“Nothing to equal Castlefreke, Owenaheencha Strand and the Corlan”

February 20, 2021
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By Con O’Neill, Director, Sherry FitzGerald O’Neill

Written in 1915, by an unknown author, what is striking about this piece is that it could so easily be written today. Indeed, I’ve attended many a meeting of the Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce where this very subject has been raised. The greater Castlefreke, Rathbarry and Ardfield area has always slipped under the radar but maybe that’s the secret. It’s off the beaten track, away from the bus loads of tourists which travel the west coast. Then, as now, West Cork attracts the independent traveler, those looking to explore and discover places off the beaten track.

Southern Star, 9 October 1915, author unknown.

At the Clonakilty Urban Council on Tuesday evening, reference was made to the many beauty spots around the town. Inchydoney Island has been celebrated in song and story. But the grandeur of Inchydoney and the classic associations of the Virgin Mary’s Bank fade into insignificance by the sight of the majestic panorama that opens to the view a little farther west.

It has often struck us as extraordinary that while places with no real pretentions to beauty as compared to Castlefreke have been boomed to the skies, the scenery and attractions of this place are so little known that one fails to find any reference to them even in guide books for Irish tourists. Well might it be said of this most beautiful of beauty spots.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene the dark unfathomed waves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Excepting Killarney, we have seen nothing to equal Castlefreke, Owenaheencha Strand and the Corlan. The poet has gone into raptures over Adare, with its swampy and almost stagnant river, and its bucolic bracken. But anyone who has been to both places, will readily say that all the advantages are on the side of Castlefreke. Anyone who has travelled much around Ireland must be struck by the way in which mediocre places have been boomed and lauded to the skies, while much superior resorts are never mentioned. A great poet comes along, and is entertained by some wealthy resident. He writes a few pleasant verses, and the reputation of a place is established. One thing in which the district around Clonakilty is rich in, is its historic associations. All around it are still extant the rains [sic] of some fine old castles, some of them going back to a period before the birth of Christianity. The slander on our ancestors that they knew nothing about stone buildings till after the advent of the Normans is now rejected by all antiquarians. The old burial place of Rathbarry or Rath-a-Bharrig, is within the demesne enclosure. This is the last resting place of many of the clans of West Cork, where, after life’s fitful fever, they sleep within sound view of Cliona’s Rock. Here were recently buried some of the Lusitania victims.

Source: Southern Star, 9 October 1915.  

About the author

Con is the 4th generation of the family in the business. He graduated with a BBS, Accounting and Finance, degree from the University of Limerick in 2010 before going on to complete an MSc Computation Finance the following year. He spent 5 years working with Irish Fin-Tech firm First Derivatives which included stints in Moscow, Dubai, Stockholm and Dublin. In 2014, First Derivatives nominated Con for the GradIreland Graduate Employee of the Year award where he reached the final 6. While working in First Derivatives, Con studied an MSc Real Estate from the University College of Estate Management in Reading which he graduated from in 2017. He joined the team at Sherry FitzGerald O’Neill in January 2018 and hasn’t looked back since. Con works in all aspects of the business from residential/commercial lettings and sales, to marketing and social media. His main interests include all sport but especially rugby. He is obsessed with local history and his rescue dog Bingo who features regularly on the company’s social media accounts.