Ballincollig, County Cork

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter III-7 | Start of chapter

From Kilcrea the road runs through Ballincollig, a neat little town, five miles from Cork. It is a military station, and contains a cavalry barrack and a police depot for the province of Munster. The castle of Ballincollig, near the town, was formerly a stronghold of the Barretts, an Anglo-Irish family, who at one time possessed large estates in this county, and gave their name to the adjoining barony. It is a plain, quadrangular tower, about forty feet in height, in the centre of a walled enclosure, defended by towers. A natural cave, which runs some distance into the rock beneath the keep, is still shown as the place where the former possessors of the castle confined their prisoners. The edifice cannot boast any great extent or architectural beauty, nor is there much to interest the antiquarian in its ruins, although it is said to have been built as far back as the time of Edward III.

Within a mile of the village of Ballincollig the beautiful river Bride unites with the Lee. The rich lowlands adjoining the junction of the rivers is called Inniscarra ('the beloved island'), where the pious St. Senan founded a monastery in the sixth century. It is a sweet secluded spot, admirably adapted for meditation and the alienation of the heart from worldly concerns. Not a vestige of this establishment is now to be discovered.

A succession of several natural caves are to be seen near "The Ovens," a small hamlet in this neighbourhood, that derives its name from those subterranean chambers, some of which are said in shape to resemble ovens. Two of them are accessible to the curious; but there is little to render them worthy a particular description here. Like all caves found in limestone countries, they are merely a succession of irregularly-sized chambers, hung with spars and stalactites, and connected by narrow and intricate passages. Travellers who have visited the caves of Mitchelstown, or that of Dunmore, in the county Kilkenny, will find these at Ovens much inferior to the former in romantic beauty, and in size and extent; although the country people say that they extend underground as far as the Castle of Carrigrohan, a distance of four miles from the place. The great number of those singular caverns found in Ireland is owing, in almost every instance, to the calcareous or limestone strata, of which the island is composed: to the same cause may be attributed much of the picturesque charms of its scenery—its numerous waterfalls, deep glens, subterranean rivers, natural bridges, and precipitous cliffs, which are not to be met with to the same extent, variety, and beauty, in any other country.