Ballycarbery Castle was said to have been built in the 15th century by Carbery O’Shea. It was built on a slight eminence on the tidal estuary of the river Ferta, just east of Valentia Harbour and near Cahersiveen.
Originally, the main castle was very sizable and consisted of a main hall house and projecting tower. The walls were over 9 ft thick. There is an interesting history of how the Ballycarbery Castle came to belong to the McCarthy family. McCarthy Mór brought the O’Shea’s to task and installed a family of the Clan O’Connell under Morgan Dubh as constables. These O’Connells were the ancestors of Daniel O’Connell.
There is a legend that indicates how independent these constables could be. When McCarthy Mór sent a cradle to the O’Connells indicating they were to take in a fostering child, the O’Connells returned the messenger’s head in the cradle; indicating their answer. McCarthy Mór was so incensed at this action, he arrived with a large army, took the castle and hanged Morgan Dubh from the highest window. It is reputed that on a certain night of the year, Morgan’s screams can be heard echoing around the castle walls.
In 1652, it was attacked by cannon-fire from English forces during the Cromwellian invasion.