Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.
| | |

Visiting Blackrock Castle in Cork, Ireland

Blackrock Castle, Cork, Ireland

Just outside of Cork City Centre, Blackrock Castle sits on the banks of the River Lee. Once used to protect the city from pirates, Blackrock Castle now has its eye on the stars as a working observatory.

Blackrock Castle History

Blackrock Castle, Cork, Ireland

The Original Fort

In the late 16th century, the citizens of Cork appealed to Queen Elizabeth I to build a fortress to keep out pirates and other invaders.

Then, at the beginning of King James I’s reign, Lord-Deputy Mountjoy turned the fort into a proper castle. He intended the castle not only to protect Cork from Spanish invasion, but to also protect himself from rebellion from those who refused to recognize King James as the new monarch after Queen Elizabeth’s death.

The castle‘s round tower is a rare Irish example of a tower built to withstand cannon fire.

Fire and Fancy Gatherings

Blackrock Castle, Cork, Ireland

By the 1720s, the Council Book of Cork owned Blackrock Castle and used the castle for banquets and fancy gatherings. In 1722, the old four story tower caught fire. They rebuilt the tower and extended it to have an octagonal room and additional two-story gable buildings.

Mayors of Cork held Admiralty Court at the castle, along with banquets and ceremonies. They would also part in the custom of “throwing the dart,” where the Mayor would set out from the castle to throw an arrow from a boat at the mouth of the harbor, signifying the jurisdiction of the Mayor over the harbor.

The Observatory

In the 20th century, the castle changed ownership multiple times; it was mostly used as a meeting place and as corporate offices.

Cork Corporation purchased the castle in 2001 and turned it into Blackrock Castle Observatory. The observatory is used for astronomical research and as an interactive science exhibition center under the Cork Institute of Technology. The top of the round tower now holds a telescope enclosure.

Getting to Blackrock Castle

Blackrock Castle, Cork, Ireland

The castle is located 12 minutes from Cork City Centre. If you are driving yourself, there is a parking lot to the east of the castle.

If you are taking the bus, you’ll have to do a little walking. Departing from Merchants Quay (Riverside), take bus Number 202 toward Mahon. The bus stops at St Lukes Home, and from there it’s a 5 minute walk north along the river to get to the castle.

Visiting Blackrock Castle

Blackrock Castle, Cork, Ireland

The castle is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. — 5 p.m., with last admission at 4 p.m.

Admission costs €7 for adults and €5 for students and children under 16.

On your visit, you can tour the castle, explore the self-guided science exhibits, and play games in the interactive exhibits. The tour takes you through the castle’s history of smugglers and pirates, while the science exhibits take you through recent discoveries on Earth and in outer space. You can even catch a planetarium show.

Castle Count: 17

My trip to Blackrock Castle was part of one of my “two-castles-in-one-day” trip, and can easily be done in conjunction with a trip to Blarney Castle.

Ready to visit Blackrock Castle in Cork, Ireland? Plan your trip with these tips.

  • Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
  • Find accommodation: You can find top hotels in Cork using
  • Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.



Visiting Blackrock Castle in Cork, Ireland

Have you visited Blackrock Castle? Let me know about your trip in the comments!

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *