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Baile an Chaisleáin or Castletownsend is a townland of 220 hectares or 544 acres  and in the early part of the 20th century, 28 individual fields were mapped in this townland.

It is in the Electoral Division of Castlehaven North, in Civil Parish of Castlehaven and the Roman Catholic Parish of Castlehaven and Myross.

Baile an Chaisleáin is bordered by Carraig Tí Seáin (Carrigtishane) to the north,  An Driseán (Drishane) to the south, and Na Garráin (Gurranes), Cnoc Droma (Knockdrum) and Cill Achaidh Aingle  (Killangal) to the west

OpenStreetmap contributors, with input from the Castlehaven & Myross History Society, have created a  detailed townland map including all its minor placenames. Zoom in for further detail.



Baile an Chaisleáin can be interpreted as the town of the castle - Bruno O'Donoghue calls it Castletown. Note that the townland is called Castletownsend while the village is called Castletownshend (with a "h"). It was the original seat of the Townsend family in Ireland. It's ancient name is said to be Sliabh Leig which can be interpreted as the hill of the pillar stone although Bruno O'Donoghue interprets this as Sliabh na Léige (the hill of the ridge).  It is also said that the ancient name might be Sleug teig. Smith is his history of Cork wrote it as Sloughleigh.




Origin of Name: According to Bruno O'Donoghue, Castletownsend takes its name from the old castle of the O'Driscolls and it takes it present name from Colonel Richard Townsend, a presbyterian officer of the Long Parliament who, in 1647, obtained land in Carbery and settled here around the end of the Cromwellian wars. He died in 1692. The first Townsend castle was destroyed in 1690.


Benchmark: First ever benchmark in the world was made in Castletownshend and was made of lead

Benchmark on wall at top of Castletownshend

Boating Tragedy: In the past, many  of the Anglicans rowed out in punts from the village of Castletownshend (which was known as Castletown at that time) for Sunday service. A tragic boating accident necessitated the building of a timber structure in the village itself. This was replaced in 1827 by the current, beautiful edifice. 


Sea Captain: James Attridge of Castletownshend (born c. 1805) captained the original Jeanie Johnston which famously transported thousands of Irish emigrants to the US and Canada. During 16 transatlantic voyages during and after the Great Famine, the ship never lost a single passenger to disease or the sea while under his command.


Péicín Nelson (Nelson's Column):



As part of Griffiths Valuation in 1852, a survey of house quality was carried out to calculate what rates were due by each household. These were issued in the form of house books (Pg 1Pg 2Pg 3Pg 4Pg 5, Pg 6, Pg 7, Pg 8, Pg 9, Pg 10, Pg 11, Pg 12, Pg 13) and a guide on how to interpret these can be seen here. These show that all of the 182 occupied houses in the townland at this time were class 1. This means that they were slated dwelling houses built with stone or brick and lime mortar. 31 were described as new or nearly new with 7 of these described as very substantial buildings finished without cut stone ornament while the other 24 were described as having an ordinary finish. 97 of the houses were described as medium (not new) with 25 being in sound order and good repair, 25 more being slightly decayed but in good repair and the other 47 were described as deteriorated by age and not in perfect repair. The other 54 houses were old (more than 25 years) with 37 being in repair, 13 being out of repair and the other 4 were described as dilapidated and scarcely habitable.  The height of the  houses varied between 5 feet 6 inches (!) and 23 feet 6 inches tall.

By the 1901 census (Pg 1Pg 2Pg 3, Pg 4, Pg 5, Pg 6, Pg 7), there is a drop to 71 occupied houses and all have walls of stone, brick or concrete with roofs of slate, iron or tiles. Overall 35 of the houses have two, three or four rooms with 4 having just one window in front, 15 having two (indicating that these are probably all single storey at this time) while 9 have three windows and the other 7 have four windows in front.  18 houses have five or six rooms with 9 having three windows in front, 2 have four, 2 have five, 2 have six and the last 3 have seven, ten and eleven windows in front respectively. Another 17 houses have seven, eight or nine rooms with 3 having four windows in front, 4 having five, 3 having six, 1 having seven, 3 having eight, 2 having ten and the other one has eleven windows in front. One has has ten, eleven or twelve rooms with eight windows in front and the other 6 houses have thirteen rooms or more with seven, nine, thirteen, sixteen, sixteen and twenty-four windows in front respectively.

When we advance to the 1911 census (Village - Pg 1, Pg 2, Pg 3, Pg 4, Pg 5 / Rural - Pg 1)  there is a slight increase overall to 73 occupied houses and the census shows 64 houses in the village with another 9 in the rural area (itwasn't split before). Not surprisingly, all still have walls of stone, brick or concrete with roofs of slate, iron or tiles. Overall 34 of the houses have two, three or four rooms with 1 having just one window in front, 15 having two (indicating that these are probably all single storey at this time) while 12 have three windows and the other 5 have four windows in front.  16 houses have five or six rooms with 1 having two windows in front, 9 have three, 1 has four, 3 have five and the last 2 have six and seven windows in front respectively. The last 12 houses have seven, eight or nine rooms with 2 having three windows in front, 2 having four, 2 having five and two having seven windows in front while the other four houses have six, eight, nine and eleven windows in front respectively.



Places of Interest 

Houses: There are many notable houses in Castletownshend. Follow this link to see more information on some of these

ChurchFollow this link to see more information on St. Barrahane's church

Graveyard: Follow this link to see more information on the graveyard beside St. Barrahane's church

The Two TreesA unique feature of Castletownshend is the two sycamore trees growing in the roundabout in the centre of the village. The present sycamores replace two trees planted in the 1800s

The Two Trees

Attridge's Quay: Add information ********






Families and Notable Residents 


The Tithe Applotment books of 1825 list the following family names:  

Townsend, O'Leary, Hurley, Sullivan, Blackburn, Barnard, Blackburn, Brien, Donovan, Driscoll, Collins, Townsend, Neil, Attridge, Livinson (?), Graves (?), Barry, Harrington, Leahy, Donovan, Crowley, Ambrose, Donovan, Kingsmill (?), Connolly, Daley, Sullivan, Chard, Chard, Attridge, Attridge, Driscoll, Townsend, Murphy, Grace, Halihane, Hurley, Travers (?), Ferguson,  Brien, Bailey, Brickley, Sullivan,  (Illegible?), Bowen (?), Labournin (?), Donovan, McLoughlan, Salter, Coughlan, Connolly, Griffin, Townsend, Jameson (?), (Illegible?), Cotter, (Illegible?), Holman, Townsend, Driscoll, James (?), Farry (?), Brien, Driscoll, Attridge, Matthews (?), Mansfield, Baldwin, Somilin/illegible (?), Rowntree (?), Somilin/illegible (?) , Donovan, Humphrey (?)


Griffiths Valuation of 1853 lists the following family names: 


Main Street: Moore, Atkins, Collins, Sullivan, Grace, Leary, Harrington, Isom, Driscoll, Dungey, Norcock, Jennison, Blissett, McCarthy, Leary, Clarke, Rev Arthur Leary, Atkins, Daly, Hallahane, Hurley, Donovan, Hurley, Hallahane, Canty, Salter, Salter, Chard, Coghill, Driscolls, McCarthy, Daly, Carter, Driscoll, McCarthy, Driscoll, McCullagh, Driscoll, Rev. James Mulcahy, Herbert, Bryan, Trounce, Samuel, Callaghan, Baker, Leary, Regan, Connell, Goodwin, Connell, Chard, Driscoll, Kingsmill, Rierdon, McCarthy. In addition, there were 20 unoccupied ruins here while Thomas Attridge had a corn-store, yard and quay while the Constabulary Force had a police barracks here

The Mall: Baily, Driscoll, Mahony, Attridge, Hogan. In addition, there was one unoccupied ruin here

Schoolhouse Lane (Off The Mall): Taylor, Hamilton, McCarthy, Travers. In addition, the Church Education Society had a school here and Rev MFS Townsend had ruins, waste and an old quarry here, 

Driscoll's Lane (off The Mall): Driscoll, Barry, Hegarty, Attridge, Burchill, Hennessy, Sweeny, Bates, Sullivan, Mahony, Driscoll. In addition, there were 2 unoccupied houses while Thomas Attridge had an office and gardens here.

Rural: Rev MFS Townsend, Hurley, Murphy, Burchell, Connell, Bray, Blackburne, Donovan, Mahony, Walsh, Donovan, Somerville, Hegarty, Healy, Gilman, James, Townsend, Galvan. There was also a Coastguard house. In addition, the following  families had offices and/or land only: Chambers, Coghill, Mahony, Mahony, Callaghan, Attridge


The Census of Ireland of 1901 lists the following family names: 

Coghill (with Richards, Creedon, Sullivan, Driscoll, Chard (all servants) and Oliver (nurse)),  Coghill (with Mahoney, Carolan,  Keohane and Magner (all servants)), Chavesse (with Hurley, Blackwell and Jenkins (all servants)), Sullivan, Donovan, Sandys (with Regan (servant)), Vickery, Connell (with Wall (servant)), Hallihan (with Connor (servant)), Neill (with Hayes (visitor)), Mahony, Mahony, Hennessy (with Donovan and Keohane (servants)), Minihane, Carolan (with Keane (mother-in-law)), Burns, Daly, Burchill, Fenwick (with Sullivan (servant)), McCarthy, Shea, Mahony, Neil (with Collins (boarder)), Mahony (with Donoghue (servant)), Brien, Dwyer, Keane, Collins, Crowly, Hurly, O'Connell, Garvey (with Regan (visitor)), Ward (with Browne (boarder), Hegarty, Finacy (with Donovan (grandson)), Walsh, McCarthy, Creedon, Hilary, Chard, Driscoll (with O'Brien (sister)), Norris, O'Leary, Donovan, Hurley, Healy, Ricketts (with Ward and McGuire (servants)), Cope (with Healy (mother), Tegan (with Walsh (daughter and grand daughter), Hurley and Wholly (both servants)), McKenzie, Daley, Appelby, Cronin (with Desmond (sister-in-law)), Mulvey, Boland, Watson, Aylmer (with Sercombe, McCarthy and Bohane (all servants)), Townshend (with Meagher and Donovan (both servants)), McCarthy ((with Sullivan (sister)),  Sullivan, Norris, McCarthy, Leary, Wholey, Hourihane, McCarthy, Mugford, Meade, Easter, Goldup, Minstrell, Rice, Brickley, Leary, Sercombe (with Moloney (sister)), Keohane. In addition, a constable with the initials F.B. was listed in the barracks 


The Census of Ireland of 1911 lists the following family names: 

Castletownsend: Runciman (with Edgar (niece)), O'Neill, O'Connell, Hurley, Newman, Walsh, Collins, Keohane, Collins

Castletownsend Town: Spencer with King , Donovan and McCarthy (all servants), Hurley with Collins (servant), Sandys with Bagnell (visitor) and Regan (servant), Hobson with Curry (step-daughter) and Connell (servant), Donovan, McKennedy with Collins (mother-in-law), Burns, Norris, Rice, Mahoney with Burke (visitor) and Burke (relative), Sullivan, Hurley, Charde, O'Shea with Cahill (daughter), Hilary, Creedon, McCarthy, Leary, Hegarty, Ward, Garvey, Daly, O'Neill, Mahony, Aylmer with Weir (butler domestic servant ) and McCarthy and Bohane (both servants), Minihan with McCarthy (sister), Minstrell, McCarthy, McCarthy with Hegarthy (daughter), Sercombe with Moloney (sister), Daly, Keohane, Leary, Brickley, McCarthy, Hourihan with O'Leary (boarder), O'Mahoney, Donovan, Healy, Vickery, Sullivan, Norris with Driscoll (grandson), McCarthy, Wholey with McCarthy (grandson and 2 x grand-daughters), Donovan, Finnegan with Cope (visitor), Mahoney with Finnacy (visitor), Hennessy with Attridge and Scully (both servants), Barton with Coghlan (servant), Beacham with Leary (servant), Leary, Townshend with Mahoney (servant), Halloran, Conroy, Randall, Purdy, Fowler, Tiltman, Coghill with Bolger (cook), Carolan (parlour-maid) and Suivan (kitchen-maid), Coghill with Gorges (cousin), McLeod (governess), South (nurse), O'Connor (dress-maker), and McAuliffe, Driscoll, Driscoll, Ross and Ross (all servants), Magner, Mahoney, Hallihane. In addition, the family of William Joyce were listed in the barracks alongs with constables with the initials J.S., J.S. and W.S. 

Note: the term 'with' refers to a person or persons of a different family name staying in the house. This may have been an in-law or other relative, a guest, or a farm labourer/housekeeper or domestic servant.



Demographics and Landholding


    *Occupiers Population Change Link to record
1825 Tithe Applotment 71 426 (est)   1825 Pg2
1841 Census of Ireland 41 (Incl. 1 unoccupied) 254    
1851 Census of Ireland 3 15    
1853 Griffith's Valuation

Village: 96 (Incl. 23 unoccupied)

Rural: 20 (incl. 2 unoccupied)


Village: 500 (est)

Rural: 108 (est)

  1853 Pg 2 Pg 3
1861 Census of Ireland 4 (Incl. 1 unoccupied) 11    
1871 Census of Ireland 2 12    
1881 Census of Ireland 7 (Incl. 1 uoccupied) 17    
1891 Census of Ireland 3 8    
1901 Census of Ireland 77 (Incl. Barracks) 346   1901
1911 Census of Ireland

64 (Town)

9 (Rural)

262 (Town)

37 (Rural)

  1911 Pg 2 Pg 3

*Occupiers generally equate to households having a house and land but may also include households having houses but no land.

The proprietor of this townland in 1841 was Colonel John Townsend of Castletownshend and his agent was Charles Clarke of Skibbereen. It was all in the proprietor's possession  and held as demesne save a small part on which the village of Castletownshend was built.

In 1841 the soil was described as good or middling, producing crops of wheat, oats and potatoes.








Further Reading

  • Placenames Database of Ireland entry for statutory version in Irish and English

  • A Collection Of Placenames From Cork County, Barony Of West Carbery (East Div.),Volume 2 - Dr Éamon Lankford
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 1 - 2020  
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 2 - 2021  
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 3 - 2022 
  • Skibbereen and District Historical Society Journal Vol. 7 - Admiral Boyle Somerville: Archaeologist and Pioneering Archaeoastronomer (Dr. Bryan Lacey) - Pg. 97
  • Skibbereen and District Historical Society Journal Vol. 14 - Carberians Invade Dingle Between 1776 and 1797 (Dr. Toby Barnard) - Pg. 61
  • Parish Histories and Place Names of West Cork - Bruno O'Donoghue
  • Where Is That - The Irish Times (17th July 2000)
  • The Coast of West Cork - Peter Somerville-Large
  • See for information on this townland




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