near Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland
Ross Castle is situated on the edge of Lough Leane one the lower lakes of Killarney National Park, 1.5 miles south of Killarney within the Kenmare Estate.
Ross Castle is a square tower house with bartizans, or overhanging turrets, on two of the tower’s corners and two (of the original four) round towers. The castle is surrounded by parts of a square bawn or defensive wall.
The castle has been refurbished in parts with the vaulted ceilings in the bed chamber being reconstructed using medieval techniques. Access to the bed chambers and parapets is via a circular stone staircase. The most important room of the castle is the Great Hall situated on the top floor with large windows, fireplace, kitchen and minstrels’ gallery.
The castle is open to the public from May until September by guided tour only with the highlights being the Great Hall, the reconstructed ceilings of the bed chamber and the wonderful views across the lake. Visitors also have the opportunity to see a collection of old furniture exhibited at the castle.
Those walking the Kerry Way can stop at the castle as it is located along the route, it is also possible to take a boat trip to Innisfallen Island from the castle’s dock.
Ross Castle was built by the O’Donoghue’s in the late 1400’s. At the time they were the ruling clan of Killarney and the surrounding area.
During the Desmond wars the castle became the property of the MacCarty Mor’s and it was Lord MacCarty (Muskerry) who defended the castle against Oliver Cromwell’s troops during the Confederate Wars in 1652. General Ludlow, 200 horses and 4,000 soldiers marched to Ross but the castle was taken not from land but by artillery from boats on the lough. The castle was recorded as being one of the last to surrender to the Roundheads.
It was the Browne family that received much of the confiscated lands including Ross Castle and went about adding a fortified house to the castle in 1688. Not long after this; during the Williamite Wars, the castle was converted and used as a military barracks with a more permanent barracks being built in the mid 18th century. The garrison finally moved out in 1825 and the castle was remodeled with larger loop windows being added and the roof of the barracks being removed.
Legend has it that O’Donoghue lies at the bottom of the lake watching everything that goes on after being sucked out of one of the windows along with his horse, library and table.
Other Castles in the Area
Aghadoe Round Tower, County Kerry
Ballymalis Castle, County Kerry
Ballyseede Castle, County Kerry
Muckross House, County Kerry
Parkavonear Castle, County Kerry