Castle Barrett aka Castlemore was built circa 1199-1235 by the Knights Templar to protect Mourne Abbey. It lies in the northern end of “Barrett’s Country” (four miles south of the town of Mallow) on the border with Muskerry.
This boldly situated castle commanding a high elevation above the river Clyda was built west of Mourne Abbey, one the other side of the river. According to local tradition, an underground passage is believed to run from Barretts Castle towards the abbey. Castlemore consisted of an oblong structure connected with a lofty tower. At the south side stood a three-quarter round tower, which gave a handsome finish to the structure. (Photo: the remaining fragments are from the north and east walls).
The De Cogan family later purchased the property after being given permission from the King to hold a weekly market at the property. After losing wealth and power, the De Cogan family sold CastleMore and it was eventually purchased by the Barrett family in the early 1600s.
The castle was damaged by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in 1645 and was later taken over in 1690. John Barrett lost 12,000 acres to the invading forces and “Castle Barrett previously CastleMore” was destroyed. Here are the remains of what was once the centre of a 12,000-acre empire run commanded by the Barrett Family.
The crest of the Barretts of Castlemore is a human heart with large wings and the legend is “In Rectitudine Deus Nos Sustinebit”.
It is said that in 1600, O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, while marching by Castlemore near Mallow, on his way to Kinsale to assist the Spaniards, asked who lived in that castle, and being told one Barrett, who was a good Catholic, and his family possessed of that estate for over 400 years, O’Neill swore in Irish
“No matter; I hate the English churl as if he came but yesterday”.
In 1645, Castle Barrett was damaged, by Oliver Cromwell’s army. It was reduced to ruins by the forces of William III, following the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 (when 12,000 acres of “Jacobite” Barrett land was forfeited to the new king). The round tower survived until 1835, when the owner pulled it down in “a brutish act” for building materials (that were already plentiful in the area). Today, just a few parts of the walls remain, standing like stone sentinels. These picturesque remains can be seen by the Dublin train as it draws in to Mallow.
In both Mayo and Cork powerful Barrett lineages forming clans along native lines thrived for centuries; the Cork group by conquering a territory just west of the city in the fourteenth century at the expense of other colonists.