James' Fort        

Kinsale, Ireland                
The first thing that one notices when looking at the above image is the huge fortification that obviously existed before the current fort, which seems microscopic by comparison. The ruins belong to a fort called Castle Ny-Parke, which is described in various places as a "medieval fortification," although we all know that nobody was building star forts until the 15th century, which...well, granted, would have arguably been at the end of the middle ages. Whatever, very little information seems readily available about Castle Ny-Parke, at least as far as when it was constructed.

What this "medieval fortification" was used for, however, isn't in doubt. The Spanish, coming to the aid of their Irish Catholic brethren, landed at Kinsale in October of 1601. Spanish King Philip III (1578-1621) had sent an armada of 6000 men in response to Ireland's cries for help in their conflict with England, in hopes of dampening Britain's enthusiasm for their assistance to the forces arrayed against Spain in the Netherlands, providing a base for the disruption of British shipping, and, oh yeah, perhaps helping the Irish achieve their independence - although the latter was probably the least of Philip's interests.

The Spanish force, whittled down to 4000 men by the good ol' English Channel, scrambled to occupy both Castle Ny-Parke and Ringcurran Castle across Kinsale's harbor, which would later be rebuilt as Charles Fort. British forces commanded by Charles Blount, Earl of Mountjoy (1563-1606), Irish forces and Spanish reinforcements all converged on Kindale at the end of 1601 for a showdown, which the British won. Castle Ny-Parke was either destroyed in the battle or razed afterwards, because the British began building James' Fort, (named for Britain's King James I (1566-1625)) in 1602, immediately after the Spanish had been sent packing. James' Fort was completed in 1607.

James' Fort and Charles Fort, completed in the 1677 and named for English King Charles II (1630-1685), guarded the entrance to Kinsale Harbor. A chain was strung betwixt the forts in time of war with the expectation of ripping the bottom out of attacking ships.

A typically convoluted political and religious mess led to the Williamite War in and around England in 1688. Two dudes, James II (1633-1701) and William III of Orange (1650-1702) both figured they should be King of England, and loads of folks lined up behind each of them. By 1689 the Protestant William had driven Catholic James from Britain, but James allied with France and landed at Kinsale with a force of 6000 (French) men on March 12 1689. This Jacobian army swept in and occupied both James' Fort and Charles Fort. James and his Frenchmen used the forts as a base to attack nearby towns for about a year, when Williamite forces reclaimed the forts. And while one hates to take sides, it sure seems like any British monarch who would ally himself with France to the extent of landing 6000 of them in Ireland needed to get his arse kicked.

Today James' Fort is in the process of a renovation project, but currently all are free to scamper therein. The fort sits apart from the bustle of Kinsale, so visitors who have been there report that they've had the fort pretty much to themselves.

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James' Fort?
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Info Source 13 Thanks to Google Maps for the image!
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