Mallow Castle

Mallow Castle 1


The ruin of the castle that we see today dates from the 1580’s and is the fourth one on the same site. The first castle or fort would be most likely to have been a Mott and Bailey fort. In 1185 King John gave permission for a new castle to be built by Norman De Rupe or Roches, these had displaced the native Ó Keeffes from Mallow and driven them further to the west.

In 1282 the Desmond FitzGeralds built a new castle. Thomas Fitzmaurice, Baron of the Geraldines, exchanged Kerrylocknaun a district in County Connaught, for “the Manor Moyale, County Cork, worth 70 Marks”, which may have been a dower of Ellen, the wife of Henry De Rupe, or Roche the younger. The proximity to an important ford that crossed the Blackwater at Mallow somewhere close to today’s road bridge may have influenced the exchange.

Mallow Castle 2

For the next three hundred years, the Desmond’s held the seat of Mallow and kept upgrading the castle, but most of the Desmond castle is long gone. Only one section with windows and a batted return, which dates from Jacobean times remains. This can be seen between the castle ruins and the deer park.


Mallow Castle Deer


In the 1580’s or early 1590’s it was taken over by Sir John Norreys who had been appointed Lord President of Munster by the British Crown. The Norreys came from Rycote in Oxfordshire. Thomas Norreys’ daughter Elizabeth was the godchild of Queen Elizabeth who gave her a present of a number of white deer, the descendants of which can still be seen to day. While still a minor the young Elizabeth was married to Sir John Jephson. The Jephson family held the seat until 1984 when they sold it to Michael Mc Ginn of Washington D.C. 


Chronological Table

AD 1185

John the youngest son of King Henry ΙΙ of England, became King on the death of his brother, Richard 1st (the famous Crusader known as Richard the Lion-heart).

Tradition has it that the king would construct a castle but in most cases they would only upgrade the castle that was already there. This is most likely in the case of Mallow.

Mallow and the surrounding area was granted to the Le Fleming family. It later passed into the De Rupe (Roche) family by marriage.

AD 1282

The manor and manorial rights of Mallow came into the possession of the Desmonds from the Roches in exchange for property in Connaught.

AD 1584

Following the suppression of the Desmond Revolt in 1581, and the deaths of the 15th Earl and Sir John Desmond, Sir John Norreys (Norris) who was Lord President of Munster, made Mallow his headquarters.

AD 1586

Queen Elizabeth 1st granted the castle and manor of Mallow to the Vice-President of Munster Sir Thomas Norreys, the younger brother of Sir John. The Desmond castle was beyond repair. A new castle was constructed (the now ruined castle which we see today).

AD 1607

The only surviving child of Sir Thomas Norreys, Elizabeth, who was a Goddaughter of Queen Elizabeth, married Major John Jephson, of Froyle, Hampshire, Privy Councillor in Ireland, Knight of the Shire of Hampshire.

AD 1642

The castle withstood the siege of the 3rd Viscount Mountgarrett. 

AD 1645

Captured and badly damaged by Lord Castlehaven.

AD 1680

Jephsons move from the old castle to the new castle.

AD 1689

Burnt by order of King James 2nd and rendered uninhabitable, This was the beginning of the Williamite/Jacobite war.

AD 1829

The possibility of restoring the building was studied by experts and the idea finally abandoned.

AD 1928

The ruins were taken under the care of Commissioners of Public Works, now the Office Public Works (O.P.W.) for maintenance as a National Monument.

AD 1984

The Jephson family sold the castle and estate to the McGinn family of Washington D.C.