Paul Cooley taken around the 12th Century Tower.

Lady in red dress by the 12th century tower at Blackwater Castle

*Description of Roche Castle from 1561 taken from the Book of Fermoy as cited in Historical and Topographical Notes, County Cork, collected by Colonel James Grove White, published 1906 – 1915 p 151.     

Wedding Blogs

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Check out wedding blog entries from some of our fabulous couples!

Monica and Rob – August 2013

Monica and Rob were married here in August 2013 and Egle from White Cat Studio did a super job capturing their special day. Click here to see the full blog post and here to see why Monica was nominated “Bride of the Week” by RSVP magazine.

Irish Castle Weddings


Emese and Mark – September 2013

Irish Castle Wedding

“want that wedding” blog described the marriage of Emese and Mark, who married here in September 2013, as an event in a “blow your mind castle in Ireland”and the superlatives didn’t stop at “super gorge” either! Check out the full blog here and the images of their talented friend, wedding photographer Ewa Slusarek, of Eva Photography.

History Tours at Blackwater Castle

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Tours of Blackwater Castle, Castletownroche, Cork.

 history tours school tours

Have you thought about bringing history to life for your Junior Certificate students by taking them on a tour of one of Ireland’s most significant heritage sites? Blackwater Castle in Castletownroche located between Fermoy and Mallow on the N72 in North Cork may well be just the site to showcase all eras of Irish History and deliver a tangible historical experience to your students.

The site, which until recently was a private home and entirely closed to the public, is now available for private hire but the owners also welcome school tours to the site where students can explore elements from every era of Irish history.  Tours, led by the owners Sheila & Patrick, are certain to fire up the imaginations of your students by introducing them to the visible traces of history and heritage on this site, the ancient promontory fort of Dun Cruadha and former seat of Lord Roche, Baron of Fermoy, which was first settled in Mesolithic times and which down through the ages has been visited by historical figures such as Sir Walter Raleigh, Lord Deputy of Ireland Sir Henry Sidney, Oliver Cromwell and his General Lord Broghill, and more recently the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.   The site is rich in history and heritage and contains the following:

Mesolithic Age:

An extensive flint scatter was discovered in a field adjoining the Castle while the caves on site are indicative of early human settlement making this area one of the earliest known settlements in Ireland.

Neolithic Age: 

We can surmise from the available evidence that Ireland’s first farmers settled here and used the extensive river network of the Blackwater Valley for trade.   Prehistoric burial practices can be explored with a visit to Ireland’s oldest wedge tomb at Labbacallee, 6 miles from the Castle, while the village of Castletownroche is also home to a fulacht fiadh.

Bronze Age:

The outer defence perimeter of the ancient fortress of Dun Cruadha dates back to the Bronze Age – students can walk along this embankment which was fortified in the late medieval period with a stone wall which is still in situe.  The fortress is a rare example of an inland promontory fort with the outer defence walls intact. Students can follow the perimeter of these walls and can also use Google Earth and other satellite imagery to see the development of the site over time and appreciate why it was chosen as a defence site.  A ring barrow or burial mound, likely dating from the Bronze Age, was also found in the townland of Castletownroche.

Iron Age:

Countless ring forts have been found in the immediate area and students can visit the site of one such ring fort which is located in the green area of the one of the housing estates in the village.  The delineation of the fort is marked by a circular formation of trees and this can be viewed from the bus on the way to or from the Castle. The Cliadh Dubh also passes east of the site.

Early Christian Ireland:

The ancient Holy Well of Saint Patrick is located in the river valley below the Castle and a Sheela na Gig, which has been assessed as dating from as far back as the 8th century, is housed in the base of the Norman Keep.

Early Medieval Ireland:

Era of the Irish Chieftain and Tuath division of Ireland.  Myth of Moth Ruith (3rd century blind magician) who has connections to the area and whose Duggan descendants gave way to the Eoghanachta dynasty with the sub chieftain O’Leary being in situe at the time of the Anglo/Cambro-Norman Invasion.

Norman Ireland:

The grandsons of Maurice FitzGerald established a seat of power at Dun Cruadha following the Anglo/Cambro- Norman Invasion and the Castle becomes Roche Castle.  The tower constructed at the edge of the promontory in the late 12th century is still standing today.  Explore the power of the Normans and their way of life, social habits and connections to the King of England through the Roche’s increasing political power – they become the Barons of Fermoy and are immensely powerful.

Medieval Literature:

Roche patronage leads to The Book of Fermoy, written at the Castle, and now housed in the Royal Irish Academy which can open up a discussion about medieval literature, hereditary physicians, and forms of poetry extolling the virtues of patrons.

Medieval Architecture:

Students can also consider the architecture of Norman Ireland by comparing and contrasting the 12th Century and 15th Century towers and can also examine all the Medieval defence features of the Norman Tower such as trip steps, batter walls, parapets etc.  Students can explore the interior of the Norman Tower and can view the surrounding country side from the roof having examined the living quarters of the Lords Roche and can also observe medieval toilet facilities such as the garde-robe and compare these with the older forms of facilities can be examined with our own “Blarney Stone” toilet on the earlier tower .  The Norman tower has not been restored so in its raw state students can appreciate how these structures were erected and can imagine how the Lords Roche might have lived.

Gaelic resurgence – Conquest and Rebellion:

The history of the Roches was fully chronicled during their reign so we can trace Irish history through their history;  their increasing Gaelicisation, the impact of the Tudor conquest of Ireland, their sons’ involvement in the Desmond Rebellion and their subsequent pardon, continuing loyalty to the crown, Oliver Cromwell’s Conquest and the impact of the Plantations culminating in the loss of the entire estate in 1652 following the hanging of Lady Roche on a trumped up charge of murder .

Medieval Architecture:

Students can consider the defence requirements of a fortified Castle in the Medieval Age with the inner bailey, outer bailey, sentry walk, look out posts, defence towers, defence walls, musket loops, secure fresh water supply and so on, all of which are still intact. Students can see all these features and can develop an appreciation as to their significance and why they would have been built.

Christian Ireland:

Students can explore the traditions of early Christian Ireland and how pagan practices were incorporated into mainstream Catholicism with our Sheela na Gig and St. Patrick’s Holy Well. Bridgetown Abbey, a 13th Century Augustinian Priory endowed by the founders of the Castle is located less than 2 miles from the Castle and this heritage site, which although in ruins, is still in very good condition and will allow students to appreciate the monastic way of life.

Protestant Ascendancy and Union with Great Britain:

The Castle and estate were granted to an English soldier of fortune Colonel John Wydenham in 1666 and his family dynasty held the Castle until the 1960’s.  This prosperous family did almost nothing to distinguish themselves for good or ill historically but their wealth allowed them to preserve the site and Medieval structures with significant additions.  Students can contemplate an evolving structure that developed through the ages from the Mesolithic period to the modern age and fortunately for us all is still largely intact and a testament to our past.

Farming and Industrial Ireland – Patterns of settlement: 

Students can also consider the erection of 18th and 19th century industries such as the flour mill in the village (restored) which was the subject of a raid during famine times and the Woollen Mills on the Castle grounds (in ruins). Castletownroche is also a Village of Tradition and students can consider how the village developed and thrived in the post famine era and its current status as a relatively busy small Irish village.   The Courtyard of the Castle was developed in the 17th century and would have contained a Dairy, Stables, Coach House, Sheep house and various other animal pens all of which have now been converted into reception rooms and accommodation for our guests showing how an ancient structure can evolve and thrive in the modern age. The Castle also has a 17th century Walled Garden which would have supplied the Castle with fruit and vegetables and which continues to serve that purpose today and students will be more than welcome to have some free time exploring the garden and grounds and sampling the fruit of our entirely organic garden.

Book your tour with Blackwater Castle  for a unique experience.

In short Blackwater Castle can offer your students a slice of history by revealing all the major events of our past through the prism of the site. The wealth of heritage preserved here means that students will have a vibrant and tangible experience and can see and touch structures erected thousands of years ago. The day can be as long or as short as you wish – our tours can be adapted to your requirements.  Students can bring their own lunches and dine in our 17th century Coach House or we can provide refreshments or a lunch for them.  A day trip can be extended with leisure time (whether permitting) in the Walled Garden and walks around the 50 acre estate which we have designated as a protected nature reserve.


You can prolong the day by visiting Bridgetown Priory and Labbacallee both of which are OPW sites so there are no charges. The rate for a tour led by the owners over the course of up to 5 hours including a lunch break in our Coach House would be E10 per student.


Kindly see our website for details of the history of the Castle and the heritage on site.  Contact Sheila today with any queries you may have and to enquire about availability. We will be more than happy to customise a school tour with an emphasis on a particular period if required.  Above all we aim to entertain and enlighten your students with a sense of wonder about the past and bring our passion and enthusiasm for this outstanding site of international importance to your students.









Lewis’ Cork

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Extracts from Lewis’ Cork, A Topographical Dictionary of the Parishes, Towns and villages of Cork City and County, 1837. The Collins Press 1998.

Samuel Lewis’ dictoinary was published in 1837 and contained statistics from the first complete census of Ireland from 1831 and represents a comprehensive description of Ireland in the period preceding the Famine detailing Ireland’s commercial and farming activity, buildings, and people.  Castletownroche and Castle Widenham (as it was then known) were described in the book as follows:-

“The town is pleasantly situated on the declivity of a steep hill rising from the west bank of the river Awbeg, over which is a neat bridge of five arches, and on the high road from Fermoy to Doneraile: and with the Castle and the church has a highly picturesque appearance, on the approach from the east side of the river”. (p 100)

castletownroche church
St. Mary’s Church of Ireland built circa 1825 and designed by the Pain brothers as seen from the northern outer defence walls of the Castle fortress.

Description of Castle Widenham, now Blackwater Castle, circa 1837.

“The surrounding country is beautifully picturesque; and the river Awbeg, the “gentle Mulla” of Spenser, is celebrated for the richness and variety of its scenery. Castle Widenham the noble mansion of H. Mitchel Smith, Esq., is situated on the summit of a rocky eminence overhanging the river, the banks of which here are richly wooded, and commands extensive and varied prospects over the surrounding country, itself forming a conspicuous and beautiful object from every point of view. The tower or keep of the ancient fortress has been incorporated in the present structure, which is in a style of corresponding character and rises, majestically above the woods in which it is embosomed, forming a strikingly romantic feature in the landscape.  The castle, with its outworks, occupied a considerable extent of the ground surrounded by a strong rampart with parapet and turrets, of which a large proportion is still remaining: there is a descent to the river of 100 steps  cut in the solid rock, for supplying the Castle with water.”  (p 101)

Henry Brocas water colour
A Henry Brocas water colour of the Castle painted in the latter half of the 18th century.

Reference to the Holy Well of St. Patrick

“Below the castle and near the margin of the river, is a holy well, dedicated to St. Patrick, on whose anniversary a patron is held here: the water is remarkably pure, and is much esteemed by the peasantry for its supposed virtues.” (p102)

 St. Patrick's Holy Well
St. Patrick’s Holy Well located in the river valley to the South West of the Castle.

The traditional pilgrimage to this Holy Well has faded in more recent times but there is anecdotal evidence locally of occasional devotion at this Holy Well.  The Sheela na Gig, now housed in the Keep, was once located beside the Holy Well and the powers of this figure, believed to date from the 8th or 9th centuries, are well renowned and continue to be revered in the locality.

Sheela na Gig
Sheela na Gig at Blackwater Castle now housed in the Castle tower.






Ireland Castle Vacation

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Ireland Castle vacation or a short stay at one of Ireland’s oldest Castles might just be the most memorable part of your trip to Ireland.  The ancient fort of Dun Cruadha, the traces of which are still visible today even though they date back some 3,000 years, can be explored in one of Ireland’s oldest settlements which was first occupied by our ancestors almost 10,000 years ago. The Castle building itself dates from the 12th century and the habitable sections date back to the early 15th century – there is no older Castle available to rent in Ireland – so why not spend some time here with us in our Medieval Castle in the heart of the Blackwater Valley in County Cork on your
Ireland Castle Vacation.
We can provide all your catering and housekeeping needs for you or you can simply opt to look after yourselves.  All options are possible here at Blackwater Castle – we pride ourselves on delivering exactly what our guests would like in terms of services – there is no “one size fits all” here!  A short stroll down the tree lined avenue of the Castle leads you to the gates of the Castle and the picturesque village of Castletownroche is on your right. Castletownroche is a small but thriving rural Irish Village of Tradition and a warm and welcoming place to be introduced to an Irish village way of life.  Our guests love the proximity of the village and the warmth of the welcome accorded to them by the locals and fully enjoy the village experience as part of their Ireland Castle vacation.  Castletownroche  is well served with a butcher, supermarket, 4 pubs, a pharmacy, hairdressers/beautician and petrol station really is quite charming. One of the pubs, The Spinning Wheel, was established in 1791 and has been in continuous use since then as evidenced by the memorabilia on the walls of this quirky listed heritage site.  So if you are looking for a short overnight stay or a more extended Medieval Castle experience we will be happy to look after you and your travelling companions on your<br />
<h3>Ireland Castle vacation.

Unlike other heritage properties our terms are very flexible and we are happy to take short rentals of 2 days or more during the holiday season – you are not obliged to take the Castle for an entire week so if you have 2 -4 days and you would like to enjoy the beauty of our Castle contact us today for availability. We can also take groups on a Guesthouse basis where rather than a private or exclusive hire of the entire Castle we can look after smaller groups of visitors if this option better suits your needs.

The Castle was renovated in the 1980’s so enjoys all the modern comforts we come to expect when travelling but without compromising on the unique nature of this Medieval stronghold of the old Lords of Fermoy, the Roches, Viscounts of Fermoy.

Irish Castle Vacation

We have 9 spacious suites which sleep 23 and a further 47 bed spaces in our Castle Courtyard (which can be hired separately if required) so we can accommodate up to 70 of your extended family here.  The Castle has extensive dining facilities with a fully equipped professional kitchen along with 6 reception rooms including a private bar so you can enjoy the life of a Lord or Lady of the Castle in great style and comfort on your Castle Vacation in Ireland.



Ireland Castle Vacation
The Douglas Hyde suite looking out over the river valley.


We can provide all your catering and housekeeping needs for you or you can simply opt to look after yourselves.  All options are possible here at Blackwater Castle – we pride ourselves on delivering exactly what our guests would like in terms of services – there is no “one size fits all” here!

A short stroll down the tree lined avenue of the Castle leads you to the gates of the Castle and the picturesque village of Castletownroche is on your right. Castletownroche is a small but thriving rural Irish Village of Tradition and a warm and welcoming place to be introduced to an Irish village way of life.  Our guests love the proximity of the village and the warmth of the welcome accorded to them by the locals and fully enjoy the village experience as part of their Ireland Castle vacation. Castletownroche  is well served with a butcher, supermarket, 4 pubs, a pharmacy, hairdressers/beautician and petrol station and really is quite charming. One of the pubs, The Spinning Wheel, was established in 1791 and has been in continuous use since then as evidenced by the memorabilia on the walls of this quirky listed heritage site.

We can provide all your catering and housekeeping needs for you or you can simply opt to look after yourselves.  All options are possible here at Blackwater Castle – we pride ourselves on delivering exactly what our guests would like in terms of services – there is no “one size fits all” here!  A short stroll down the tree lined avenue of the Castle leads you to the gates of the Castle and the picturesque village of Castletownroche is on your right. Castletownroche is a small but thriving rural Irish Village of Tradition and a warm and welcoming place to be introduced to an Irish village way of life.  Our guests love the proximity of the village and the warmth of the welcome accorded to them by the locals and fully enjoy the village experience as part of their Ireland Castle vacation.  Castletownroche  is well served with a butcher, supermarket, 4 pubs, a pharmacy, hairdressers/beautician and petrol station really is quite charming. One of the pubs, The Spinning Wheel, was established in 1791 and has been in continuous use since then as evidenced by the memorabilia on the walls of this quirky listed heritage site.  So if you are looking for a short overnight stay or a more extended Medieval Castle experience we will be happy to look after you and your travelling companions on your Ireland Castle vacation.

So with a wealth of heritage sites within easy reach, an outdoor activity centre on the Castle grounds, and countless other activities to choose from, if you are looking for a short overnight stay or a more extended Medieval Castle experience your hosts Patrick and Sheila will be more than happy to look after you and your travelling companions on your

Ireland Castle vacation



Haunted Castle

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Haunted Castle
Many of our guests ask if Blackwater Castle is a haunted Castle and with a history extending back some 9,000 years it is fair to surmise that if any place is haunted Blackwater Castle may well be a good bet! The Castle was a fort in the pre-Christian era and a stronghold known as “Dun Cruadha” in early Christian times.   Native Gaelic Chiefs were in command of the fortress until the turbulent overthrow of that way of life with the arrival of the Anglo-Norman invaders in the late 12th Century and the establishment of Lord Roche and his dynasty.  So with such upheaval and, no doubt, countless bloody murders and battle victims are there remnants of souls still lingering around the nooks and crannies of the Castle searching for peace or safe passage into the next world?

Haunted Castle

This is the oldest part of the Castle being the 12th Century tower and Chapel erected by the Anglo-Norman founders of the Roche Dynasty Alexander and Raymond Fitz-Hugh (grandsons of Maurice Fitzgerald).

There are many sightings of the supernatural and myths associated with the Castle but there are two stories in particular that re-surface time and time again.  Lady Ellen Roche led the defence of the Castle (then Roche Castle) back in 1650 during the Cromwellian Wars when the Castle came under attack by Cromwell’s forces led by the infamous Lord Broghill.  Lord Roche was away at the time so it fell to Lady Roche to lead the defence when the Castle came under heavy bombardment via cannon fire from “The Camp Field” located across the river from the Castle.  After a siege and a heroic defence of the territory the Castle fell to Lord Broghill.   The six officers commanding the troops under Lady Roche were summarily executed and it is suggested their remains were tossed into the river valley as Lord Broghill was known to be particularly ruthless and unnecessarily cruel with the vanquished. There are those who believe that the spirits of the dead officers continue to roam around the grounds of the Castle.

Lord Broghill, Haunted Castle

Lord Broghill, Oliver Cromwell’s General, who was particularly ruthless in his dealings with the defeated. He led the attack on the Castle in 1650 during the Cromwellian Wars when the Castle was defended by Lady Roche.


Haunted Castle
Most of the (alleged!) paranormal activity around the Castle relates to the ghost of Lady Roche.  She was a brave and forceful woman in taking on the might of Cromwell’s army in defending her fortress and attempting to protect those who sought shelter within the Castle walls during the assault.   Once the Castle was taken by Lord Broghill Lady Roche found herself imprisoned in the 15th Century tower.

Lady Roche

The second floor of the 15th Century tower of Blackwater Castle where Lady Roche was imprisoned during the Cromwellian Wars following the taking of the Castle by Cromwell’s General Lord Broghill.  A door from this room (in the centre of the image) leads into the main house and adjoins the Lady Roche Suite.

Visitors to the tower can see the room in which she was held which adjoins the “Lady Roche Suite” within the 17th Century Castle mansion where many of our braver guests opt to stay perhaps hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive Lady Roche.

Haunted Castle

The Lady Roche Suite which adjoins the 15th Century Tower of the Castle where Lady Roche herself was imprisoned in 1650.

Lady Roche was hanged some 2 years after the siege in 1652 on a trumped up charge of murder at one of the “show trials” established during the period with the express intention of dispossessing the native Irish Chiefs and their Anglo-Norman compatriots who remained faithful to Catholicism and refused to convert.   Lady Roche was convicted

“on the evidence of a strumpet, for shooting a man with a pistol whose name was unknown to the witness – although it was ready to be proved Lady Roche was twenty miles distant from the spot”.

(A Brief Narrative of the Sufferings of the Irish under Cromwell – London 1660).

So Lady Roche was defeated in battle and the estate and title which she and her predecessors had held since their arrival in Ireland some 400 years earlier were swept away.  She was falsely accused, convicted on the evidence of a “strumpet”, and executed.  Surely not a soul at peace! It is said she roams the grounds of the Castle wearing a dark hooded cloak and some of the previous employees of the Castle, along with some guests, claim to have seen her spirit.  In the summer of 2012 visitors to the Castle sharing adjoining rooms both independently reported a cloaked lady entering their rooms and briefly sitting on the ends of their beds before departing.  Was this a prank on the part of other guests? Were our visitors imbibing spirits of a different nature the night before and simply had vivid dreams? Is there any truth in these stories – is Blackwater Castle really a Haunted Castle ?

Others have carried out some paranormal investigations here including Ghost Hunt Irelandwho declared the Castle to be “the second most haunted Castle in Ireland”. Haunted.ie also carried out their own paranormal investigation with a seance and again in their view there is something ghostly/spiritual/spectral/paranormal or SOMETHING going at Blackwater Castle…

So what do we think? Well, we have been here since 1991 and haven’t seen anything paranormal but we like to keep an open mind. If there is anything of a non-earthly nature at the Castle it is certain to be of a friendly disposition as our guests all comment on the “good vibes” in what is essentially a Medieval Castle.  Despite the turbulent events in the Castle’s history, in particular during the Desmond Rebellion when Sir Walter Raleigh captured the Castle and later during the siege of the Castle in 1650, life at the Castle has been relatively peaceful.  The Lords Roche were known to be quite war-like and aggressive but as they were so powerful their position of influence went unchallenged until the late 16th Century.  When their estates and title were confiscated in 1652 Colonel John Widenham took over the estate and his descendants held it without interruption or attack until the 1960′s thus enjoying 300 years of peaceful occupation during which time the Castle was essentially a family home.  We like to think that the peaceful ambience of a family home continues to this day and if there are any spirits they haven’t made themselves known to us yet.

Come and visit us and see for yourself whether or not Blackwater Castle is indeed Haunted!

Halloween Event

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Halloween Events
This motley crew will be back for Fright Night 2013!


FRIGHT NIGHT with Blackwater Outdoor Activities at Blackwater Castle in Castletownroche, County Cork on Monday 28th, Tuesday 29th and Wednesday 30th October 6.30 – 10.30pm.  Admission:  €15/person when booked online for a terror and fun filled Halloween Event.

Experience the fright of your life on this hair-raising high-wire trek in the dark of night.

Travelling in low visibility nervously wind your way around Blackwater Castle Estate. The trek involves a number of zip lines, joined by a network of paths and forest trails, all packed with a feast of frights.   Devilish beasts, specialist lighting, and terrifying sound effects along the way will send shivers down spines and set hearts racing.

Guaranteed to be unlike any other experience you’ll have had and in the perfect haunted setting of the 12th Century Blackwater Castle Estate where the ghost of Lady Ellen Roche is said to roam to this day.  Lady Roche was the heroine of the Castle who defended it when it came under attack from Oliver Cromwell’s forces in 1649.  Her brave defence of the Castle was ultimately unsuccessful and when the Castle fell to Cromwell’s forces she was imprisoned in the tower and subsequently hanged.  Do you dare to meet her ghost???

This event is a safe and exciting Halloween adventure for adults and teenagers however it would not be suitable for children.  All enquiries to Brian at Blackwater Outdoor Activities – 086 783 7015 – for a memorable Halloween Event.

DIY Wedding

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DIY Wedding
A view of Blackwater Castle from The Fisherman’s Path

DIY WEDDINGS and how to have one with the minimum of fuss and expense.  First, my three main points;

1. In order to save expenses in creating your wedding – why not do it yourself?

2. Being in control of the expenses is crucial as is not letting yourself be carried away by all the small (unnecessary!) extras that are after all often overlooked by most guests

3. Don’t do what is expected of you – do what you and your spouse-to-be want in creating your own special day and your friends and family will support you.

Now, let us get started on a DIY Wedding.  First the numbers. Usually, the cost begins to rise with a larger guest list due to higher staff costs.  If you can reduce the numbers to what really are your most intimate friends and close family – the people you really want to share this moment with – your wedding will be all the better for it.  You do not have to waste quality time having to meet and greet people you haven’t seen in ages or at all.  My motto with my own wedding was  – this is not the day I want to meet people for the first time in my life!  So as a compromise the aunts and uncles and extended family were invited for a “Reunion Dinner” prior to the wedding and we had all the time in the world to bond and everyone was happy.

The next thing for your DIY Wedding is to rope in family and friends to help you set up the venue for the wedding. They will be happy to help and will feel they have contributed to the success of the event.

As for the meal you could consider doing a buffet style event involving minimum service staff which keeps costs down. No seating plan is required so it takes all the stress away from having to sort out who can’t be seated next to whom and so on and as the arrangements are less formal people are more relaxed and mingle more. 

In my opinion having a civil or humanist ceremony on the grounds is the best idea ever: you are allowed and encouraged to design your own ceremony and you can involve your guests who can contribute poems, songs, reflections, memories and blessings for the future.  The only limit is your own imagination!

Blackwater Castle is the ideal venue for your DIY wedding.  You rent Blackwater Castle as your home for the days you are in residence and you are encouraged to “do your own thing”.  Blackwater Castle allows you to move the furniture around, redecorate, and do what you like to make the Castle your home for your unique event. And it doesn’t need very much to make the Castle look “magical”. A bag of tea-lights does not cost a fortune and snipping off some ivy or other vgreenery from the plentiful crops on the Castle grounds would make for lovely decorations.

Some more bits to take off the money pressure:

Your guests are usually prepared to pay for their accommodation- don’t feel that you have to pay for everything – most of us are not multi-millionaires and a shared burden is easier to carry! As our wedding couples pay an all inclusive rated to us to hire the estate getting your guests to pitch in for their accommodation means that your Castle hire bill can be massively reduced.

Finally, let your guests pay for what they drink.  If you hold your event in a private home such as Blackwater Castle as a private party you can stock your own bar at a much reduced cost and have an “honesty box” where guests make a contribution of, for example, €3 or €4 per drink thereby covering the cost with a bit more left over to put towards the catering bill. Other couples opt to pre-sell tickets for the ball – this all sounds a bit complicated but is quite workable and that is what the best man is for!

So there are significant savings to be made in doing your own DIY wedding and at Blackwater Castle we will be delighted to assist you in designing your own perfect event.  There are lots of savings to be made – a fund that can be used as a first instalment on a family home or for a stockpile of nappies! So, at Blackwater Castle we are of the view that the way to go is with a DIY Wedding.

DIY Weddings