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Perhaps it was the fact that those who were forced to build this castle did so to death, and their blood used to help make the mortar stick better to the stone? Maybe it was the fresh, breath freezing chill that was in the air? Maybe it was the sound of a thousand crows blocking out the sky as they were suddenly spooked?

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Whatever it was, the darker side of ‘Kanturk Castle’ in Co.Cork, Ireland introduced itself to me in spectacular fashion on this first day of winter.

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Built in the 17th Century for ‘The Lord of Dunhollow’ in honour of the most powerful clan to resist Norman expansion into the South West of Ireland. (Explore ‘The Battle of Callann’ in 1261 as a historical starting point on this castle).

For me today it was all about exploring the ruins of this vast, fortified Tower-house set in the town of Kanturk. A small town located precisely in the middle of nowhere and somewhere you never heard of.

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On a day when the frost had not quite left the crispy, orange and yellow leaves on the ground, I took advantage of what little brightness there was in the still December air. I loved the opportunity to explore the stone fortress and couldn’t help but imagine how it must have been to live and work in such a place in such a time.

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On entering the middle of the building I stood counting the fire places that seemed to crawl up the walls signifying where grand rooms once stood. Picturing the armed guards assessing visitors through the shooting slots strategically placed around the entrances, it was easy to get lost on one’s own imagination.

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To the front of the mansion stand great trees in formation. Huge walls once surrounded this place of sanctuary, keeping the riff-raff out as well as those invaders from foreign lands.

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Of course it’s worth mentioning the English loan sharks who financed the building of the castle. After all, any Irish lord with money was really just a lodger to an English landlord.But that too would change with time.

I found this place purely by chance, the sat-nav decided that it was lost so I just kept going south.

For anyone thinking of going off the beaten track in Cork…don’t worry about getting lost. You will get lost…so don’t worry about it!

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