"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Sioux under General
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Charles Fort (Dún Chathail), a star-fort was completed in 1682, and was sometimes referred to as the “new fort” – in contrast with James’ Fort (the “old fort”) which had been built on the other side of Kinsale harbour before 1607. An underwater chain was strung between Charles and James forts across the harbour mouth during times of war to scuttle enemy shipping by ripping the bottoms out of incoming vessels. Looking at an aerial photo of Charles Fort was like déjà vu as it is almost the same shape as the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town! 

Charles Fort was built on the site of an earlier stronghold known as Ringcurran Castle, the defences of which had featured prominently during the Siege of Kinsale in 1601. With a focus on seaward defence, the landward and inland bastions of the fort are overlooked by higher ground. This weakness was of critical importance when the fort was subject to a 13-day siege in 1690. 

A lighthouse was also established at the fort in the 17th century. The fort remained in use as a British Army barracks for two hundred years afterwards, before being relinquished by British forces following the  Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. It fell out of use after being burned by retreating anti-Treaty forces during the Irish Civil War in 1922.

 

The complex remained largely derelict for some time, but was named a  National Monument of Ireland in 1971. Over the following decades several sections of the fort were restored and it is now open to the public. 

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A modern addition, aimed at visiting children, are numerous little fairy-doors affixed to the castle walls around the complex. The brightly painted doors are about 10cm high and stand out in stark contrast to the dreary grey coloured stone walls of the castle.

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Inside one of the dungeon cells

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The weather started closing in again, so we headed back down the hill to the Bulman Pub, a bright orange pub just down the hill from the castle. By the time we got there the rain was pelting down. We were glad to be in the warm dry pub. A few pints later the rain had subsided, so we headed back up the hill again and home.

 

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