Three Castle Head

In County Cork, nestled just above Mizen Head, Ireland’s most Southwesterly point, lies the ruins of Dunlough Castle or ‘Three Castle Head’. Dunlough Castle or Dun a Locha, which means the fort of the lake, was built by Donagh na Aimrice O’Mahoney in 1207. In its glory days the castle sat proudly as three towers, two of which were approximately three storeys high and the third, and largest, the dungeon, roughly 15 metres high. A 20-foot high wall connected the towers all the way from the cliff edge to the lake creating an enviable defensive vantage point. In fact, there is no evidence the castle was ever attacked by any Irish Chieftains or the Normans who invaded Ireland just before the castle was erected.

Today in ruin, it is still a sight to behold and a place worth visiting when in west Cork. A short walk from the charming on-site cafe which is open during the summer months, you will turn a corner to breathtaking views. It is akin to something recognisable from modern-day fantasy, like being dropped into a setpiece for Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. But it is, in fact, places like this that have inspired so many writers to bring their fantastical worlds to life.


Throughout the year, we host artists and students from all corners of the globe. Despite Ireland’s small size, it possesses stunning landscapes and rich, complex histories. With an abundance of spectacular natural and historical sites, there is no shortage of places for tourists to visit, however, we’re always on the lookout for places off the beaten track. We love visiting this site with our summer program and gap year students. We’ve recommended that many of our residency artists visit during their travels as well. When we first visited it wasn’t easy to find and almost got the bus stuck on the narrow roads but now it’s a bit easier with the location pinned on Google Maps.

After several years visiting, the kind people that own the land have opened a cafe, a great place to stop either before or after your hike. Following an initial exchange booking in one of our large groups, Co-Director Rosie O’Gorman recognised the unusual surname Ungerer. Indeed, Tomi Ungerer, the artist and author of many books made this spectacular place his final home. Sadly, Mr Ungerer passed away this past February. His works have always toyed with expectation and misunderstood protagonists. It’s easy to see how a brilliant mind like his would be drawn to a place like this, quiet and expansive, far out, but not far enough.


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