Charles Fort

Famous Castle on the Coast of Ireland

Charles Fort is a castle in the town of Kinsale in southwestern Ireland. It is a pentagonal fortress on the edge of the coast. And it is still in good condition. You can visit and learn about its turbulent history. These are the sights of Charles Fort, which is sometimes also referred to as Charles Castle.

The imposing Charles Fort was completed in 1682. It is sometimes referred to as the 'New Fort' in the history books. The reason is the nearby James' Fort. Which was built before 1607 on the other side of Kinsale harbour. James' Fort is called the 'old fortress'. Nowadays, Charles Fort is a museum operated by Heritage Ireland.


Roaming around Charles Fort. ©Corno van den Berg

The new fort is named after Charles II, who was King of Scotland between 1649 and 1651. The fort was designed by Surveyor General Sir William Robinson, who was also the architect of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

Charles Fort is an example of a bastioned pentagonal fort. The five bastions are called Kinsale (also known as the Devil's), Charles, Cockpit, Flagstaff and North. The Kinsale and Charles are by the sea, which is why they are noticeably larger than the other three. It was expected that the fort would be attacked from the sea.

Dutch Connection

But it was finally conquered from land in 1690. It happened during the Williamite War (1688–1691) in Ireland. This was a conflict between the Jacobite supporters of King James II of England and supporters of Prince William of Orange. The latter won the battle.

Roaming around the Fort

The cemetary next to Charles Fort. ©Corno van den Berg

On the left side of the fortress you will see a small trail. This hiking route, called Charles Fort Walk, takes you past the small cemetery, with several graves. After a few hundred meters you reach the coast. Where you have a good view of how the fortress was protected by the high walls. You can walk further along the sea to a small marina. I thought it was a lovely walk.

The Location of Charles Fort

The remains of the fortress. ©Corno van den Berg

Charles Fort Castle is located 28 kilometres south of Cork city. It is easy to reach by car. It is often visited by travellers touring the south of Ireland. On their route along the extreme western tip, Mizen Head, the unique fortress Dunlough Castle and the gorge Nohoval Cove.

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