One such place with an evil and sordid past is Old Strancally Castle ( OSI x,y 610254,586124) which lies on the western bank accross from Eagles Rock which would be roughly half way between Ballinaclash and Coolbagh piers. The castle nows sits a crumbling ruin with a cloak of green ivy which makes it almost invisible if you are not looking closely and it`s many a powerboater or jet skier has often passed it and have never seen it.
The history of the castle is hard to pin down because there seems to be some variance in the details of who originally built it but as far as I can tell from talking to various sources and reading from different historical articles it seems to have been built by Raymond Le Gros of Molana Abbey fame (Raymond Le Gros). One thing that all experts are in agreement over is the story that the Spanish owners round about the 1580`s were anxious to get their hands on the deeds to as much local land as possible and would invite local landowners to supper. When dinner was over they would be directed to their room where a secret trapdoor would swing loose sending the unfortunate victim to his watery grave in the river below. Eventually somebody escaped and lived to tell the tale. When news of this reached Youghal a force of soldiers was sent to route the Spaniards and the castle was burnt. The story of this murdering hole has gone into legend along with all the characters involved. There is a forty foot hole of water just out off the castle and a few times over the years while out paddling my canoe by a full moon I have often wondered about the tortured ghosts and souls who might still be thereabouts.
The above picture shows one of the cut stone corbels which would have held up one of the floors of the castle.
Inside in the castle itself is a little disappointing as the years are taking their toll on the building. It is now a crumbling ruin and it is quite difficult to imagine what a fine fortress it must have been as it sat guarding a narrow pass on the river. I have sat in the ruins a couple of evenings as the sun has gone down. It is now a very peacefull place just to sit and watch the pigeons and ravens coming in to roost while the bats leave their resting areas in the cool castle walls. With just a small fire to brew a cup of tea or a hot whiskey it`s good to pass the time and listen for old ghosts.
Tea in the castle.
The little video clip below will give an idea of how ruinous a state the castle is now in.