Charles Fort is a star fort located on the rocky shoreline, at the southern end of the village of Summer Cove overlooking Kinsale harbour. The present light was only established here in 1929, but the site has had a lighthouse as far back the 17th Century.
At that time, it was known as Barry Óg’s or Ringcurran castle and in 1665, King Charles II granted letters patent to Sir Robert Reading to construct six lighthouses along the Irish coast. The locations of these lighthouses were at Howth Head, the Howth bar, Hook Head, the Old Head of Kinsale, Charles Fort and the Isle of Magee near Carlingford, County Louth. These were of the cottage style with lighted braziers on their roofs. The king got his lighthouses and the fort was rebuilt and was named in his honour. The architect of the fort was William Robertson, who also designed the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham. Star forts became popular with the arrival of gunpowder, when it was realised that the old town and city fortifications of the past were vulnerable to cannon fire. The design of the fort is normally a pentagon or hexagon with bastions at the corners of the walls. These outcroppings enable a total, panoramic view of the battlefield. Because of the bastions, archers and cannon operators can hit any target on the battlefield without having to lean over the wall and expose themselves.
The fort was partially damaged during the Williamite War, when was besieged by John Churchill, but was repaired and continued to be used as a British military barracks until the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921. In 1922, during the Irish Civil War, the Fort was burned by the retreating anti-Treaty forces and in 1973 it was declared a National Monument and partly restored.
The lighthouse was one of the last to be converted to electricity and in 2004 it was automated and its range increased to over 16 kilometres.
Location: 51 41.7498 North, 8 29.9828 West.
Character: Fl, 5s flash 1s, eclipse 4s,
Range: W: 17 km, R: 13 km, G: 11 km.
Driving through Kinsale and on out the coastal road to the east of the harbour takes you to Charles Fort, a star fort situated at Summer Cove and built during the reign of Charles II. It was intended to defend the town and harbour but saw little real action. The lighthouse looks a little like the cabin of a vast stone ship. I like it a lot!
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