Country houses for sale

A medieval castle once besieged by Oliver Cromwell is now up for sale

Blackwater Castle in County Cork is one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Ireland, with a history that spans 10,000 years.

There are probably few places in the world that can claim visits from Norman Lords, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Walter Raleigh, President Michael D Higgins and Michael Jackson — but that’s exactly what Blackwater Castle in County Cork, Ireland, does.

Found in the village of Castletownroche, the castle is now on the market via Christie’s International for €2 million (approximately £1.75 million at the time of writing).

The south of Ireland is an area dotted with a number of grand historic castles, but Blackwater Castle is unique in that it has been cared for over centuries and is today presented in a wonderful state and is regularly used as a wedding and banqueting venue.

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The castle looks over the surrounding secluded, wooden valley, where the River Awbeg runs through. Reached via a tree lined avenue that undulates through the landscape, you are first greeted by the Norman tower house at Blackwater Castle.

With a build timeline spanning from circa 1190 to 1825, the castle is a site of true architectural importance and makes it one of the oldest habitable houses in Ireland.

Evidence suggests that the site on which the castle stands was first populated during the Mesolithic period through to the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age, when it was then known as the fortress of Dún Crúadha.

Unsurprisingly, there are a number of prominent architectural and historical features, including a 12th century round tower, a 15th century tower house, watch towers, an ancient promontory fort dating from the late Bronze age (on which the castle is built), the Holy Well of St. Patrick (making the castle a site of spiritual importance) and Sheela na Gig.

Sheela na Gig are ‘figurative stone sculptures of women in the birthing position that were venerated as power emblems in ancient cultures around the world’, the agents note. ‘The sculptures are sacred symbols and architectural grotesques which represent fertility in women and in the natural world.’ They can be found on the lower ground floor of the tower house at Blackwater Castle, and could possibly date from the early Christian period and possibly as early as the 9th century.

Future potential owners will join a long line up of past tenants, including Gaelic Chieftains and Norman Lords. The castle was once also home to the Viscount of Fermoy and the Lords of the Barony of Fermoy. Sir Walter Raleigh captured the castle in 1580 from Lord Roche and in 1649,  Oliver Cromwell laid siege to the castle. Since 1991, it has belonged to the Nordstrom family trust.

The castle sits within a wooded 60 acre estate and features nine, uniquely designed suites that can sleep up to 23 people in total. One kilometre of the River Awbeg runs through the castle’s grounds, which has private double bank fishing rights and is known especially for Brown Trout. Elsewhere on the estate is a charming stone fronted courtyard and a beautifully maintained walled garden.

The castle is located equidistance between the thriving market towns of Mallow and Fermoy in Cork, both of which are well equipped with supermarkets, golf courses, schools, bars and restaurants. Cork International Airport is just 54 kilometres from the property and the village of Castletownroche (with a selection of shops, a post office and hairdressers) is within walking distance.

Blackwater Castle is currently on the market via Christie’s International for €2 million — see more pictures or enquire with the agent for further details. 


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