In the late hours of Tuesday March 14 and early hours of Wednesday March 15 1905 a severe storm battered the south coast of Ireland. The wind blew with hurricane force, the severity of which had not been seen for many years in this part of the country. A considerable amount of damage was caused at sea and on land.

Cork Harbour was particularly badly hit and four Rathcoursey fishermen tragically lost their lives.

In Clonakilty, about eight feet of the Presbyterian Church spire fell and caused considerable damage to the roof of the building.

In Skibbereen it was reported that people had an uneasy and anxious night and in the morning the streets were strewn with slates and debris of all descriptions, but, thankfully, there was no loss of life. In the country, the damage was very great, ricks of hay and corn being swept away, houses stripped and trees uprooted.

From an historic interest, an unfortunate casualty of the great storm of 1905 was Rossbrin Castle. That noble structure, once an O’Mahony stronghold on a promontory stretching out to sea, was already in a largely ruinous state but the ferocity of the hurricane-force winds of March 14 and 15 brought the western wall crashing down and further undermined the structure. Another severe storm in 1963 caused a further collapse of the ruin, and more damage occurred in 1975.

Rossbrin-Castle-1-giff
Rossbrin Castle

Having withstood the attacks of the elements and of mankind for centuries, what remains now of Rossbrin Castle is in a very precarious state. The original structure had been about forty feet in height, the walls being massive and of great strength. The north east corner still stands to four storeys and gives us some indication of how imposing a fortress it must have been on that rock outcrop in such an elevated position on the west side of Rossbrin Bay.

That little headland Ros Broin (Bron’s Headland) is about two miles south of Ballydehob and is supposedly named after Bron, grandfather of Cian, from whose son Mahon the name of the clan O’Mahony was derived.

Rossbrin is the most easterly of the O’Mahony castles in West Cork and is stated to have been built in 1310. The scholar Fineen O’Mahony lived there for much of his life. The O’Mahony of Rossbrin was always a bitter and determined opponent of the English invaders.

The castle was the scene of many battles. It was attacked and taken in 1562 and again in 1571. It is thought that the attack by Sir George Carew, Deputy Governor of Munster, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, with a strong force caused a fissure in the western wall which then became an easy prey to the force of the elements over the following centuries.

Following the destructive storm of March 1905 local people along the coast who knew the castle expressed much regret that it should have fallen, and the picked up from the ruins the cannon balls, etc., which were used in the attack by Carew as tokens of remembrance of former times when the ancient Irish clans had held sway.

 

Partial destruction of Rossbrin Castle in 1905

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