OBJECTID: 68236 Monument Identifier: KE09545 Classification: UNCA Irish Grid Easting: 77421 Irish Grid Northing: 62757 RMP_PROP: 1 County ID: 12 WebNotes: On top of a cliff, overlooking Kenmare Bay to the NW. A roughly D-shaped area (c. 30m NW-SE; c. 30m NE-SW) enclosed by a curtain wall from NE to SW and elsewhere defined by the cliff-edge (see plan Salter 2004, 94). The curtain wall is poorly preserved, surviving to varying height and thickness, and covered by a dense overgrowth of thorns, briars and ivy. From the cliff-edge at the NW, it continues around to the cliff-edge to the SW in five straight sections of varying lengths. There are fragmentary remains of a tower at the S corner, projecting out from the curtain wall, and a collapsed tower at the E corner, projecting from the inside of the wall. The ground, covered by thorn bushes, slopes down steeply in front of the curtain wall. Large chunks of bonded masonry lie on the slope below the S tower. The interior is level but covered by rough grass and hawthorn saplings. In the SW portion there are the remains of a rectangular structure and a sunken feature lies near the cliff-edge, mid-way along. From the cliff-edge at NE, the curtain wall runs 11m in a SE direction; this section is c. 1m thick and has an external base-batter. It then turns S for 7m to a gateway. This latter section is also c. 1m thick and very fragmentary. The gateway (Wth 1.75m), buried to more that half its height by rubble, is covered by a pointed arch of rough voussoirs. There is a very broken drawbar-socket on its S side. Beyond the gateway the curtain wall runs a further 7.65m to the S but is now c. 2m in thickness, with an external base-batter. This section is pierced by a wide broken opening (Wth c. 3.8m). The curtain wall then turns and continues SW for a further 7.7m. This section of the wall (T c. 2m) is c. 4.5m high, whereas former sections are c. 2m in height. The wall then changes angle again and continues W for 7m; this section is also c. 4.5m in height but c. 2.7m in thickness. Against the outside of this section are the remains of the S tower. Beyond this latter section the curtain wall is much reduced in height (H c. 2m) and is missing most of its facing-stones; it runs a further c. 7m to the cliff-face.
On the inside face, on the same line as the W wall of the S tower, is a rectangular door ope (Wth 0.95m), missing its side edges but covered by a lintel. This gives access to the base of a mural stairway (Wth 1.05m) which rises up through the curtain wall to the E; the stairway is now largely blocked by rubble. Near its base is a slit window facing into the interior of the castle. At the top of the stairs is a short passage with a doorway in its S wall leading into the first-floor chamber of the S tower (see below). At this level is a passageway (Wth 1.35m) running at least 4m to the E along the top of the curtain wall; this area is very ruinous but the passage appears to have been roofed by lintels. The S tower is largely reduced to a mound of rubble, overgrown by hawthorn bushes. Still standing to two storeys is the N wall, which is part of the curtain wall; from this project short returns of the E and W walls. The W wall (L 3m; T 1.6m) butts onto the curtain wall, but the E wall, which projects at an obtuse angle to the SE, is the same build as the curtain wall. This wall has lost all of its facing-stones. At first-floor level are the broken remains of a doorway, at the E end of the N wall, leading to a landing at the top of the mural stairs in the curtain wall (see above). On the inside face of the N wall are slight remains of the springing of a vault over the first-floor chamber.
The E tower is largely reduced to a sod-covered mound (H c. 5m). Projecting from the top of the mound are parts of the N and E walls; the N wall has very fragmentary remains of a mural stairs lit by a slit window.
Just inside the curtain wall to the SW is the sod-covered foundation of a rectangular structure (13.5m NW-SE; 6m NE-SW) with an opening (Wth 1.3m) midway along its NE side. Midway along and just inside the NW cliff-edge, is a circular flat-bottomed depression (diam. 2m; D 1.5m). Extending out from this to the S is a sunken passage (L 1m; Wth 1.3m; D 0.85m), covered by lintels, which ends at a vertical earthen face. The exact nature of this feature is unclear but it is very unlikely to be a souterrain though it was recorded as such in the 1930s by Capt. D. B. O'Connell (KAS).
Ardea Castle has been in its present condition since at least the 1840s (OSL, 177). It was a castle of O'Sullivan Beare and 'home of the tanist of the family' (Barrington 1976, 299-300). In 1601 it was the site of a landing of money and ammunition by a Spanish ship (Smith 1756, 158). According to tradition, it was sacked by Cromwellians (Lansdowne 1937, 155-6); this may explain the ruined state of the S tower where 'the solid masses of masonry which have been blown far from their original position' (ibid.).
The above description is derived from the published 'Archaeological Inventory of County Kerry. Volume I: South-West Kerry' (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2009). In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.
Date of upload: 30 May 2011 Zone Code: R101348 ITM Easting: 477398 ITM Northing: 562821 SHAPE: Point Att.: 1 Class: Castle - unclassified SMR No.: KE100-022001- Townland: ARDEA Point: X: 477398.0 Y: 562821.0 Spatial Reference: 2157