The small castles that dot the Irish landscape are more properly known as Tower Houses. These are almost exclusively an Irish creation, dating from eras of sustained turbulence, local warfare, and violence. Most were built between the early Norman era., c1250 and Early Elizabethan times, c1550. It is estimated that approximately 3000 existed at one time.
Most of the principal Septs and Hiberno-Norman land holding families built and maintained a strongold, and this castle was almost always in the form of a tower house. In rural areas, the Castle of a landowner was in fact a fortified farmhouse, surrounded by a masonry wall or “bawn” within which he could shelter cattle, horses, sheep, or his tenants, if under attack.
The Barony of Corcaguiney (Corca Dhubhuine) comprises most of the Dingle Peninsula, and was a part of Desmond, the Liberty granted the Earl Of Desmond (FitzGerald) in the early 1300s. There were perhaps 8 – 10 tower houses there, several of which still stand, albeit in ruins. Ferriter’s Castle is one of these.
Gallerus and Rahinane Two Castles closest to Ferriter’s Castle, (Castle Sybil) were both FitzGerald strongholds. Gallerus was built by a lesser son of one of the Knights of Kerry, and stands about 2 linear miles East of Dun Point. Rahinane was built by an early Knight of Kerry and is also perhaps 2 miles from Dun Point, in a straight line. This place was the principal home of the knight of Kerry for 300 years.
Ferriter’s Fort, Ferriter’s Castle, or Castle Sybil as it is variously called is of uncertain age. A safe assumption may be to date it coeval with the balance of other tower houses, and with Rahinane, which would place the structure c. 1350 -1400. Ferriters had othe strongholds and forts, most notably on Great Blasket, and by account near Dunurlin Church – possibly the family’s principal residence.
“ A tremendous western gale lately made sad havoc with the old fortalice, and it is now a heap of stones, and of mortar as firm and hard as stone. The people regret it very much, and declare that its fall portends some direful calamity to the neighbourhood."— Letters from the Kingdom of Kerry, in the year 1845 , pp. 55-6.
A non-Historical Reconstruction What Is, c2009 Fantasy, c2009
Caslain Feiritear in 1953 These photos were taken of a mass said at the Castle as part of the 300 th Anniversary Commemoration of Piaras Feiritear’s death. (Courtesy Siobhan (Ferriter) Fahy, Ballyferriter)
“ All of my life, I have carried the image of that fragmentary ruin in my memory, an icon of familial faith - faith in the reality of the stories that my father recounted, and faith in the kernel of greatness that always seemed nearby, somehow.”