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Cul na Long, Gearhamines

Fortified house

This large fortified house known as Cul na Long (nook of the ships) is located in a sheltered spot half a mile from the estuary at the mouth of Four Mile Water. It was built sometime between 1601 and 1640 to by Teige na Muclach McCarthy to replace the old family castle at Rossmore. Teige 'of the pigs'  who is reputed to have lived until he was 97,  apparently kept a large herd of pigs on the land. The house was built in typical Irish Jacobean style, replacing the traditional tower houses and is comparable to Coppinger's Court near Rosscarbery and Reendesert near Ballilickey. It was two storeys high with a large hall on the first floor - you can still see the original huge fireplace and bread oven.  Machicolations are still visible on the side wall and on the SW wall are remains of gun loops. Some of the windows still retain wooden frames which were put in when the building converted to farm usage in the early 19C .

The family supported the Irish uprising of 1641, an attempted coup by the Catholic gentry against the English Administration of Ireland. For their part in this uprising and consequent war, the McCarthy's had their house and lands forfeited.  On the arrival of Cromwell, a Colonel Reade owned the house and after the Restoration in the 1660s Nathaniel Evanson moved here, eventually building the new Court next door, probably using some stone from the old house. The house was in derelict by 1845 and today it is a picturesque ivy clad ruin and despite attempts to get it protected, it is slowly being reclaimed by nature.

Gearhamines : gortha min, smooth woodland
On private land though the Sheep's Head Way south: Ahakista to Durrus passes very close by and good views can be had
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I have been lucky enough to visit this site twice and each time have had to hack my way through nettles and brambles to get a view of the structure. What an imposing building it must have been in its time - so different from the tower houses that came before, offering a much higher standard of comfort. The big fireplaces, bread ovens, airy windows speak of comfortable living, but the presence of fortifications (machicolations and gun loops) provide evidence of a turbulent past. The house nestles amidst pasture beside a small river. The name is perplexing for although it is certainly in a nook there is no way that boats could have navigated the small river. It has been suggested that the name referred to the original tower house at Rossmore and the name was wrongly transferred to the new building, which has also been called Four Mile Water in its time. Evidence abounds of its adaptation into farm building during the late 18C and 19C -  the remains of old farm buildings and gardens can still be seen.

Ravens, choughs and sparrowhawks have made their nests here.

Nearby site:

Rossmore Castle

Durrus School