Blackrock Castle: Situated on the banks of the River Lee at Castle Road, Blackrock, Cork. This castle is one of Cork’s best known and historic landmarks. Historically its location where the River Lee flows into Lough Mahon provided a perfect defensive position for the medieval city. In 1600 a round tower was constructed by the Elizabethan government at the request of the citizens of Cork to protect them from marauding pirates and other invaders.
In 1608 Blackrock Castle was handed over to the City of Cork following a charter issued by James 1st. In 1722 the old tower was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt with an octagonal room topped with a cupola. The castle at this time was used as a banquet hall and for the ceremony of “throwing the dart”. This custom still surviving happens every three years whereby the Lord Mayor and officers of the Corporation threw a dart into the harbour to acknowledge “the rights of jurisdiction granted by charter to the Corporation in all creeks and strands within the harbour as far as high water mark”.
In 1827 the castle was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in 1829 by the architects James and G.R. Pain who were responsible for designing very many fine churches and public buildings in Cork. An additional three storeys and out-buildings were added to the castle at that time. Remaining today is a neo gothic complex of buildings around a courtyard, entered via a castellated gateway. The main structure is a large castellated tower to the north with a cylindrical tower rising above the principal structure. Several low oblong buildings are attached to the main tower. At different times the castle was used as a private residence, a restaurant and offices. In 2001 it was purchased by the Cork City Council. It went under extensive refurbishment by the Murray O’Laoire Architects and reopened as astronomy and visitors centre with is restaurant and bar facilities. The castle’s state of the art observatory is operated by Cork Institute of Technology and is linked to others around the world. It is open to visitors with a nominal entrance charge.
Blackrock Heritage Park: Located in Beesboro Road near Blackrock village. This park is 2 miles south of the city centre. The park is sited in a 19th century courtyard on lovely grounds beside an estuary of Cork Harbour. This site was originally part of the estate of the Pike family, Quakers who were prominent in banking and shipping in Cork in the 1800s. The exhibits trace the history of the Pike family, and the maritime and shipping routes of Cork. Also included are an archaeology room, an environmental centre and a small museum tracing the history of Cork fire-fighters from 1450 to 1945. The stables house models of a saddler and blacksmith.
Opening times: May – September 1 – 5pm. Phone: 00353214358854