OBJECTID: 59510 Monument Identifier: KE05252 Classification: TOHO Irish Grid Easting: 55517 Irish Grid Northing: 99166 RMP_PROP: 1 County ID: 12 WebNotes: Minard Castle: This was undoubtedly the last of the FitzGerald castles to be built on the peninsula and was probably in existence less than a century when it was blown up by Cromwellian forces c. 1650 (Smith 1756, 195-6).
The ruins consist of a rectangular tower house, 15.2m x 12.3m externally, built of roughly dressed sandstone blocks and split stone, with a rubble core of chippings and beach pebbles laid in a strong mortar. The ashlar quoins are alternatively face-bedded and the dressings are of sandstone throughout. Three storeys of the castle survive, but a 4th or attic storey probably existed above this. The 1st and 2nd storeys were vaulted (both vaults now collapsed) and the castle is in very poor condition. Undermining of the corners at ground floor level and defacing of the foundation courses, allied to the large cracks which extend vertically up the W and N walls, pose a very serious threat to the stability of the extant remains. The N, S and W walls survive to the springing line of the upper vault, but with the exception of the attached E returns of the N and S walls, the E wall stands to a height of only 2.5m. The internal layout of the castle is unusual in that the E end is occupied entirely by mezzanine floors, the lower floor commencing c. 2.5m above the main ground floor chamber. A circular stairs in the SE angle begins at this level.
The ground floor has a marked base batter returned on all sides to a height of c. 2.8m. The entrance was at ground level, at the S end of the E wall. The head and N jamb of the doorway have been broken away, and only section of the broadly chamfered S jamb remains. The opening was rebated internally for a door, and externally for a hinged iron grille, secured from a housing in the S ingoing by a chain passing through a hole in the S jamb. The entrance leads to a mural lobby with remains of a murder hole served from the mezzanine floor above. The lobby communicated with the ground floor chamber by a doorway with projecting chamfered jambs; its pointed head has now fallen. This chamber was roofed by a segmental vault, raised on wicker centering, the structural corbels for which survive on the W wall. The collapse of the vault is reputedly due to the explosion in 1650 (McKenna 1979, 13).
The ground floor was lit by 3 double-splayed vertical loops, c. 0.9m in height, centrally placed in the N, S and W walls. They are set in wide embrasures with segmental rear arches; traces of wicker centering are retained on the soffits. The jambs are rebated internally for wooden shutters, and the pivot holes and draw bar sockets survive. There is a wall-cupboard in the NE corner, its S side now broken away. An internal wooden stairs must have existed to provide access to the 1st floor.
The W and N walls of the main chamber at 1st floor level are considerably reduced in thickness, but the S wall projects to rest on the vault. The chamber was lit by 3 ogee-headed windows in the S, W, and N walls, with double chamfered jambs and sills, splayed ingoings and segmental rear arches. Draw bar sockets and pivot holes for shutters are preserved. The windows are set in wide embrasures; their beds, now much broken, are only slightly elevated above floor level. There are 2 wall-cupboards at the N and S ends of the W wall and a large set-back fireplace at the E end of the N wall. The latter now lacks its flat lintel but the moulded corbel supports are retained.
A square-headed doorway in the W ingoing of the window embrasure in the S wall leads to a mural chamber; the floor level here is below that of the main room and a short flight of steps (now broken) descends to it. The N wall of the mural chamber is checked to receive a door which closed against the window embrasure. The chamber has a well-preserved barrel vault, with traces of wicker centering still visible on its soffit. A short section near the entry is raised above the remainder. There are 2 narrow rectangular loops, c. 1.2m in height, with chamfered dressings, splayed ingoings and projecting slop stones, in the S wall. The draw bar sockets and pivot holes for wooden shutters survive.
The S wall of the main 1st floor chamber is splayed at its E end to accommodate a door which closed against the stairwell. Only section of the pointed head and S jamb of this door survive; the remainder, together with the N wall of the stair into which it was bonded, has fallen. A three-quarter turn descent, lit by a square-headed loop with chamfered dressings and splayed ingoings, communicated directly with the lower mezzanine floor. This was little more than a vaulted passageway commanding the murder hole which was awkwardly positioned at the foot of the stairs. The N section alone of the vaulted roof survives and only the NE and SE angles of the main E wall of the castle are preserved at this level.
Entry to the 2nd mezzanine storey was gained directly from the E end of the main 1st floor chamber. The higher level of the mezzanine would have necessitated a stepped ascent, but no trace of steps are preserved in the surviving section of the internal dividing wall. This storey accommodated a garderobe chamber at its N end, entered by a S facing doorway now lacking its dressings. The garderobe was fitted with a wall press in its W wall, and lit by a loop in the E wall; only the splayed ingoing and chamfered N jamb of the latter remain. This mezzanine storey also had a vaulted roof; the extant section over the garderobe preserves traces of wicker centering on its soffit.
Access to the 2nd floor of the castle was by means of the circular stairs in the SE angle. The bond holes for the wooden treads and risers are visible, but as only the shallow string on which these rested now survives, this floor proved inaccessible. The ascent from 1st to 2nd floor level was lit by a window in the E wall of the stairwell, only the S ingoing of which remains.
A doorway at 2nd floor level, preserving only its S jamb and section of its pointed head, led from the stairwell to a mural passage in the thickness of the S wall. The passage was roofed by flat lintels, now surviving only in the E sector. Immediately S of the doorway, the splayed ingoing and chamfered E jamb of a window survive, and undoubtedly there were other similar openings in the fallen section of the S wall. The SW corner of the castle does not survive to this level, but may have contained an angle loop similar to that at the NW corner. The splayed ingoing and chamfered N jamb of a window ope are preserved in the ragged W wall of the passage and a doorway near the E end of the N wall communicated with the main 2nd floor chamber. This doorway, now lacking its head, had plain jambs rebated for a doorway which closed against the passageway.
The main 2nd floor chamber had a timber floor carried on corbel courses on the N and S walls. A window in the W wall has fallen, and the wide embrasure in which it was set now lacks its rear arch. There are 2 wall-cupboards at the N and S ends of the W wall. A series of corbels (6 of which survive), which project from the N and S walls above cupboard height, may have supported the temporary wooden trussing used in the construction of the vaulted roof. A narrow ogee-headed window in the N wall has chamfered jambs and sill, and splayed ingoings. In the W wall of the embrasure in which it is set, is a square-headed doorway, with projecting jambs, leading to a mural passage in the thickness of the N wall. The passage is lit by 2 narrow rectangular windows in the N and W walls, and an angle loop in the NW corner. The latter now lacks its ingeniously carved mullion, which converted it from an angle loop proper to two N and W facing opes with chamfered dressings.
Entry to the 3rd mezzanine storey was probably from the E end of the main 2nd floor chamber, but only a short section of the internal dividing wall survives to this level. The extant section forms the W wall of the garderobe chamber accommodated in the N end of the mezzanine. The chamber was lit by an ope in the E wall, the splayed ingoing of which survives, and was fitted with a wall press in the W wall and possibly a 2nd in the N wall. The chute delivered behind the garderobe on the floor below.
The above description is derived from J. Cuppage, ‘Corca Dhuibhne. Dingle Peninsula archaeological survey. Ballyferriter. Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne’ (1986), no. 1009. In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.
Date of upload: 6 August 201 Zone Code: R104244 ITM Easting: 455499 ITM Northing: 599223 SHAPE: Point Att.: 0 Class: Castle - tower house SMR No.: KE054-063---- Townland: CILL MHUIRE (TC An Mhín Aird) Point: X: 455499.0 Y: 599223.0 Spatial Reference: 2157