The Norman family of FitzDavid de St. Michel founded "villa Michel" (alias "Michelstown") in the 13th century. They named the town in honour of their patron, Saint Michael the Archangel, who according to Christian tradition led heavenly forces into battle against the forces of Satan. The popularly acknowledged patron saint of the parish is Fanahan, a warrior-monk who founded a monastery at Brigown in the seventh century.
The medieval town -'a den of vagabonds, thieves and rioters' - was rebuilt by Robert and Caroline, Viscount and Viscountess Kingsborough, in the late 1700s. The 'new' town had two main streets intersected by several smaller ones, to form a grid pattern. It also had two fine squares ? New Market Square and King Square ? as well as several interesting public and private buildings. The design also utilised views of the Galtee Mountains from George Street and Cork Street, so that, taken as a whole, it may be regarded as one of the best planned towns in Ireland.
King Square formed the entrance to Mitchelstown Castle, which was rebuilt by George, Earl of Kingston, in 1823. The castle was the biggest and grandest neo-Gothic house in Ireland, and reflected the earl?s status as ?the principal gentleman of County Cork.?
The Kingsboroughs also established new industries, such as silk manufacturing at Mulberry Lane, corn milling, linen weaving and brewing. Under a royal charter granted in 1618, weekly markets - first established in the town in the 14th century - were held every Thursday.
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