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tel. +353 (0)28 33752 / +353 (0)86 226 4797 Jacqueline Weij
St. Barrahane's Church Castletownshend,
(8 km from Skibbereen)
Co. Cork, P81 AH51
On turning the right angle bend at the top of Castletownshend village this small Old World village is seen to nestle in an unusual and curious coastal setting. Neat and interesting houses built on both sides of the street, lead down a steep and precipitous incline to the Townshend Castle and quayside whence the village gets its name.
The village of Castletownshend grew up around the castles built by the Townshend family from 1650 onwards. There was no village in that location before then, and most of the present village was built circa 1745. That is how the village took its name "Castletownshend". The old village was further west in the townland of Castlehaven at the western end of the harbour, near the Glen of St. Barrahane, where the ruins of the old church are and the graveyard, near the castle of the O'Driscoll’s , called Castlehaven castle. Both the harbour and the parish are "Castlehaven", having been there long before the village grew up in Castletownshend.
Both churches are called St. Barrahane's after the local 5th century hermit saint, St. Barrahane.
The earlier history of Castletownshend and associated families begins at the time of the battle of Kinsale in 1601. From the main Spanish fleet a smaller flotilla of 6 ships were guided into Castlehaven harbour by local clan chief Donogh O'Driscoll and his brothers - the O'Driscolls were then in possession of Castlehaven castle.
The Spanish ships under the command of Don Pedro de Zuibar, were later attacked by British Admiral Levison. He sunk one ship and drove three others on to the rocks. After the battle of Kinsale the Spanish surrendered the O'Driscoll Castle to Captain Roger Harvey. Thereafter began the plantation of this part of West Cork. The O'Driscolls lost their possessions and many were forced to emigrate to Spain as part of the nation-wide exodus of the "Flight of the Earls".
Alderman Phane Becher, who founded Bandon, moved westward to Castlehaven in 1603. In 1616 George Touchet who had taken part in the Battle of Kinsale became Lord Audley, Earl of Castlehaven. In 1689 Colonel Richard Townshend having successfully repulsed an attack by a Colonel O'Driscoll (fighting on behalf of James II) was rewarded as an officer of the Long Parliament, by being granted large estates under the Act of Settlement. In 1690 Mac Fineen O'Driscoll again failed to take the Castle. In the same year descendants of the Reverend William Somerville, a Scottish Episcopalian Minister, made their way to Castletownshend. By the mid-eighteenth century the settlers had become well established, estates were improved and stately houses built. The Bechers, Townshends and Somervilles became wealthy until the post famine years of 1845, the Land Acts and the World Wars claimed the sons of many families who sought adventure in defence of the British Empire.
Castletownshend has beautiful Pubs for a pre- or after concert drink where you have a good chance of meeting the artists too:
Lil McCarthy’s, intimate, with a beautiful garden.
Mary Ann’s Pub & Restaurant, reservation advisable, Tel.: +353 (0)28-36146
For accommodation there are various B&Bs:
The Castle Guesthouse, Tel.: +353 (0)28-36100
Seaview, Tel.: +353 (0)28-36129
Atlantic View, Tel.: +353 (0)28-36440
Sandycove house, Tel.: +353 (0)28-36223
For more information contact:
Skibbereen Tourist Office: Tel.: +353 (0)28-21766, Fax: +353 (0)28-21353