Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold in Blarney, near Cork, Ireland. Though earlier fortifications were built on the same spot, the current keep was built by the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty, a cadet branch of the Kings of Desmond, and dates from 1446.
The Blarney Stone is among the machicolations of the castle.
The castle originally dates from before 1200, when a timber house was believed to have been built on the site, although no evidence remains of this. Around 1210 this was replaced by a stone fortification.
It was destroyed in 1446 but subsequently rebuilt by Cormac Láidir MacCarthy, Lord of Muscry, who also built castles at Kilcrea and Carrignamuck.
The castle was besieged during the Irish Confederate Wars and was seized in 1646 by Parliamentarian forces under Lord Broghill. However, after the Restoration, the castle was restored to Donough MacCarty, who was made 1st Earl of Clancarty.
During the Williamite War in Ireland in the 1690s, the 4th Earl of Clancarty (also named Donough MacCarty) was captured, and his lands (including Blarney Castle) were confiscated by the Williamites.
The castle was sold and changed hands several times — Sir Richard Pyne, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, owned it briefly — before being purchased in the early 18th century by Sir James St John Jefferies, governor of Cork City.
Members of the Jefferies family built a mansion near the keep. This house was destroyed by fire, and in 1874 a replacement Scottish baronial-style mansion, known as Blarney House, was built overlooking the nearby lake.
In the mid 19th century, the Jefferies and Colthurst families were joined by marriage, and the Colthurst family still occupies the demesne.
In May 2008, the present estate owner, Sir Charles St John Colthurst, Baronet, succeeded in a court action to eject a man who had lived on his land for 44 years. The man’s great-grandfather had been the first to occupy the estate cottage.