Abandoned ireland


Castle Bernard,


Documenting our Heritage

In 1788 Francis Bernard, who became the 1st Earl of Bandon demolished much of the old O'Mahony castle on the site, and built an 18th century castellated mansion in front of it and slightly to the east.

The old O'Mahony castle had been renamed Castle Bernard in 1715 by "Judge" Bernard. The new building was not strictly a castle, but rather an elegant castellated residence even though it continued to bear the name of a castle in the fashion of the time.

James Francis Bernard (nicknamed Bucksot Bandon), the 4th Earl of Bandon (1850-1924) was a British Deputy Lieutenant in Ireland and Representative Peer. Lord Bandon was a cousin of the Earl of Middleton, who was head of the southern Irish Unionists at the time of the Anglo-Irish War (1919-1921).

Castle Bernard became known as one of the most hospitable houses in Ireland and the house parties held by the fourth earl and his wife were legendary.

In an early morning raid on 21 June 1921 during the days of the Black & Tans, a party of IRA under Sean Hales called. They intended to kidnap Lord Bandon, but Buckshot Bandon and his staff had taken refuge in the cellars. Apparently disappointed in the first object of their call the IRA decided to burn the house.

Hales was heard to say- " well the bird has flown, so we'll burn the nest".

At that the Earl and his party appeared from the cellars, but it was too late, the fire had started.

Ironically the IRA carefully took out all the furniture and piled it on the lawn before setting the building on fire.

The Lady Bandon of that time had to sit and watch the flames for some hours, when the flames were at their height, she suddenly stood up in her nightgown and sang God save the King as loudly as possible, which disconcerted the incendiaries, but while they may not have stood to attention, they let her have her say and did nothing about it.

Lord Bandon was then kidnapped by the local IRA and held hostage for three weeks, being released on 12 July. The IRA threatened to have him executed if the British went ahead with executing IRA prisoners of war. During his captivity, Bandon coolly played cards with his captors, who treated him well. Tom Barry later stated he believed the kidnapping helped move the British towards the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and the cessation of hostilities.

The elderly Earl Bandon never recovered from the experience and died in 1924.

Some years later, when the last of the IRA burning party died, the late Lord Paddy Bandon was asked to go to the funeral, which he did - in full funeral regalia of top hat and morning coat.

Castle Bernard continued to be the home of the Earl and Countess of Bandon - they built a small house within the Castle boundary walls.

The Earl died in 1979, and as they had no son the title became extinct.

Lady Bandon died in 1999 aged 102.

Lady Jenifer who inherited the property still lives on the grounds of the castle today.