This morning we went to Desmond Castle, the not-so-secret reason we came to Kinsale. While reading through Rick Steve’s Ireland travel book, my imagination was caught by a random fact about this particular castle. During the Revolutionary War, American sailors captured as prisoners of war were taken to the castle (then a prison). Some were chained to the walls as an example for Irish rebels.
Mary Cate: Wait, you dragged us all the way out here for this castle?
Me: But think of the potential stories! What if there was an American sailor who escaped? And what if he happened to meet a nice Irish lass? And what if they had to run away to America together??
Mary Cate: …
So. We went this morning, and had a nice introduction by the guy at the front desk. We learned a lot about the use of the castle over the ages and about Ireland’s connections with the wine industry (apparently a ton of famous wines are made by Irish people who’ve immigrated). We saw into the prison and found an information board about the Revolutionary prisoners. As we were leaving, I asked the guy if any prisoners had ever escaped. He was like, “Oh yes!” And he launched into stories about a Presbyterian minister and his daughter who helped rescue, hide and smuggle the Americans out of the prison and then out of Ireland. Apparently they had one sailor who was so sick he almost died. But they persisted, at the risk of their own lives. Eventually they had to flee to America to escape prosecution.
As I listened, I’m pretty sure my eyes kept widening and grin kept growing. Mary Cate said afterwards, “I was thinking, ‘Haven’t I heard this story before??'”
Apparently the daughter wrote about her adventures in letters, which are kept on microfilm in the Cork library. I deeply regret that I won’t be able to get my hands on them. I’ve scoured the internet, but have only found one book with a chapter about this, and it’s actually on a Cork merchant who was also involved in getting the Americans out. I’m hoping to go back tomorrow to ask the guide for suggestions on how I can do more research. Even though historical fiction scares the heck out of me, I think there’s a real story here, and it’d be so much fun to play with.
After leaving Desmond Castle, we stopped by the church and tried to find the notches where Norman warriors sharpened their swords. We also popped into the town museum, which was very low budget but also really interesting.
We spent most of the rest of the day popping into various shops. We had lunch in a little book shop. We had a midafternoon dessert at a diner type place (I had ice cream and waffles, and some tea). We met a lot of friendly Irish shopkeepers, and saw a lot of absolutely beautiful wool creations. Later we got pizza for dinner. It’s been raining a lot, but we’re hoping to get out to Fort Charles tomorrow. It’s nice taking it slow before the madness which will be our last few days. Oh, and I bought Ready. Set. Novel! at an independent book shop because… I need it. *hugs it to chest*
Now I’m going to continue in my internet search for more info on Desmond Castle.