Cloghphilip, Cloch Philib, is a townland in the District Election Division of Mathey in the Muskerry region of Cork, it consists of approx. five hundred and forty-five acres of elevated rolling green, fertile fields that dip sharply to dense woodland that grows along the river Shournagh. A document drafted in Cork in the year 1488, about twenty years after the construction of neighboring Blarney Castle, records how John, son of Richard, son of Simon Barrett, then the lord of Cloghphilip, gave Cloghphilip to Owen MacCarthy. From then until now the river of the valley of Philip, bounded the lands on the north, Temayr (Tower) on the south; the stream near Maghmucky was to the east, and the stream by Gort-Donoughmore to the west. [1]

The townland includes Kilnamacky (the big abounding wood) and a stone wall runs parallel to the Kerry Road from Tower village as far west as Killeen cross. Numerous local nomenclature persists until today still, Gillman’s Lane, Bucker’s Lane, the forty-acre field, Mullaghgotop, Scanlon’s Lane, the Hydro field, Pickford’s Hill.

There was an interesting letter in 1850 to the Royal Irish Academy whereby the author, Richard Caulfield, states that he came across the stone head for Cloughphilip Castle; the writer was deeply concerned due to people searching the castle ruins, and beneath it, searching for gold which was rumored to be buried there. According to Caulfield there was an inscription on a stone in the north-east of the castle “D. C. K. 1590” which is at least one-hundred years after the castle was supposedly built. [2] Unfortunately there is no drawing or etching of Cloughphilip castle that survives nor a photograph of the castle ruins.

An advert in a newspaper, the Belfast Commercial Chronicle, on Wednesday 20 November 1833, lists the townland as one of about a dozen in the county of Cork for sale. In this advert it states that there are five hundred and sixty-one acres in Cloughphilip; there were thirteen tenants on the land with a substantial rent role of over five hundred pounds per annum.

Belfast Commercial Chronicle – Wednesday 20 November 1833

Royal Commission for inquiring into the number and boundaries of Poor law Unions and Electoral Divisions in Ireland; Ninth Report

According to the published details of the Royal Commission for inquiring into the number and boundaries of Poor law Unions and Electoral Divisions in Ireland there was one hundred and forty-six people living on the townland in 1841. It is unfortunate that there is no mention of any of the tenant families or details of where they lived in the townland.

However, the earliest mention of the actual residents details of Cloughphilip is in Griffith’s Valuation. This was the primary valuation of Ireland which was carried out between 1848 and 1864 to determine liability to pay the Poor rate (for the support of the poor and destitute within each Poor Law Union). It provides detailed information on where people lived in mid-nineteenth century Ireland and the property they possessed. Griffith’s Valuation is fully searchable online, free of charge on the Ask About Ireland website.

According to Griffith’s Valuation the five hundred and forty-five acres contained in Cloughphilip were subdivided into twelve distinct areas, and each of these may have been subdivided further with a registered total of at least thirty-three families listed.

Griffith’s Valuation Cloughphilip Map, circa 1847, with lots shaded by hand from Griffith’s Valuation (

Griffith’s Valuation Cloughphilip Details, circa 1847, from Griffith’s Valuation (

By the time of the 1901 census of Ireland there was twenty-seven houses in Cloughphilip which accommodated one hundred and fifty-seven people.  The 1911 census returns of the same area in Cloughphilip show that there were thirty houses now and just one hundred and eight people accounted for.

Over a hundred years later, according to the 2016 census returns, there were approx. four hundred and fifty-eight people living in Cloughphilip, over three times the number recorded in 1911. [3] That figure is expected to increase drastically over the coming years with the redrawing of the Cork city boundary in 2019 that resulted in Cloughphilip being included inside the city, no longer under the remit of Cork County Council.

During the early 2000’s about one hundred and sixty acres of farmland and was purchased and subsequently a substantial hotel and leisure center, along with a new golf course and club, was constructed.  While the hotel closed nearly fifteen years later and was acquired by the HSE recently the golf club has gone from strength to strength and is hugely successful with a large membership. [4] The golf club’s website has magnificent drone footage of the golf course which gives the viewer some perspective on the layout and habitat of the townland.

Cork city boundary extension – from Cork City (

Dúchas recorded a great story from Patrick Hegarty in the 1940’s where he recounts how a visitor to the Hydro, St. Anne’s Hill Hydropathic establishment, was exploring the Cloughphilip castle when he entered some caves nearby; here the visitor met a nun who carried a gold plate with the instruction to “Follow Me” written on it and gestured for the adventurer to follow her further underground. The wise visitor turned on his heels and fled never to return! [5]

Remains of stone houses on what is now Blarney Golf Club