Dunkerron Castle

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Dunkerron Castle
Templenoe, County Kerry
Near Kenmare in Ireland
Tower house at Dunkerron
Tower house at Dunkerron
Coordinates51°52′32″N 9°37′15″W / 51.87556°N 9.62083°W / 51.87556; -9.62083Coordinates: 51°52′32″N 9°37′15″W / 51.87556°N 9.62083°W / 51.87556; -9.62083
TypeTower house
Height4 storeys
Site information
Site history
Built13th century (Norman tower house), 16th century (Adjoining court house)

Dunkerron Castle (Irish: Caisleán Dún Ciarán)[1] is a ruined four-storey tower house located in Templenoe, near Kenmare, County Kerry, in south-west Ireland. The castle was the family seat of the O'Sullivan Mór family from the late 16th century.


The four-storey tower house was built in the 13th century on a limestone outcrop as a Norman (Carew) stronghold.[2][3][1] Several later structures of the castle, including an enclosed court, date to the late 16th century, when Owen O'Sullivan became 'Chief of the Name' and acceded to the title of 'O'Sullivan Mór'.[4][5][2][6] An inscribed plaque, dated 1596, recorded the castle's association with the O'Sullivan Mór and MacCarthy Reagh dynasties.[2][7] The castle was the family seat of the O'Sullivan Mór for some time.[8][9]

The main O'Sullivan Mór familial seat moved to nearby Cappanacush Castle during the 17th century,[10] and antiquary Samuel Lewis noted that both castles were "traditionally said to have been defended" by their O'Sullivan Mór owners during the mid-17th century Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.[11] The O'Sullivan castles and lands at Dunkerron and Cappanacush were confiscated following this conflict under the Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652, and assigned to Cromwellian supporter William Petty.[6] Later O'Sullivan attempts to have the lands returned were not successful.[12]

By the 19th century, maps record the castle and court as being "in ruins",[13] and a Victorian manor house, Dunkerron House, was built on the estate around that time.[14][15]

Text from an inscribed stone which is dated 1596, and attributes certain works at the castle to Owen O'Sullivan Mór and his wife Sily Ní Donogh MacCarthy Reagh.[16]


One of the last members of a branch of the O'Sullivans was Donal O'Sullivan, who died on 16 April 1754, without issue or heirs.[17] The title he bore, the "Prince of Dunkerron", became extinct on his death.[17] The British monarchy did issue a peerage title of Baron Dunkeron to John Petty.[18] (John Petty was Sheriff of Kerry from 1732,[18] and a descendant of the William Petty to whom the lands had been given following the Cromwellian confiscations). The title assigned to Petty was not however related to the original title of the native Irish nobility.


  1. ^ a b Gary B. O'Sullivan (2007). The Oak and Serpent. p. 279. ISBN 9780615155579.
  2. ^ a b c Friar O'Sullivan (Muckross Abbey) (1898). "Ancient History of the Kingdom of Kerry" (PDF). Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society. IV (40): 260. ISSN 0010-8731. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 January 2017.
  3. ^ Ann O'Sullivan, John Sheehan (1996). The Iveragh peninsula: an archaeological survey of South Kerry. Cork University Press. p. 375.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Colin Breen (2007). An Archaeology of Southwest Ireland, 1570-1670. Four Courts Press. p. 115. ISBN 9781846820403.
  5. ^ Windele, John (1859). "Dunkerron Castle". Journal of the Kilkenny and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society. 2 (2): 292–301. JSTOR 25502562.
  6. ^ a b William Betham (1805). The Baronetage of England ... Volume 5. Miller. p. 559.
  7. ^ George V. Du Noyer. "Notes on Sculptures and an Inscription Carved on a Chimney-Piece Preserved in the Building Attached to Dunkerron Castle". Journal of the Kilkenny and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society. II (2): 290–292. JSTOR 25502561.
  8. ^ "The O'Sullivan Clan - History of the Clan". BearaTourism.com. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  9. ^ Geoffrey Keating (1723). History of Ireland, Volumes 1-3. p. 700.
  10. ^ "The History of Cappanacush Castle". Templenoe.net. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013.
  11. ^ Samuel Lewis (1837). Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. p. 611.
  12. ^ "NMS Database - Entry for Dunkerron (ref# KE092-026----)". Historic Environment Viewer. National Monuments Service (NMS). It remained O'Sullivan More property until 1656, when it was confiscated. It was then acquired by Sir William Petty, and subsequent attempts by O'Sullivan More to petition the return of his lands failed (Butler 1925, 43-4)
  13. ^ OSI - Historical Mapping - 25" B&W Series - Dunkerron (Map). Ordnance Survey of Ireland. 1897–1913. Retrieved 1 January 2017 – via geohive.ie.
  14. ^ "Dunkerron House". Dunkerron.ie. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Dunkerron House". Landed Estates Database. NUI Galway. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  16. ^ Friar O'Sullivan's JCHAS article of 1896 places this plaque over the fireplace.[1] A later errata note to the JCHAS article places the plaque over a well in the demesne.[2]
  17. ^ a b John O'Hart (1892). "O'Sullivan Mor (No.2) - Lords of Dunkerron". Irish Pedigrees; or the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation. p. 245.
  18. ^ a b "John Petty, 1st Earl of Shelburne, 1st Baron Dunkeron". ThePeerage.com. Retrieved 3 January 2016.