The first Kinnitty castle is recorded as destroyed in 1209 and rebuilt in 1213.  During that time the Augustinian abbey of St Finnian was established near to the castle.  Some remnants of this, the High Cross and Abbey Wall, still remain.  The fortress site was later acquired by the O'Carrolls of Ely and in 1630 William O'Carroll built a new castle close to the old abbey.  This house was confiscated in 1641 as part of the plantation of Offaly, or Kings County as it was then named.  In 1664, the crown granted an estate and castle, to Col. Thomas Winter in return for his military service.  His descendants sold it to Thomas Bernard, who renamed the house Castle Bernard and left it to his son Thomas Bernard, MP.

In 1811, Lady Catherine Hutchinson, the wife of the younger Thomas Bernard, commissioned architect James Pain to extend the castle in a gothic style to its present size.  Although burned by the Irish Republican Army in 1922, the house was restored in 1928 by means of a Government grant of £32,000.  There is no evidence of early work in the current building, but in the grounds to the SE is an attached court with thin walls with a medieval look and approximations of loops, doors and a gate.  They appear to be entirely modern.

Perhaps you would like to join me in visiting this and other great castles of Ireland in October with Scholarly Sojourns.  Details of the trip can be found by clicking here.


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry