Courtmacsherry Hotel is an exquisite 3 Star Victorian mansion,ideal for romantic weekend
breaks away in beautiful West Cork The hotel has a total of 10 rooms available. The rooms have been designed to add to the Victorian theme that is evident throughout every part of this unique hotel.
All of these rooms are ensuite with all of the basic commodities. All of the front rooms have a panoramic view of Courtmacsherry Bay, which is literally a stones throw away.

EARLY DAYS

Around the time of the Norman invasion the major townships in the area were those now known as Timoleague, Lislee, Barryroe and Dunworly. Among the Norman settlers were the De Barrys and the Hodnetts; the former built a castle at Timoleague, and the latter settled in Lislee. The Barrys flourished and gave their name to Barryroe, Rathbarry, etc., whereas the Hodnetts “degenerated into mere Irish”, one branch changing their name to MacSeafraidh (son of Geoffrey), subsequently anglicised to MacSherry or McSharry. Although Barrys and Hodnetts still live in the district, there are no McSherrys. One, Patrick MacSeafraidh from Co. Antrim, a descendent of a Courtmacsherry Hodnett, emigrated to America in 1745 and founded McSherrytown in Adams County, Pennsylvania. A MacSherry, a direct descendent of this Patrick, visited us a few years ago. Several other Macsherrys from America have also visited.

17TH AND EARLY 18TH CENTURIES

The most significant period in the history of the district was that of the Confederate War of 1641 to 1652. The Hodnetts were firmly on the Irish-Royalist side against Cromwell, and at the end of the war, Edmund Hodnett, and his sons James and Richard, were dispossessed and their lands bestowed on Capt. Robert Gookin, one of Cromwell’s spies. Gookin, on the restoration of Charles II in 1660, fearing that he would be deprived of his lands, sold them to Lord Broghill, second son of the infamous Earl of Cork (see later). Although Broghill had also been on the Parliamentary side during the war, he “changed with the wind” and had become an ardent supporter of Charles II. Broghill then gave Gookin a 100 years lease of the property – virtually all the land between Abbymahon and Wood Point. 

Five generations of Gookins – all Robert – were resident during the 100 years of the lease. A house was built in the early part of the 18th century – “This seat was under a hill, planted with trees that shelter it from the sea winds” (Smith’s History of Cork, 1750). This house was probably in the bottom corner of the grounds of the present hotel. The Gookins made little impression on life in the district, and disappeared when the lease ran out in 1760. One daughter married a Lamb of Kilcoleman, near Enniskeane, whose descendents still live there, and another married a Bernard, later the Earls of Bandon (the last Lord Bandon died a few years ago, but his widow and daughter still live in the grounds of Castle Bernard near Bandon). A Mr & Mrs Gookin from America visited us a few years ago. 

During this time, there was a flourishing pilchard fishing industry, and palaces were erected to extract oil, which was sold to Mediterranean countries. Flax was grown, looms were set up in Timoleague Castle, and houses were built in near-by Abbey Street by Lord Barrymore to house the weavers. Smuggling of spirits from France was rife, and many families made their fortunes, including the Deasy’s of Abbeymahon, and subsequently of Clonakilty. Another important family in the district were the Travers, who were granted lands between Abbeymahon and Timoleague in the 1580’s. The first Traver’s married Martha, sister of the poet, Edmund Spenser (“The Fairie Queen”), and their descendants still own the Castle Gardens in Timoleague.

“This seat was under a hill, planted with
trees that shelter it from the sea winds”

Smith’s History of Cork, 1750

THE ADVENT OF
THE BOYLES

The lease granted to the Gookins by Lord Broghill expired in 1760, and the lands reverted to his descendant, Henry Boyle, 2nd Earl of Shannon. At this point, it is worthwhile to digress somewhat to trace the history of the Boyle family, who had such an influence, not only in southern Ireland, but in England also.

Richard Boyle came to Ireland in 1588 at the age of 22 with only £28 in his pocket, but by 1602 he had settled in Youghal in “Myrtle Lodge” which he had acquired from Sir Walter Raleigh. He amassed vast areas in Co Waterford and Co Cork, including Lismore Castle (also from Raleigh), and became Lord Boyle, Baron of Youghal, in 1616 (he paid £340 for the title), and then in 1620 the 1st Earl of Cork. He founded or re-built the frontier towns of Bandon (Bandon Bridge), Clonakilty, Enniskeane and Castletown “to hold the settled country secure against the raids of the wild tribes of West Carberry and Kerry”. He installed his elder brother, Dr. John Boyle, as Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross in 1618, and his cousin as Bishop of Waterford and Lismore.

His first wife died early, but he had 15 children by his second wife, 7 sons (two died in childhood) and 8 daughters, all but one of whom (she died in childhood) married nobility. In 1620 (23 years before his death) he erected a tomb in Youghal Church Of Ireland church (still intact) showing himself, his two wives, his mother-in-law, and his children. There is a later tomb in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

His eldest son, Richard, succeeded him and was also granted an English Earldom, the 1st Earl of Burlington. He married Lady Elizabeth Clifford, only child of the 5th Earl of Cumberland, and so added lands in the north of England, including the Bolton Abbey Estates in Yorkshire, to his vast holdings in Ireland. Their grandson, 4th Earl of Cork and 3rd Earl of Burlington, was a renowned architect, who designed and built himself Chiswick House in London. Their only child Charlotte Boyle, married in 1748 the Marquess of Hartington, later 4th Duke of Devenshire, and so all the Boyle lands passed to the Cavendish family of Chatsworth in Derbyshire. Succeeding Dukes continued to own the whole of Bandon and to make many improvements to the town – in 1800 it was the 8th town in Ireland with a population of 14,000. The 8th Duke sold all the estates (except two small parts belonging to the Earls of Shannon and Lord Bandon) in 1891 to Sir John Arnott for £200,000.

The second son, Roger, was created Lord Broghill (subsequently 1st Earl of Orrery), who, as mentioned earlier, had acquired Courtmacsherry from Gookin. The 3rd son became Viscount Kinelmeaky and was killed in battle in 1642, and the fourth son was created 1st Earl of Shannon, but died without issue. The youngest son, Robert, became Professor of Physics at Cambridge and propounded Boyle’s Law. The title Earl Of Shannon, which had lapsed in 1660, was resurrected in 1756 when it was bestowed on Henry Boyle of Castlemartyr, the second son of the then Earl of Orrery, and it was he who acquired the lands in Courtmacsherry on the expiry of Gookin’s lease.

“Their grandson, 4th Earl of Cork and 3rd Earl of Burlington, was a renowned architect, who designed and built himself Chiswick House in London”

COURTMACSHERRY
UNDER THE BOYLES

We are indebted to the Rev. Horatio Townsend (one of the family of Castletownsend) for much information on Henry Boyle and Courtmacsherry. Townsend was commissioned by the Dublin Society to write a “Statistical Survey of the County of Cork with observations on the Means of Improvement”, which was published in 1810 and dedicated to the Earl of Shannon. Townsend says “The best grown plantation (in Co. Cork) is that of Courtmacsherry, made by the late Lord Shannon. In the year 1786, I obtained the living of Cloghnikilty, through the recommendation of the late Earl of Shannon.

Among other favours, the benefice being destitute of any suitable residence, his Lordship was pleased to accommodate me with his villa at Courtmacsherry, consisting of a house and upwards of a hundred acres, including woods. The gift was still further enhanced by the uncommon beauty of the situation, on which the taste and judgement of its noble proprietor had conferred additional graces. Near the point of the peninsula his Lordship had erected a handsome octagonal building – in this delightful retreat I passed many happy years”.

Some time later, but before the 1842 ordnance survey, the Octagon was abandoned and the 3rd Earl had built a new villa on the estuary known as Courtmacsherry House (now the hotel). The ruins of the Octagon may still be seen in the fields above Wood Point. The new estate started at the lodge and extended to Wood Point; the house opposite the lodge was the School House, for the children of the workers on the estate. The many trees in the grounds, including the cork tree, were probably planted at this time. Many of the houses in the village date from this period, including Hamilton Row and Terrace. These were let in the summer, making Courtmacsherry one of the most fashionable bathing places on the south coast. This was a time of great prosperity; corn was extensively, mills were set up, and a granary was built. Corn, flour and potatoes were shipped to Cork and Dublin, coal was landed from South Wales (7000 tons in 1840), and there was a large fishing fleet. But this prosperity was not to last long – the famine changed everything.

THE FAMINE AND
POST-FAMINE PERIOD

The disastrous famine in the winters 1845 through 1847 led to great reduction in the population of the area (about 40%), and then to government sponsored relief work. Many of the roads were constructed at that time, piers were built, including Tanner’s pier outside the lodge (now derelict), and also the store next to the School House (now self-catering flats). As things improved, boat building was restarted by Jasper Travers and Noble Ruddock (whose grandson still lived in the village up to his death a few years ago).

At this time, Courtmacsherry House was occupied by three sisters of the 4th Earl; Lady Jane (1812-1876), Lady Elizabeth (1816-1886) and Lady Charlotte (1817-1894). Their tombstone is in Lislee churchyard, and there is a memorial tablet to them in the porch of the Church Of Ireland church, which had been built by the Earl about 1850 to replace Lislee Church.

“At this time, Courtmacsherry House was occupied by three sisters of the
4th Earl; Lady Jane (1812-1876), Lady Elizabeth (1816-1886)
and Lady Charlotte (1817-1894)”

THE 20TH
CENTURY

In May, 1897, the 7th Earl, Richard Henry Boyle, leased Courtmacsherry House and lands (about 10 acres) to James Brennan of Bandon for a period of 25 years at a rent of £60 per year, provided “the Manision House and premises are used as a private residence or as a hotel and for no other purpose”. During the troubles the house, like many other large houses in the district, was partially burnt down, losing its pitched roof.

In April 1923, the lease was converted to a sale by the 8th Earl, Robert Henry, for the sum of £1250. The house was rebuilt and continued as a hotel.

When we stripped and re-cemented the front a few years ago, we found proof of the rebuilding in the form of a 1924 newspaper stuffed over one of the lounge windows. Of interest, the windows of the dining room and bedrooms above are outlined in yellow clay bricks, whereas those of the lounge and bedrooms above that have red bricks, indicating that the two halves of the house had been built at slightly different times, the semicircular end being the older.

Returning somewhat, business in Courtmacsherry had received a boost with the opening of the Timoleague and Courtmacsherry Light Railway in 1891. The line from Timoleague ran along the estuary between the road and the sea, terminating at the pier. The old station is now Lobster Cottage (opposite the paper shop), and the engine sheds are still there further along the village towards Timoleague. The line not only carried freight, but until the mid-1950’s when it closed, brought 600 people from Cork and Bandon on Sunday afternoons (fare return from Cork at the time was 1Shilling & 6pennies). A description of such an excursion in 1902 is given as an appendix.

“The old station is now Lobster Cottage (opposite the paper shop), and the engine sheds are still there further along the village towards Timoleague”

The hotel underwent a big change in 1968 when it was acquired by Mr and Mrs Gaio. They made many improvements and changed the name back from “Esplanade” to Courtmacsherry Hotel. Since acquiring it in 1974, we have made many further improvements, adding extra private bathrooms, installing TV and bedroom telephones, as well as erecting 8 self-catering cottages nearby. A new more recent development is the re-designing of the ‘Residents Lounge’ which is now known as the ‘Front Bar’, giving a great view of the estuary. Also the ‘Paddock bar’ as it was known has now been removed and to compensate this we have re-designed the ‘Old Bar’ to accommodate functions etc.

Around the time of the Norman invasion the major townships in the area were those now known as Timoleague, Lislee, Barryroe and Dunworly. Among the Norman settlers were the De Barrys and the Hodnetts; the former built a castle at Timoleague, and the latter settled in Lislee. The Barrys flourished and gave their name to Barryroe, Rathbarry, etc., whereas the Hodnetts “degenerated into mere Irish”, one branch changing their name to MacSeafraidh (son of Geoffrey), subsequently anglicised to MacSherry or McSharry. Although Barrys and Hodnetts still live in the district, there are no McSherrys. One, Patrick MacSeafraidh from Co. Antrim, a descendent of a Courtmacsherry Hodnett, emigrated to America in 1745 and founded McSherrytown in Adams County, Pennsylvania. A MacSherry, a direct descendent of this Patrick, visited us a few years ago. Several other Macsherrys from America have also visited.

Tel:

+353 23 8846198

email:

courtmacsherryhotel@gmail.com

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