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Cill Briotáin
Lorry on main street
Lorry on main street
Kilbrittain is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 51°40′24″N 8°41′17″W / 51.673401°N 8.68819°W / 51.673401; -8.68819Coordinates: 51°40′24″N 8°41′17″W / 51.673401°N 8.68819°W / 51.673401; -8.68819
 • Urban
216 [1]
Time zoneUTC+0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-1 (IST (WEST))
Irish Grid ReferenceW561512

Kilbrittain or Killbrittain (Irish: Cill Briotáin, meaning "Britton's church")[2] is the name of a village, townland and parish in County Cork, Ireland. The village lies about 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Bandon, and near Clonakilty and Kinsale. The coastal route around the edge of the parish is the R600 road. The village itself is around 1 mile (1.6 km) inland from the coast.

Features of interest[edit]

Kilbrittain Castle is the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland. The Castle is thought to date from 1035 where the original fortress may have been built by the O'Mahony clan. Known to have been in the hands of the Norman family of de Courcey and possibly extended in the 13th century, Kilbrittain Castle was the principal seat of MacCarthy Reagh family, Princes of Carbery, from the early 15th century. The castle was extensively restored and enlarged by the Stawell family in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was partially burned in 1920 and restored in 1969 by inventor Russell Winn. Kilbrittain Castle is now the home of the Cahill-O'Brien family. Howes Strand is a beach in Kilbrittain with the ruin of a Coast Guard station that overlooks the beach, built in 1910 and burnt down in 1920.[3]

Coolmain Castle was originally built by the de Courcey family in the early 15th century, but they lost it to the MacCarthy Reaghs, the Princes of Desmond, the following century. Over the years it passed through the hands of a number of families, including that of the Earls of Cork. In the middle of the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell acquired the property. In the early 1900s it was owned by a popular American novelist of the day, Donn Byrne.


Kilbrittain GAA club fields Gaelic football and hurling teams. It is affiliated with Cork GAA and Carbery GAA. Kilbrittain G.A.A club was founded In 1904 and celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2004. Kilbrittain have very successful underage teams. Under 14 and Under 16 have won the West Cork Championship in 2008. The club won the Cork Minor C Football Championship in 2008 beating Castletownbere in the Final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.


There are two primary schools in Kilbrittain. Gurraneasig National School, which is located near to Howes Strand and Kilbrittain National School which is in the village, located alongside the church. Kilbrittain NS received a new school building in the late 1990s, while Gurraneasig has recently opened a new modern extension to the original building which contained just two classrooms. Both schools take part in GAA Leagues called Sciath na Scol. Kilbrittain N.S have won it with both the Boys and Girls team on several occasions.


Each summer, the owners of Burren House, which overlooks Courtmacsherry Bay, hold an open-air opera to raise funds in aid of the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat. Annually in August, Kilbrittain hosts a Family Festival which draws large crowds. In 2011, a short film, The Blow-Ins, was shot in Kilbrittain and Courtmacsherry; the film was released in 2012.[4]


Kilbrittain whale[edit]

On 15 January 2009, an 18-metre (59 ft) fin whale stranded and subsequently died on a beach in Courtmacsherry Bay, after becoming disorientated and lured by unusually high tides. Efforts were made by Courtmacsherry Lifeboat to get the whale back into the sea but a combination of its size and weight meant that attempts to save the whale's life were unsuccessful.

The whale was featured in a Channel 4 documentary "Inside Nature's Giants" which showed autopsies of large mammals. It is still viewable on the Channel 4 website '4oD'.

There was some dispute as to whether Kilbrittain or Courtmacsherry had the claim to the whale and local songwriter, Michael O'Brien of Butlerstown, composed and recorded a humorous song on the topic," The Kilmacsherry Whale".[8]

The skeleton of the whale is now on display in the village park to the east of the village.

The Book of Lismore[edit]

It is believed that the Book of Lismore was compiled in the 15th Century to commemorate the marriage of the Gaelic lord Finghin Mac Cárthaigh Riabhach, of Kilbrittain Castle, to Caitilín, daughter of the seventh earl of Desmond. The medieval manuscript contains 166 large vellum folios of material that a learned person of the time would have been expected to know. It later became known as Leabhar Mhic Cárthaigh Riabhaigh. MacCarthy was patron of the friary at Timoleague, and some of the book’s pages were copied there in 1629 by the scribe Mícheál Ó Cléirigh.

During a raid on Kilbrittain in 1642, the book was taken by Lewis, Lord Kinalmeaky, of Lismore who sent it back to his father, with a letter, at Lismore Castle. The book remained there until it was discovered behind a wall at the castle in 1814, during rebuilding works.

The Book of Lismore is written in Irish, but not the modern version spoken today. It is written on vellum, made from calfskin, an expensive material at the time of the book’s writing, in the 15th century. The Book of Lismore contains many important texts, including a cosmological work, the Ever-new Tongue; the most extensive account of the lives of the saints in an Irish-language medieval manuscript; an Irish translation of the travels of Marco Polo; and one of the greatest compositions of the Fenian Cycle, Acallam na Senórach, or The Conversation of the Old Men. The illustrated capitals are thought to have been added in the 19th century by Donnchadh Ó Floinn, an Irish-language scribe living on Shandon Street in Cork.[9][10]

Kilbrittain Festival[edit]

Kilbrittain Festival has been running since 2004 and has grown in popularity every year.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Bunachar Logainmneacha na hÉireann". 2015-11-03. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 5 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "'The Blow-Ins' Wraps in West Cork". Film Ireland. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Donn Byrne - Poet and Novelist, I am in my sleeping". 1928-06-18. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
  6. ^ "Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne (1889–1928)". Retrieved 2015-12-12.
  7. ^ [2] Archived May 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ On the CD "Quare Times -Songs and Rhymes to see us through", 2009.
  9. ^ "Lost and found: the leabhar of Lismore comes home". 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
  10. ^ "The Book of Lismore". 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2015-12-12.

External links[edit]