Drishane Castle, County of Cork

From the Dublin Penny Journal, Volume 1, Number 37, March 9, 1833

Drishane Castle, County Cork

The above Castle was built by Dermot M'Carty, the son of Tiege Lord Muskerry, who died in 1448, so that this edifice must be of considerable antiquity. The high tower which appears in the above view is all that now remains of it; but, considering its dangerous vicinity to Droumshicane, the fortified and formerly extensive Castle of the O'Keefe's, which is on the northern bank of the Blackwater, in the barony of Duhallow, and not more than a mile distant from Drishane, it is not improbable that the latter, at one time, presented a more imposing appearance than it now does. Drishane Castle is in the Barony of Muskerry and is seated on a limestone rock, on the southern bank of the river Finow, and a short distance from the spot where that river runs into the Black-water. The limestone formation manifests itself here within a circular space of not more than a quarter of a mile in diameter, and is not again seen for seven or eight miles on either side of it.

The house in our view is the residence of Mr Wallis, whose estate it now is and whose ancestor, William Wallis Esq, according to Dr Smith, much improved the agriculture of that part of the country. The top of the Castle commands a beautiful view of the chain of mountains, which, commencing with Claragh (the one appearing behind the Castle) runs, in an uninterrupted line, to Killarney, a distance of 20 miles, including the Paps, and terminating with Mangerton and Turk, on the bank of the Lakes. Beyond these can be distinctly discerned Toomies and Macgillicuddys Ricks, whose singular appearance at this distance shows how applicable the name is, by which they are designated, as they bear a strong resemblance to a group of gigantic corn stacks. Between the Castle and Claragh stands the small village of Millstreet,[1] distant from Cork about 35 miles, and remarkable only as the spot where the celebrated O'Leary, "on hospitable thoughts intent," arrested, or endeavoured to arrest the progress of every passing traveller. This gentleman who possessed a competent fortune, and was a justice of the peace for the county, resided in a small, low house, in the vicinity of the village. His residence was more recommended by the contents of its larder and cel-lar, and the kind and courtly manners of its owner than by its external appearance. No door required the protection of a lock, as he said it was useless to secure the contents of his cellar in that way when any person might partake of them who sought it, and that anyone would intrude from without was improbable, as well from the respect in which he was held, as from the reception which it was likely an impertinent intruder would experience.

O'Leary, as well by virtue of his magisterial authority as his local and personal influence, maintained the peace at the neighbouring fairs and markets. No constabulary or military assistance was in those days necessary to enforce his behests; his commands were, in most cases, sufficient; but if any proved refractory, obedience was promptly obtained by the vigorous application of the long and weighty pole which he ever carried. His figure was lofty, athletic, and commanding; in his latter days, extremely venerable and patriarchal. He generally stationed himself in Mill-street in the morning of each succeeding day, his long pole supporting his steps, and ready, if necessary, to maintain his authority. There he introduced himself to every passing traveller of respectability, and invited him to enter his ever open door, and partake of his unbounded hospitality. O'Leary, as he was called, being the then head of that ancient house, is dead about forty years, the last male representative of a long line of chieftains, and one of the last (perhaps the very last) who kept up that unlimited hospitality which was once the characteristic of his countrymen. We should perhaps add, that some of the collateral branches of the clan still exist in the district, which derives its name from the family.



[1] The following anecdote related by Derrick, who wrote in the year 1760, illustrates the anxiety of the peasantry of that part of the country to establish a claim to hereditary rank or aristocratic connexion. "The inn at Millstreet, however indifferent, is a paradise compared to the spot where we slept the preceding night. The rain continuing to pour heavily, and without ceasing, we stopped at a wretched hovel, on the confines of a bleak, extensive rugged mountain, where they collect the dues of a turnpike. They showed us into a miserable cabin, in which there was something that wore the appearance of a bed. Mine host of the cottage, whose name was Hely, had more importance than a grandee of Spain. He told us that there was not a better man in Cork or Kerry than himself, that he was well acquainted with the Earl of Shelburn and Sir John Coulthurst, to both of whom he was nearly allied, and therefore he never let either of those families pay turnpike, as he wished to keep up family connexions."