Two 17thC forts guard the entrance to Kinsale harbour in County Cork. The view shown here is from Charles Fort, built later than James’ Fort, a similar star-shaped stronghold on the other side of the inlet. This was designed to resist attack by cannon.
Charles Fort is built on the site of an earlier defence, Ringcurran Castle, which featured prominently during the Siege of Kinsale in 1601. The fort, named after King Charles II, was designed in the 1670/80 period by the Surveyor-general Sir William Robinson, who also designed the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin. It was one of the largest forts built in Ireland and had three bastions, projecting outwards from the main wall, facing the land, and two half-bastions where the walls reached the water. When combined with the guns on the opposite side of the approach to Kinsale, these guns would be a serious deterrent to any potential invading force.
The fort was besieged by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (a relative of Winston Churchill) in 1690 during the Williamite War. Repairs were made following the siege, and the fort remained in use as a British Army barracks for several hundred years afterwards. It had its own hospital block as well as a parade ground. A very helpful guide from the Office of Public Works gave a very interesting presentation on the history of the site.
An early lighthouse was established here in the 17th century. British forces left the fort following the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, but it fell out of use after being burned by the retreating anti-Treaty forces during the Irish Civil War in 1922. The complex was declared a National Monument in 1971 and has been partly restored by the heritage service, Dúchas.