Blackrock Castle

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Blackrock Castle
Caisleán na Carraige Duibhe[1]
Cork, Ireland
Blackrock Castle (Blackrock, Co.Cork).jpg
Coordinates 51°54′00″N 8°24′09″W / 51.9°N 8.4025°W / 51.9; -8.4025Coordinates: 51°54′00″N 8°24′09″W / 51.9°N 8.4025°W / 51.9; -8.4025
Type Castellated fortification
Height 5 stories,[2] >100 feet (30 m)[3]
Site information
Owner Cork City Council
Open to
the public
Yes
Site history
Built
  • 1582 - original fort
  • 1604 - redeveloped as castle
  • 1722 - tower rebuilt after fire
  • 1829 - larger rebuild after fire
  • 2002 - observatory added[4]
In use As visitor centre and observatory
Materials Limestone, ashlar masonry[2]

Blackrock Castle is a castellated fortification located at Blackrock, about 2 km from the centre of Cork city on the banks of the River Lee in Ireland. Originally developed as a coastal defence fortification in the 16th century to protect upper Cork Harbour and port, the site now houses an observatory, visitor centre and restaurant.[5]

History[edit]

Blackrock Castle
Blackrock Castle with observatory

In the late 16th century, the citizens of Cork appealed to Queen Elizabeth I to construct a fort at Blackrock to "repel pirates and other invaders". In 1582 a fortification was built on the site,[6] and later around 1600, a round tower was constructed to safeguard against pirates "carrying away" vessels entering the harbour.[7] The earliest elements of this structure remaining today are a circular tower on the water's edge, 10.5m in diameter, with walls 2.2m thick.

Blackrock Castle was in the ownership of the City of Cork following a charter of James I to the city in 1608. The castle is later referred to in the Council Book of Cork in 1613 and 1614. In 1722 the old four-storey tower was destroyed by fire and new one built by the citizens, costing £296.

Throughout this period, the castle was used by Cork Corporation for banquets and "convivial gatherings" - some associated with the custom of "throwing the dart".[8] This custom, dating to at least the 18th century,[9] was held every three years in August, and involved a dart (an arrow about four feet long) being thrown by the Mayor from a boat, to indicate the Corporation's jurisdiction over the harbour.[10][11]

Following a banquet, the castle was destroyed by fire in 1827. The rebuilding began at the direction of Mayor Thomas Dunscombe in 1828 and was completed in March 1829. The architects added three additional storeys to the original tower and rebuilt the out-buildings. The new building cost the City of Cork £1,000.[4] The architects were George Richard Pain and James Pain, who were responsible for other public buildings around Cork at the time.[12] The neo-gothic complex of buildings around a courtyard is essentially what remains today.

The castle entered private hands and for a time in the 20th century was used as a private residence, offices, rowing club headquarters, and restaurant.[2][4] The building was reacquired by Cork Corporation in 2001, and work commenced on renovating and re-purposing the complex as an observatory and museum.

Interactive museum space

Observatory[edit]

In the early-2000s, Blackrock Castle was redeveloped under a joint venture between Cork City Council, Cork Institute of Technology and a private benefactor.[who?]

The "Cosmos at the Castle" project was intended to create a "centre for scientific research, outreach and communication".[13] A feature of the facility is the manner in which visitors are encouraged to interact with science.[citation needed][promotional language]

Blackrock Castle houses Ireland's first interactive astronomy center.[citation needed][promotional language] The exhibition is open to the public, and includes a "tour of the universe", a "social software" cinema, a radio telescope that beams messages composed by school groups towards nearby stars, and an optical telescope that searches for flashes of light that may be evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence.[citation needed][promotional language]

The castle also houses a team of astronomical researchers from Cork Institute of Technology who work on the exhibits, support Ireland's first robotic observatory and are engaged in a number of astronomy projects.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Réamhfhocal ó Bhainisteoir na Cathrach". Cork City Council Annual Report 2006 (PDF) (Report). Cork City Council. 2006. 
  2. ^ a b c "Blackrock Castle Observatory, Castle Road, Blackrock, Cork City". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "Blackrock Castle, Cork, Illuminated" (PDF). Cork City Library "Past & Present" Project. Illustrated London News. 1863. 
  4. ^ a b c "Blackrock Castle History". Blackrock Castle Observatory. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  5. ^ "The Castle Restaurant, Blackrock Castle". Castlecafe.ie. 
  6. ^ James Coleman (1915). "The Old Castles Around Cork Harbour". Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (Cork Historical and Archaeological Society) XXI: 106. 
  7. ^ Daniel Breen (2014). Cork Harbour Through Time. Amberley Publishing Limited. ISBN 9781445634265. 
  8. ^ Thomas Crofton Croker (1823). "Chapter XI - Cork Harbour". Researches in the South of Ireland. p. 212. 
  9. ^ "Your Council >> Charters". Cork City Council. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  10. ^ "Local know-how rules the waves". Irish Independent. 17 July 1998. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  11. ^ "Ceremony Of "Throwing The Dart"" (PDF). Cork City Library "Past & Present" Project. Illustrated London News. 2 June 1855. 
  12. ^ "DIA entry - Co Cork, Blackrock Castle". Dictionary of Irish Architects. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  13. ^ "Cosmos at the Castle". Blackrock Castle Observatory. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 

External links[edit]