Featured image for Belvelly Castle

The History of Belvelly Castle

Often described as a great island icon or a legend, Belvelly Castle is a gorgeous piece of history situated near the quaint village of Belvelly in County Cork, Ireland. While this castle doesn’t have a history as long and grand compared to others of its kind, it has a rich heritage. This beautiful castle overlooks the only road bridge connecting Fota Island to Great Island.

The history of Belvelly Castle

Belvelly Castle takes on a rather dramatic situation overlooking a beautiful body of water. Its picturesque location only further proves just how beautiful this castle really is. On the inside, the castle boasts luxury in a simple yet extravagant way. The owners of the castle say that it was quite the challenge to bring this vital piece of Irish heritage back to life.

They also went on to say that it was something they could not refuse. However, it took a long time for this island icon to become what it is today. With that said, let’s take a look at the history of Belvelly Castle.

Belvelly Castle
The 14th century Belvelly Castle. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The early history

Belvelly Castle was originally built by the Anglo-Norman Hodnett family as a royal home in the 14th century. Though it wasn’t theirs for long as it was taken by the De la Roch (Roche) and the De Barra (Barry) families sometime during the 14th century. Later on, the Hodnett’s leased back their lands.

Changing hands

Many reliable sources suggest that the castle was occupied by Walter Raleigh in the 16th century. However, once again, it was reoccupied by the De Barra family. During the Irish Confederate Wars, Belvelly Castle was used by Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery to garrison troops in the mid 17th century.

Portrait of Walter Raleigh
Walter Raleigh. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The 19th century

By the time the 19th century had come around, the castle had fallen into significant ruin. The castle received a large number of visitors that was always increasing during World War I. This was because local coachmen had brought sailors docked at Queenstown to the castle. It is said that the visitors were under the impression that they were actually visiting Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney Stone.

Further on from this, the castle, significantly ruined, was occupied by the Irish Army during the Emergency. During this time, they somewhat modified the castle.

The present day

Early in the 21st century, Belvelly Castle was sold. Then, in 2016, planning permission was granted for restoration use to begin at the castle to make it a private dwelling. This redevelopment was completed in 2018 and additional artworks were added on the roof of the tower house. Nowadays, the castle has been restored to the grand building it once was with a slight modern twist.

You may be interested in other Irish Castle such as Dunluce Castle.

Belvelly Castle Timeline

  • 14th century- Belvelly Castle is built
  • 14th century- The castle is taken by the De la Roch (Roche) and the De Barra (Barry) families
  • 16th century- The castle is occupied by Walter Raleigh
  • Mid 17th century- During the Irish Confederate Wars, the castle is used by Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery to garrison troops
  • 19th century- The castle falls into significant ruin
  • Early 21st century- Belvelly Castle is sold
  • 2016- Planning permission is granted for restoration to begin
  • 2018- Development of the castle is complete and additional artworks are added to the roof of the tower house

Belvelly Castle facts

  • The castle is in a strategic location
  • Sir Peter Courthope, and MP for Cork, rented the castle for around 15 years for an annual rent price of £60
  • The castle was occupied by the Irish Army during the Emergency
  • The castle overlooks the only road bridge connecting Fota Island to Great Island
  • It was quite the challenge to bring this vital piece of Irish heritage back to life

Who owns Belvelly Castle?

After changing hands for many years, Belvelly Castle finally found a safe place to be remodelled in the hands of Garry and Anne Wilson. The Belvelly Castle official site states “Welcome to Belvelly Castle. Our motto is to “live an interesting life” and the challenge of bringing this vital piece of Irish heritage back to life was something we couldn’t refuse. We hope you enjoy reading about the Castle and our journey. Thank you, Garry & Anne Wilson”

Tourism

Unfortunately, you cannot visit Belvelly Castle. That is because it is now privately owned by Anne and Garry Wilson. However, you can enjoy a drive-by or simply wander past the castle at your own leisure. Even if you cannot see inside, the outside boasts a grand appeal that anyone would be lucky to see.

Nearby, you can also visit the lovely Blarney Castle and Gardens, Fota Wildlife Park, Blarney Stone, Crawford Art Gallery, and Blackrock Castle Observatory.

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