Sam Maguire curated by Helen O Connell

Togher Castle

It is generally believed that Togher Castle, Dunmanway, Co. Cork  was built in 1560 by the Chieftain Tadgh an Fhorsa.
Togher castle is about 18 metres high and 12 metres in breath. The diamond shaped chimney tops and some windows intended as improvements do not harmonize with the solid massive style of the rest of the building. In the last century, Fr. John Lyons who hoped that a tradition for small local industry might be established roofed it with corrugated iron, however the basement was mostly used as a cow byre.

Tower houses like Togher usually had a bawn. A curtain wall enclosed this area of land. It is said that many fine trees and an orchard were tastefully planted on the land that lies between the castle and the river.

The original roof was of slate and the rafters as well as the joists, which supported the various floors, were of native oak.

Arrow loops were set in the walls so that the garrison could defend the tower house. A crosslit was an arrowloop, which had a horizontal slit on top. This made it easier to fire arrows at besiegers. The iron grill, an oak door and a murder hole probably protected the entrance. This was a hole in the low ceiling when you entered the castle, rocks etc could be thrown at enemies through this hole.

Corbels were stones that jut out from the walls. Floor beams rested on them. It is evident that Togher Castle had five floors. The guardroom and storeroom was usually on the 1 floor. Above that was the great hall where the family dined. Above were the living quarters and bedrooms.

The rooms would have had rushes on the floors, which would also have provided bedding in the summer (straw in winter). There was a bench and table and a fire in the centre of the room. In the top floor the chieftain would have received and entertained his guests. There is a spiral stairway in the tower house

Machicolations were also rested on the corbels. These were built onto the walls on the outside so that missiles could be thrown at attackers. The outside walls usually had a batter. This was a slope towards the bottom of the tower.

When defenders threw missiles from the top they bounced off this slope and hit the attackers. When cannon guns were invented the tower house was no longer a safe haven.