Dripsey History
At first sight, the small parish of Dripsey would appear to be a picturesque and peaceful place, as indeed it is, but it has had its fair share of intrigue and excitement in the past. From castles to mills, from chieftains to druids and from saints to murderers!
There have been many, more detailed accounts of these events, and this is but a brief and fleeting version of a few of the happenings.
Dripsey Castle
The Castle of Carrignamuck (now generally known as Dripsey Castle) stands on a solid rock near a bend of the river Dripsey, and about a mile from the village of that name. It is one of a chain of such buildings extending from Blarney to beyond Macroom – all formerly in the hands of the Lords of Muskerry.
Mills
For about 200 years there has been a succession of mills in Dripsey, from a paper mill started by Bat O’Sullivan in 1784, two cheese factories and a woollen mill which remained active until 1983.
Druids and Saints
In Aghbulloge, there is an “ogham stone”. These stones have pre-Christian writing on them called ogham. This ‘writing’ is really short lines carved into the stone. The ogham was used mainly for short inscriptions on tombstones. Druids often worshipped their pagan gods at these stones.
But ogham writing and pagan gods went out when Christianity came in and St Olan, our patron saint, brought it to our area. His traditional burial place is in the old, rather overgrown, graveyard which is presumed to be the original site of St Olan’s Church.
Strangely enough, St Olan’s grave is marked by another ogham stone called “The Cap of Olan” because of the cap-like shape of the lump of quartzite firmly fixed on top of the pillar. The pillar stands among many more graves.
The parish is full of signs left by St Olan. Near his grave there is a boulder with foot-like impressions on it which are said to be the imprint of St Olan’s feet because he preached from the rock. Beside the first ogham stone, there is a well dedicated to him.
Leader’s Folly
In the same graveyard is the grave of a very extraordinary man called Henry Leader. In the deep river valley, through which the Dripsey river flows, he built ne of the most fascinating things in Dripsey. Leader wanted to get water across from one side of the valley to the other. His plan was to build thirteen stone pillars, about seventy feet tall, across the valley, which he did. These carried the wooden water chute. It is said to have carried water once then collapsed! Because of this it was called Leader’s Folly, “folly” being the term used in the country for a foolish scheme. Henry Leader died in 1887.
Murder at Shandy Hall
On 16 December, 1887, Surgeon Major Philip Cross of Shandy Hall, Dripsey stood in the Cork Courthouse on trial for the murder of his wife. The trial lasted four days, Cross was found guilty and was sentenced to be hanged on the following 10th January.
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Dripsey Ambush
About a mile from Sandy Hall, on the road from Dripsey to Coachford, near the turn-off for Peake, an unsuccessful ambush took place, between the Irish Volunteers and the British Black and Tans, during the Irish Fight for Independence (1916-1922).