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Fort Meagher / Fort Camden - Cork Harbour

Photographs  John H. Luxton 2006

I have on a number of occasions visited Fort Meagher on the hill above Crosshaven at the entrance. On previous occasions the two sets of gates have been firmly locked as one would expect. However, when I visited on July 29, 2006 both the outer and inner pedestrian gates were open! Therefore, I couldn't resist the temptation to take a quick look in side! However, being aware that should the gates be closed and locked I would have no means of escape and having left my  phone was the car parked several hundred yards away - I didn't wander far beyond view of the entrance. However, I was still able to take quite a few photographs of this remarkable site which just cries out to be preserved.
The fort is surrounded on the landward sides by a very deep, dry moat 40 feet deep and 28 feet wide. Casemated barracks occupy the main structure visible here.WWII (?) lookout above the moat bridge from which the right hand photo was taken. The quay complete with narrow gauge railway can be seen.
Guard House by the entranceGun emplacements Looking back to the entrance
Another Cork Harbour Fort

Features an online petition against plans to turn it into a modern prison.

Barrack BlocksGuard House - east side. 

A Short History of Fort Meagher

Fort Meagher was originally constructed by the British Military along with other coastal defences in the Cork Harbour area during the Napoleonic Wars. During the British rule the fort bore the name Fort Camden - after the second Early of Camden, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1795.  It occupies a 60 acre site 200 feet above sea level.

Fort Meagher is situated on the west side of the entrance to Cork Harbour. On the opposite side of the entrance lies Fort Davis (Fort Carlisle) which is still used by the Irish Army.

Between 1850 and 1865 the fort served as a convict prison. It was returned to military use being extended and extended present size during the period 1875 to 1880 using both contract and convict labour from the nearby Spike Island convict prison. During this extension 30 additional guns were installed

A narrow gauge railway was installed to handle torpedoes in the 1890s, remains of the tracks are visible down on the quay. There is a tunnel engineered to house a torpedo system invented by Louis Philip Brennan on the site as well as other extensive underground tunnels and a large underground magazine

Along with other military bases in the Cork Harbour area the British garrison remained 1938. However with war clouds looming in Europe and the presence of the British military threatening Irish neutrality the British withdrew on July 11,  1938 from Cork Harbour, along with the other "Treaty Ports", and they were handed over to the then Irish Free State Army.

The Irish Army renamed the fort after Thomas Francis Meagher. Meagher was born in the City of Waterford, Ireland, in 1823. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, in Lancashire, England and played a key part in the Young Ireland Rebellion in 1848. After the rebellion he was  sentenced to transportation to a penal colony in Tasmania from where he escaped to the United States of America.

He fought on the Union side in the American Civil War rising to the rank of Brigadier General, following the war he became Governor of Montana and died in a drowning "accident" in 1867. [Full biography on Wikipedia]

Fort Meagher was occupied by the army during "The Emergency" as WWII is often referred to in Ireland. Following the war it was used by the Irish Naval Service.

In 1989 the fort was sold to Cork County Council who according to various web sources have a long term plan to develop a Military Heritage Centre and tourist accommodation, water sport facilities and other attractions on the site. However, as yet 17 years on nothing appears to have happened.


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