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09.09.2023, 11:00 A.M.

Irish Georgian Society, Cork Chapter, Patron: Edmund Corrigan

2003 – 2023 Celebrating Twenty Years Presents St. Fachtna’s Cathedral, Rosscarbery & 'Making Magnificence' - The Restoration of Castle Freke, Owenahincha, Co. Cork

Saturday, 9th September 2023 @ 11.00am

  • 11.00am Meet at the hall beside St. Fachtna’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Rosscarbery Co. Cork for registration and refreshments.
  • 11.30am Tour of St. Fachtna’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Rosscarbery.
  • 1.00pm Light Lunch will be provided at the hall beside the cathedral.
  • 3.30pm Tour of Castle Freke Castle, Owenahincha courtesy of Stephen Evans Freke followed by reception

The Cathedral Church of St. Fachtna in Rosscarbery stands on a site where Christian worship has been offered for over 1400 years. St. Fachtna founded a monastic school in AD 590. Pilgrims and scholars came from near and far and gained for Ross the title “Ross Ailithir” – the wooded headland of the pilgrims. The first reference to a Cathedral on this site is in the 12th Century. The present building dates from 1612 and was extensively rebuilt following the Rebellion of 1641. Significant developments occurred within the building in the nineteenth century, including a new spire by Michael Shanahan. Both Sir Richard Morrison and James Pain worked on designs for the cathedral. In 1889-96, Arthur Hill thoroughly remodelled the chancel and transepts, he removed the galleries, put up a new roof over this part of the church and lowered the floors throughout. There are two notable monuments to the 6th Baron Carbery inside the cathedral.

Castle Freke is a seat of the Barons Carbery. The original seat was the old Rathbarry Castle that was damaged in various conflicts including the 1641 rebellion. During the 1780s, Sir John Freke, later 6th Baron Carbery, abandoned Rathbarry Castle and built the current house. It has a nine-bay entrance front with a projecting three-bay breakfront. The garden-front is of eight bays with a six-bay breakfront, with the windows in the end-bays being set in shallow arched recesses. While the architect is unknown it can be attributed to Michael Shanahan.

When it came to building the out-offices, Lord Carbery turned to Richard Morrison who prepared plans for castellated out-offices. Morrison also proposed cloaking the Classical house with a Gothic mantle, though this plan came to nothing. Later again, James & George R. Pain prepared plans for a Gothic remodelling of the house but like the former plans, also came to nothing. The house presented an uncompromising classical frontage.

Henry Hill eventually carried out the Gothic remodelling in a very unconvincing manner that hardly disguised the original classical house. An accidental fire in 1910 destroyed the house completely and it was rebuilt by Kaye-Parry & Ross with innovative reinforced concrete floors and steel window frames. It was ready for occupation by 1913, when a ball was given here for the coming-of-age for the 10th Lord Carbery. The castle was sold by the 10th Lord Carbery and the contents were auctioned in 1922. It stood empty for some years and was eventually dismantled in 1952 to become a very popular local landmark and a favourite playground for those staying in Owenahincha during the school summer holidays.

Eventually, Stephen Evans-Freke purchased the ruins of the castle and has been carrying out conservation works ever since. One of the most remarkable features of this restoration has been the creation of a suite of high relief stucco ceilings, emulating the work of eighteenth century stuccodores and worthy of the La Franchini, and the creation of a long gallery with a ‘Strawberry Hill’ Gothic style ceiling.

Lunch: a light lunch will be served in the hall next to the cathedral.

Tickets cost €50 (members), €60 (non-members) including lunch and must be purchased in advance by completing the booking form here.

Attendance: Participation at this event is for members and their guests only.

Note: Please note that this is a building site and members and guests should wear suitable footwear. No photography allowed inside the building.

Terms & Conditions: Participation at the discretion of the committee. No bookings accepted without payment. Limited places available. Preference will be given to members. Attendees must provide their own transport. Programme subject to change without notice.

Paying directly into our bank account: where you opt to pay directly into our bank account it must include your surname, membership number and the event name (e.g. Hurley 12345 Castle Freke). You must mail your booking form to or send a photo of the booking form via WhatsApp to the mobile number 087-9266826 to confirm your booking.

Please mail the booking form to Kevin Hurley, ‘Hazeldene’ 1 Amberley Park, Grange, Douglas, Cork. Eircode: T12 NTN2 Tel: 087-9266826 email: <> ). Please make your cheque payable to the Irish Georgian Society, Cork Chapter.