Wilmount Castle, Cobh.

We are located on Wilmount Avenue, Carrignafoy in Cobh, County Cork.  At one point of time, the  property and the avenue was dominated by a Castle,  known as Wilmount Castle.

Landseer lion sculpture
Cast Lion of Wilmount Castle

The castle had two towers that were surmounted by 4  lions. We were told that these may have been cast by Edwin Henry Landseer, better known for his lions in Trafalgar Square. One of these lions still remains.

Recently, Anne McSweeney from Cobh completed some research on the castle that we would like to share:

“Ever since I was a child the ruins of Wilmount Castle held a fascination for me. I used to explore inside its walls with my friends and admire the beautiful stone lions and pick bunches of  bluebells which grew abundantly there in the 1950’s and even later in the early sixties when my husband and I were courting.

I felt sad when the Castle was demolished in 1962 even though a very fine modern house Castlebeg was built on the site by the late Jack O’Gorman (father of Paddy O’Gorman of TV fame) and is now the property of the Mulcahy family.

Recently I came across some old photos of Cobh taken from the sea and lo and behold there was (my Castle) standing proudly in all its glory; lording it over the eastern side of the town, flag flapping in the breeze. I was curious to find out who built it and who lived in it and came up with the following info :

Wilmount Castle was built in 1852 for the Seymour family. Captain William Deane Seymour, a prosperous Shipping Agent, Town Commissioner and Consul to various countries and Justice of the Peace with many business interests, too numerous to mention, lived in the castle with his wife Catherine. A force to be reckoned with was W.D., as he was known locally.

He owned some steamships including Arran Castle and Fanny and also shared ownership of a sailing ship with his brother Henry Seymour. William Deane represented the Inman Line for many years in Cobh and was author of “Journal of a Voyage round the World” and “ A Tour in Syria and Palestine” etc.

Captain Seymour is also credited with the building of both Athenian Terrace and St. Maur’s Terrace

Only remaining picture of Wilmount Castle

Wilmount Castle was built to the design of Richard Rolt Brash, Cork, a distinguished antiquarian as well as an architect who lived in Sundays Well until his death at his home on 18 January 1876.   He also designed the Assembly Rooms in Cork, Windele Monument in St. Joseph’s Cemetery also in Cork and Bandon Town Hall to mention but a few.

The castle consisted of two tall towers, one at each end of the main building. At the Eastern end was a large wing in which were situated the billiard room and the suite usually occupied by  Mr William Inman of the Inman Line on his visits to Ireland. Running from this Eastern Wing to the end of the corresponding wing at the Western tower was a picture gallery, a most imposing hall in which hung some very fine Marine paintings. W.D. gave some of these paintings on loan to the Crawford Art Gallery when they ran exhibitions from time to time.

The towers were surmounted by four well-cast lions and there was an immense American Eagle between them. Upon the western tower, Captain Seymour installed one of the earliest, if not the earliest telephone in Ireland, connecting the castle with his shipping offices on Lynch’s Quay.

I’ve been told that there was a telescope on the top of the castle where Captain Seymour was able to see messages being sent to him from Roches Point, letting him know of ships movements. There was a lodge at the entrance gates to the castle, all that remains of it now are the foundations.

Captain William Deane Seymour died 22nd August 1886 at the age of 73. His wife Catherine died 9 June 1900, aged 82, her address at that time was given as ‘The Park’.  In January 1887 there was an advert in the Cork Examiner referring to Wilmount Castle as a “Superior Boarding School for young ladies”. The Seymour’s son William Christopher died 8 July 1887 at the age of 55. His wife Francesca predeceased him in 1884 at the age of 48. I don’t know if William and Francesca had any children.

Lt Colonel William Christopher Seymour 1832-1887 only child of William Deane and Catherine Seymour, Wilmount Castle, Queenstown had a yacht called “Knight Templar” which he sailed all over Cork Harbour accompanied on several occasions by Richard Peterson Atkinson, Painter, who painted a lot of water colours depicting their adventures. Richard was the second son of George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson, famous Marine Painter who lived at 3 Merview Terrace until his death at the age of 78 in 1884. Richard and Christopher appear to have been great friends.  A lot of these paintings still hang in Crawford Art Gallery, with captions hand- written on the mountings and signed W.C. Seymour. Richard predeceased Christopher by five years, he died a young man in 1882.

In 1895 a Mr J Fox JP MD MP was recorded as residing at Wilmount Castle and in 1898 James Thomas Page, Chief Engineer R.N. was recorded as having died at the castle. The 1911 Census found the castle to be uninhabited.

The Seymour family are interred in the Old Church Cemetery. Their resting place is just as ostentatious as their previous dwelling. It seems to me that in spite of their power and wealth the family did not have the best of luck or health. I no longer envy them their castle or their way of life.”  Anne McSweeney