The aim of this project was to prepare a draft Conservation Management Plan for Kanturk Castle, Co. Cork, an Irish Renaissance palace, on behalf of An Taisce. The plan was to consider the key conservation issues affecting the castle, and also to investigate the issues and impact of tourism development. Conservation Management Plans provide an understanding of the significance and vulnerability of a place, and provide guidelines, together with a set of specific actions for the management of that place for future generations. They aim to balance responsibilities to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of a place with active and creative policies to facilitate access and protect its significance for now and into the future.
The fortified house of Kanturk Castle is a four-storey rectangular block with five-storey flanking corner towers. The first-floor principal historic entrance is centered on the west wall with an arched limestone doorway framed by pilasters, cornice and frieze. The base-battered rubble walled shell of the castle preserve a number of architectural features including continuous string courses at each floor, mullion & transom and round-arched windows, pointed arch doorways, fireplaces, yett-holes, gun loops, and tapering corbels, formerly supporting continuous machicolations, atop each wall face. Kanturk Castle in Co. Cork is one of a series of castles built during the late 16th and first half of the 17th century and sometimes interpreted as a transition from medieval tower houses to roomier, better-lit and more comfortable fortified houses. Kanturk Castle is unusual in that the historical records and local tradition indicate it was never completed.
The precise construction date of the castle is not known and the more recent authors on castles in Cork have not reached concensus on a likely date. The existing physical evidence at Kanturk Castle (including a comparative stone weathering study) does not suggest that the building was ever completed to a stage where a roof structure was in place, or that the wall surfaces were finished internally or externally. J.N. Healy recounted that Dermot MacOwen MacCarthy mortgaged the castle to Sir Philip Percival. Dermot was involved in the rebellion of 1641 and died in 1647. His son and grandson were killed in the Batttle of Knocknaclashy in 1652. In 1666, the Court of Claims decreed that Percival’s grandson should inherit Kanturk on the basis of “undischarged debts”. Percival also inherited Lohort Castle. The family became the Earls of Egmont and eventually donated Kanturk castle to the Society for the Preservation of National Monuments (SPAB) c.1889/1890. Kanturk Castle has since passed into the care of An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland.