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Curious Eye

Explore the pink castle in West Cork that’s home to an Academy Award winner and his family

For 25 years, Kilcoe Castle has been the extraordinary residence of Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack.

HAVING STARRED IN several period pieces, notably the 1981 television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, it’s safe to say that Academy Award-winning actor Jeremey Irons knows his way around a lavish estate. 

Kilcoe Castle, located in West Cork’s picturesque and popular getaway spot of Skibereen, was built approximately 500 years before Irons was born on the Isle of Wight. The stately infrastructure, now known for its once controversial pink terracotta wash on the limestone facade, was initially constructed by Dermod MacCarthy’s clan in the middle of the 15 century. It was one of the last sites of its stature to fall during the English invasion throughout the Elizabethan era in the Battle of Kinsale. 

The commanding structure which stands on Mannin Beg, a rugged island not too far from Ballydehob, features two towers. One is tall and narrow while the adjoined main tower is slightly shorter (at approximately 20 meters) but contains more square footage. Surrounding the 15th-century castle is a classically medieval-looking stone which lends some protection to the base of Kilcoe as well as much-needed privacy. 

kilcoecastlewestcorkirishlandmarkireland Shutterstock / mikemike10 Shutterstock / mikemike10 / mikemike10

The striking structure remained uninhabited for hundreds of years until Irons purchased it in 1998. Kilcoe Castle, however, would not be Irons’ inaugural dwelling in Ireland as he and his wife, the Irish actress Sinéad Cusack had been living in Teach Iasc, a quaint cottage located by the River Ilen not too far away from Roaring Water Bay which is overlooked by the castle. 

Intrigued by the ruins, which in 1998 would have been immensely weathered, Irons decided to purchase the property and delve into a restoration project. At that point, it had been a decade since he had performed on stage and he was starring in The Man in The Iron Mask alongside Leonardo Di Caprio and John Malkovich and would continue to be busy in front of the camera for the ensuing 2 decades.  

The restoration of Kilcoe Castle took 6 years and Irons was very hands-on throughout the process. 

kilcoecastlewestcorkirishlandmarkireland Shutterstock / mikemike10 Shutterstock / mikemike10 / mikemike10

Its extravagant interiors were compiled and curated by the actor and he has filled the 5-storey main tower with several extraordinary decorative items and furnishings from all over the world. Amongst the many highlights of this spectacular residence, which can sleep up to 13 guests, is perhaps its 2-storey living room.  

Today, the private residence is one of many attractions for visitors to seek out in Skibbereen.

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