It was his own, private kingdom.
Castle Curious in Castletownroche was built around 1840 by one man, a 19th century eccentric and inventor named Johnny Roche.
Now for sale at €95,000, it will take somebody equally brave and unconventional to save his life’s work from ruin.
Sitting on 2.5 acres on the edge of the River Awbeg in Doonawanly, near Wallstown, and overlooking an old mill house that was also designed by Mr Roche, Castle Curious is a three-storey castle that was hand-built in three years by its industrious owner after he returned from a period spent in America.
According to local lore, Johnny Roche used his castle as both a home and a blacksmithing workshop but the design was something a little more special than the average Cork home and many of its best features have stood the test of time. Fans of castle architecture will be drawn to the bowed turrets, crenellations and limestone eaves, square-headed window openings and limestone lintels and sills.
There are hidden treasures here too; according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, the carved date-stone to the east elevation “was removed from a bridge built by Roche and inserted into the wall of Castle Curious after his death.”
Johnny Roche died on February 10th, 1884, having built himself a tomb in the middle of the River Awbeg, complete with the following epitaph:
“Here lies the body of poor John Roche, he had his faults but don’t reproach; For when alive his hearth was mellow, An artist, genius and comic fellow.”
Sadly the coroner demanded his remains were buried in the ground instead of the water so the tomb went unused.
A castle in the woods
This is not a project for the faint of heart. The castle has no roof, it’s consumed by brambles and nettles and modernising it will take patience, time and money. The listed site also includes a holy well that was once associated with curing sore legs, toothaches and earaches so make of that what you will.
For the right buyer, however, it’s a rare chance to own a brilliantly quirky piece of Cork history… and an impressive home to boot.
First listed in September 2018 for €55k more than its current asking price, Castle Curious remains on the market and is listed by Dominic J Daly & Co. Auctioneers here.
Check out this drone footage for sweeping views of the castle and its surrounding lands from above.