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Ross Castle is located in Killarney National Park on the edge of Lough Leane in County Kerry. It was built in the early 15th Century by the Clan O’Donoghues Mor (Ross) and is a fine example of an Irish Chieftain stronghold. It is surrounded by a defensive wall with flanking towers, two of which still remain intact today. More recently Ross Castle is known for its association with the Brownes of Killarney who retained it until it became a Military Barracks up to the 19th century.
The Castle was one of the last castles in Ireland and the last in Munster to surrender to the Cromwell Army during the Irish Confederate Wars. Cromwell’s army headed by General Ludlow could not breach its walls, it was only when they attached by the lake side, bringing artillery by boat that they were successful in taking it in 1652. By the end of the war the Brownes were successful in taking back the lands until they were later exiled due to their loyalty to James II of England.
There is a myth that O’Donoghue jumped from the window of the great hall at the top of the castle and vanished into the waters never to be seen again. It is said that O’Donoghue lives by the great Castle in the lake, from where he keeps a close eye. Today the castle is furnished with 16th & 17th century furniture. There is a large rock at the entrance to the bay and this is known as O’Donoghues Prison. The castle is open to the public by guided tour only and is an experience not to be missed.
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