1815 – Coltsmann’s Castle, Glenflesk, Co. Kerry



Flesk Castle, also known as Coltsmann’s Castle or Glenflesk Castle, was a gothic Georgian style country house, built 1809-1815 for John Coltsmann. The house was in use through the 1940s but was dismantled c. 1950 leaving the shell standing. Currently under restoration.

From: J.P. Neale, Views of the seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, Second Series, vol.I, London, 1824
“This edifice crowns the summit of a beautiful sloping hill, about a mile and a half from Killarney, within a short distance of the mail coach road from Cork, and may be said to command the most magnificent, as well as the most varied prospect of any seat in the United Kingdom . The west front presents an extensive view of the northern, or Lower Killarney Lakes, studded with numerous Islands, and overshadowed by a lofty chain of mountains, which rising abruptly from the water, display in their majestic groupings, sublime outlines of Alpine scenery. Forests of natural Oak and Arbutus, clothe their sides , and by the rich verdure of their foliage, form a fine contrast with the wild and rugged character of the higher regions. Every change of season, in deed every change of weather, produces some new tint in the magic colouring of these mountains. Mangerton Mountain , which has been ascertained to rise 2,800 feet above the level of the sea, forms a bold back ground to the Castle, from which it is distant about two miles. Its elevation is however inferior to that of Gherann – tuel, the conical peak of which rises 3,600 feet above the sea.

The north , or entrance front, embraces a view of Killarney, containing a population of about ten thousand inhabitants. It then ranges over an extensive tract of forest scenery, in the midst of which is seen the Park, the beautiful seat of D. Cronin, Esq. The River Flesk, from which the Castle derives its name, takes its rise in the mountainous district of Glen- Flesk, and waters the demesne, at one time pursuing its calm and winding course under the shade of impending woods, at another rushing in an impetuous and foaming torrent, over the rocks that impede its progress , towards the Lake, into which it at length empties itself.

The Castle occupies the site of two ancient forts, of which one was of Danish origin , while the other, which stood further to the west, is refer able to the æra of Cromwellian invasion. The only traces now existing of the latter, consist of the ditch that defended the western ramparts. . The present building is of recent erection, and considerable attention has been paid to exterior effect, while the interior combines all the accom modation which the refinements of modern life demand. The greater part of the hewn stone employed in its construction , was brought from a distance of two miles. The Hall is entered by a pointed door-way, over which is a large mullioned window ; two other windows of the same description also light it laterally. It is thirty feet long by twenty -five broad, and thirty feet high.

The ceiling is groined , and a gallery runs round three sides of it, which serves to communicate with different chambers on the first floor. On passing through the hall, an anti- room conducts to the octagon Saloon , beyond which are the small and great Drawing-rooms, and finally the Dining Parlour. These five rooms all communicate “ en suite, ” and their decorations and ornaments are strictly in unison with the general character of the building. The Library and Study occupy the north wing. From the windows of all these apartments a most diversified and enchanting prospect presents itself ; some of the most remarkable features in it are Fox Mountain, and its cascade, the former conspicuous by the fantastic elegance of its form , and the rich luxuriance of its vast woods ; the peninsula of Morcruss Abbey, with its various creeks and inlets ; the ruins of Ross Castle, celebrated by the defence it made against the republican forces of Ludlow, and finally, the windings of the Flesk, and its bridge of twenty -three arches.

The carriage -approach winds in a gradual ascent round the hill, sheltered and concealed by extensive woods of oak , beech, and larch , which clothe its declivities on all sides. To the west and north of the Castle, the grounds slope down to these woods, while to the east they stretch out into extensive lawns, interspersed with clumps of plantations, and scattered trees. The western or Lake front opens on a spacious terrace, the walls of which are embattled . It is flanked in its north west angle by a Tower in ruins, and a dry ditch defends it in front.

This façade is terminated on the south by the great Octagon Tower; by the side of this building, and joined to it, rises a smaller Tower of the same shape ; between these and the main building, and somewhat in the rear, is seen the White Tower, which is of rectangular form ; the battlements are in the style of the ancient Irish Castles.

The chief feature of the entrance front is the Round Tower, which rises to the height of seventy -five feet. It contains a spiral staircase , twelve feet in width, by which an easy access is obtained to the different floors and roofs of the building. The latter being flat, and covered with lead , offer a great facility for the enjoyment of the views in every direction.