Mallow Castle Cork History



Mallow Castle

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Discover the captivating history of Mallow Castle, a National Monument located in County Cork, Ireland. This ruined castle, dating back to the 1500s, is a fascinating site that showcases the architectural and historical significance of the region and there are actually three buildings.

With its 16th-century fortified house, 19th-century mansion, and the remains of a 13th-century castle, Mallow Castle represents centuries of rich history.

From its origins under King John to its capture during the Irish Confederate Wars, this site offers a glimpse into Ireland’s past. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for a stunning landmark to explore, Mallow Castle is a must-visit destination.


Architectural FeatureDescriptionTime Period
Fortified HouseA long rectangular three-story building designed for strategic defense, featuring two polygonal towers at its north-west and south-west corners.16th Century
Jacobean StyleCharacterized by high gables, stepped battlements, and mullioned windows. This style is prominently visible in the fortified house.Early 17th Century
Field of Fire DesignThe fortified house was constructed with a design allowing a complete field of fire around it, providing an advantage during battles or sieges.16th Century
Baronial MansionA refurbished and restored structure with features dating back to the 1690s. Situated near the older Mallow Castle ruins.19th Century (with parts from 1690s)
Reception RoomsThe mansion houses 8 diverse reception rooms, including a music room, billiard room, and library.19th Century
Ruined CastleRemains of an older structure to the east of the main site, representing an earlier architectural style.13th Century

The fortified house is a long rectangular three-storey structure with two polygonal towers on the north-west and south-west corners. It is built in the early Jacobean style, characterized by high gables, stepped battlements, and mullioned windows.

The wings of the house project from the center of the south and north walls, with the entrance located in the north wing. The design of the house was intended to provide a field of fire around it entirely.

The 19th-century mansion, situated near the ruined Mallow Castle, features parts that date back to the 1690s. It has been refurbished and now boasts eight reception rooms, including a music room, a billiard room, and a library. The mansion also offers 12 bedrooms, making it a grand and luxurious space.


The history of Mallow Castle dates back to its construction in the 16th century on the instructions of King John in 1185. In 1282, it came under the possession of the Earls of Desmond who erected a castle. This structure succeeded an earlier fortification held by the Norman de Rupe (or Roche) family, showcasing the site’s long-standing strategic importance.

However, after the Geraldine Wars, the estate was confiscated by Queen Elizabeth I, who granted it to Sir Thomas Norrey, along with the Lordship of Mallow and 6,000 acres of surrounding land. The castle, known as Desmond Castle, fell into disrepair, leading to the construction of a new castle on the same site in 1585.

The fortified house that stands today is believed to have been built by Sir Thomas Norreys, Lord President of Munster, in the 16th century. By 1584, Sir John Norreys established the castle as his headquarters.

After his death, the house was inherited by his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Sir John Jephson. Elizabeth Norreys, daughter of Sir Thomas, married Sir John Jephson around 1610 and was a god-daughter of Queen Elizabeth 1st.

The Jephson family resided at Mallow Castle for nearly 400 years. The castle faced attacks during the Irish Confederate Wars in 1642 but successfully withstood sieges. However, it was later damaged by fire during the Williamite War and subsequently abandoned by the Jephsons.

The Clock House, erected in 1855 by Sir Denham Orlando Jephson, houses a significant artifact: a clock from the tower of the Old Mallow Castle. This transfer melds the histories of both structures.

The bell within the Clock House was cast locally on Millerd Street in Cork. By around 1970, wear and age compromised the safety of the bell tower, necessitating its removal. However, recognizing its historical value, it was restored in 1995, allowing it to continue its long-standing role in the community.

The Jephson family went on to build a new mansion house on the older castle’s stable block. This 19th-century baronial mansion, which incorporates parts that date back to the 1690s, built near the older ruined mallow castle.


While Mallow Castle is primarily known for its exterior features and ruins, the interior of the castle complex holds its own historical significance. The fortified house, with its three stories and polygonal towers, offers a glimpse into the living spaces and defensive structures of the past.

The fortified house includes various architectural elements, such as mullioned windows and high gables, showcasing the craftsmanship of the time. Visitors can explore the interior spaces and visualize the lifestyles of the castle’s former residents.

In contrast, the 19th-century mansion provides a glimpse into a more luxurious and refined lifestyle. With its eight reception rooms, including a music room, billiard room, and library, the mansion demonstrates the wealth and social standing of the Jephson family.

Guided tours of the castle and mansion are available, allowing visitors to learn more about the history and architecture of the various structures within the complex. These tours provide a deeper understanding of the castle’s past, enriching the visitor experience.

Gardens and Parkland

The expansive grounds surrounding Mallow Castle are a testament to the beauty and tranquility of the estate. Spread over 33 acres, the gardens and parkland offer a peaceful retreat for visitors to enjoy.

The gardens are meticulously landscaped, featuring a variety of flora and fauna. Visitors can stroll through the manicured lawns, admire the colorful flower beds, and relax in the shade of mature trees. The natural beauty of the gardens provides the perfect backdrop for photographs and a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

The parkland surrounding the castle is equally alluring, with open spaces and walking paths for visitors to explore. The parkland allows for leisurely walks, picnics, and recreational activities, making it a favorite spot for families and nature enthusiasts.

Throughout the year, the gardens and parkland play host to various events and festivals, showcasing local talent and celebrating the cultural heritage of the region. These events add vibrancy and excitement to the castle complex, attracting visitors from near and far.

Current Use

Mallow Castle was designated as a National Monument in 1928, recognizing its historical and cultural significance. The castle and its grounds were sold to Mr. & Mrs. Michael & Judith McGinn of Washington, D.C. in 1984. In 2011, ownership of the castle and estate transferred to Cork County Council, ensuring its preservation for future generations.

Today, Mallow Castle is open to the public, allowing visitors to explore the ruins and experience its captivating history firsthand. The castle complex offers a glimpse into the past, showcasing the architectural styles and lifestyles of different eras.

The gardens and parkland surrounding the castle provide a tranquil setting for leisurely walks and picnics, offering visitors a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of the estate and they have been integrated with Mallow Town Park.


Mallow Castle is located in Bridewell Lane, Mallow, County Cork, Ireland. The castle is situated off the N72, making it easily accessible by road. County Cork itself is located in the southern part of Ireland, known for its picturesque landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage.

Visitors can reach Mallow Castle by various means of transportation. If traveling from abroad, the nearest international airport is Cork Airport, which offers flights to and from major cities in Europe and beyond. From the airport, visitors can rent a car or take a taxi to reach Mallow Castle.

FAQS About Mallow Castle Cork

Who owns Mallow Castle?

Mallow Castle is currently under the ownership of Cork County Council. They acquired the castle and its grounds to ensure its preservation and to provide public access to this historical monument.

Who built Mallow Castle?

Mallow Castle was initially erected by the Norman de Rupe (Roche) family. Over time, it underwent several reconstructions and enhancements by subsequent owners, including the prominent Desmond Fitzgeralds.

What is the history of Mallow, Ireland?

Mallow, situated in County Cork, has been a historically significant town since the Norman invasion. It has witnessed various sieges and battles, primarily due to its strategic location. Over the years, Mallow evolved into a major agricultural and market town, pivotal to Ireland’s development.

Who lived in Mallow Castle?

Mallow Castle was home to several influential families over the centuries. Initially, the Norman de Rupe (Roche) family inhabited it, followed by the Desmond Fitzgeralds. Later, the Norreys and the Jephson families also resided in the castle, leaving their indelible marks on its history.

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