Desmond Castle, located in the coastal town of Kinsale, is a magnificent example of a classic urban tower house, dating back to around 1500. The three-story keep, which is accompanied by storehouses to the rear, was initially built by Maurice Bacach Fitzgerald, the Earl of Desmond, to serve as the customs house for the town.
Throughout its long history, the castle has served a variety of purposes. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was primarily used as a prison, housing inmates from France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and even America. As a result of this, it earned the nickname of the French Prison, a name that has endured to this day.
The castle played a pivotal role during the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 when it was co-opted as an ordnance store. In the years that followed, the building was used as a workhouse during the devastating Great Famine.
In the early 1900s, the castle became a gathering place for local Gaelic League meetings, which were held there regularly. The castle's vibrant history continued into the twentieth century when a thriving undertaking business operated from within its walls in the 1930s.
Overall, Desmond Castle is a captivating monument that holds a significant place in Ireland's history. With its unique architecture and rich cultural heritage, it continues to attract visitors from all around the world.