Last Updated: 10th Oct, 2019
RDesmond Castle, (French Prison) Cork Street, Kinsale, built as a custom house by the Earl of Desmond c. AD 1500. Desmond Castle has had a colourful history, ranging from Spanish occupation in 1601 to use as a prison for captured American sailors during the American War of Independence.
Known locally as 'The French Prison' after a tragic fire in which 54 prisoners, mainly French seamen, died in 1747. The castle was also used as a borough jail from 1791 to the onset of the Great Famine when it was used as an auxiliary workhouse tending to the starving populace.
Over the main entrance to the castle you may see the Geraldine arms, bees on a quartered shield, while high above is displayed a mirror image of the royal arms. The well constructed building, founded on rock, consists of a keep with storehouses to the rear. The former is a fine example of a town castle with domestic offices on the first and second floors. A variety of window forms, beneath the Irish stepped battlements, add interest to the main facade. Access to the site is by stone stairway.