Coolbawn Castle

On November 25th we made the short journey with our residency artists to Coolbawn Castle, located two miles from the Cow House. Built in the mid 1800’s by Francis Bruen, Coolbawn Castle has a gorgeous view of the Blackstairs Mountains. The building is constructed of fine cut stone, and is elaborately ornamented with pinnacles and spires. So much money was spent on its erection that it was locally known as “Bruen’s Folly”. Bruen was disliked by the locals and when close-by Tomanine bridge was constructed, a discreet stone carving of Breun’s face was placed in the bridge, and its nose was then knocked off. Like many stately homes around Ireland, Coolbawn was burned by the IRA in 1923 during the Civil War. Currently owned by the Tector family, the castle ruin looked magnificent in the crisp winter sunshine, despite its violent end. The interior is now green with ivy, but it is not difficult to imagine its former grandeur. A favorite feature was a tree growing on the remains of the granite cantilever staircase some fifteen feet from the ground.

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