CASTLEHAVEN, a parish

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

CASTLEHAVEN, a parish, in the East Division of the barony of WEST CARBERY, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 4 ½ miles (W.) from Skibbereen; containing 5619 inhabitants. This parish, anciently called Glanbarrahane, derived that name from a deep rocky glen dedicated to St. Barrahane, and its modern appellation from the castle that protected the haven. In the war of 1601, Castlehaven was a place of great importance, for it was here that six Spanish ships landed about 2000 men, with stores, ordnance, and ammunition, in consequence of which the disaffected septs cast off the mask of submission, all the country from Kinsale westward declared for the invaders, and O'Driscoll, lord of a fort at Castlehaven, which commanded the harbour, delivered it to his foreign friends.

The forts at Baltimore, Innisherkin, and Dunboy, were also placed in the hands of Don Juan d'Aquila, the Spanish commander, who immediately garrisoned them, lavished gold upon their former proprietors, to whom he gave Spanish commissions, and took their followers into his pay. Admiral Leveson, who was sent here with a fleet, after sinking and destroying some of the Spanish vessels in the haven, was, by contrary winds, exposed to a battery erected by the enemy on shore, which was principally directed against his ship, and did considerable execution, so that he was obliged to return to Kinsale in a very shattered condition. The army of Tyrone and O'Donnel having been completely routed by the Lord-Deputy Mountjoy, the Spanish general agreed to evacuate Castlehaven, and in Feb., 1602, it was surrendered to Capt. Harvey for Queen Elizabeth, under the capitulation of Kinsale, after some unavailing opposition on the part of O'Driscoll, its proprietor. In 1645, the castle, well supplied with ordnance, was held for the parliament by William Salmon.

This parish is situated on the harbour of the same name, on the southern coast, and contains 10,421 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £6336 per annum. About two-thirds of the land are cultivated; the remainder is waste, consisting of high barren rocky ridges, or bog. Cultivation is principally performed by the spade, or the heavy old wooden plough. The harbour is more than half a mile in width, and is very secure and well sheltered: it is adapted for vessels drawing 10 feet of water, which can lie about a quarter of a mile above Reen Head, with the rocks called the Stags in sight. The coast here is bold and picturesque, with several small islands lying off it, the principal of which are Horse Island and one called Blackrock. The Stags are three very conspicuous rocks lying four miles (S. W. ½ W.) from the entrance of the harbour; and Toe head is a broad promontory, between which and Gocaun point is a small but well sheltered bay. The principal seats are Castle Townsend, the residence of Colonel Townsend; Point House, of R. B. Townsend, Esq.; Drishane, of T. Somerville, Esq.; Smithville, of T. Townsend, Esq.; and Shepperton, of M. Townsend, Esq. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ross, and in the alternate patronage of the Crown and the Bishop: the tithes amount to £600.

The church is a large and very handsome edifice, with a lofty square tower supported by buttresses and crowned with pinnacles: it stands in the demesne of Castle Townsend, and was built in 1827, of hewn fawn-coloured freestone obtained from the quarries on Horse Island, at an expense of £1500, of which £1250 was granted by the late Board of First Fruits, and £250 was contributed by Colonel Townsend. There is an elegant glebe-house, standing on a glebe of 15 acres. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising the parishes of Castlehaven and Myross. The chapel is a large and commodious edifice, erected by subscription in 1834, on the lands of Raheens, about a mile from Castle Townsend.

The male and female parochial schools are in Castle Townsend, and are aided by the rector and Colonel Towns-end. An infants' school was established there in 1835, and is supported by subscription. There are also four hedge schools and a Sunday school in the parish. The ancient castle, the walls of which are still visible near the mouth of the harbour, was built by the O'Driscolls, and subsequently belonged to the family of Touchet, of which George Touchet, Lord Audley, who had been governor of Utrecht, and was wounded at Kinsale in 1602, was created Earl of Castlehaven, in 1616: this title was enjoyed through five generations, but became extinct in 1777. Not far distant from the castle are the remains of the old church of Glanbarrahane; and near it is a well, dedicated to St. Barrahane, still frequented.

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