Situated on the N22 midway between Cork City and Killarney is Macroom, a busy market town in the valley of the Sullane River.The town has a colourful history and a range of activities for the visitor, making this an ideal destination for a relaxing vacation in County Cork. Go fishing in the local river or go golfing at Macroom Golf Club and other surrounding clubs. You can also enjoy hill walking or cycling, as the area has various trails and pathways.
The Gateway and tower are all that remain of Macroom Castle, which was granted to Admiral William Penn, (father of the founder of Pennsylvania U.S.A.) by Cromwell.
Macroom is twinned with the Breton town of Bubry. and Marcallo con Casone in Italy.
At a place called Bealick, near Macroom, there is a stone formation called a Dolmen. Within its confines were buried the bones of the dead after cremation. Such monuments were erected c.4,500 years ago. There are many such stone alignments and circular mounds, liosanna, within which families lived up to 1,000 years ago. People congregated at strategic positions for religious and social purposes. One such meeting place was at a ford on the River Sullane, at the Sloping Plain - Magh Chromtha - Macroom. Here was a druidic centre, where Crom, among other deities, was worshipped.
A major battle took place near Macroom in the year 987 A.D. Brian Boru's brother, Mahon, had been killed by Maolmuaidh of Cineal Aodha and Imhar, a Danish chieftain from Limerick, at Laharan in Aghina parish. A year later Brian Boru engaged Maolmuaidh and the O’Mahonys, whose allies included the Danes and the O’Donovans , in the Battle of Bealach Leachta, at the confluence of the Sullane and the Laney. The battle lasted all day and there were hundreds of casualties. Maolmuaidh was slain and Brian Boru was eventually declared King of Munster. This was the first major battle between the Irish and the Danes (Vikings), which came to a grand finale at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 with victory for the Irish.
The name Macroom can be explained in 3 ways:
1) Derived from the Irish version of Maigh Chromtha or crooked plain 2) Said to have its origins as the Plain of Crom the pagan God 3) Based on the name for a tree near the bridging point of the river, translating as "crooked Oak".
First documented reference to Macroom reaches back to about 550 A.D., when it was known as Achad Dorbchon and existed within the Kingdom of Muscraighe (Muskerry). Up until 1600, this area is referred to as a major religious centre. It was an ancient burial ground; the Bards of Munster congregated here; it also served as the seat of the Bishop of Cork.
The earliest evidence of settlement at Macroom is in the form of archaeological ruins, some of which are still visible today. These include ring forts, stone forts, fulacht fiadhs (cooking pits) and souterrains (underground passageways). Standing stones are noticeable in the district. They dot the landscape with great regularity. Some of these mark prehistoric burial sites. Some of the stones are as high as 15 feet with some of the stones bearing Ogham inscriptions. The area represents the home place of St. Finbarr, founder of Cork City, and the site of his first church near Macloneigh.
During the reign of the Ui Fhloinn (O'Flynns) tribe in the 12th century a castle was built at Achad Dorbchon (Macroom). Evidence suggests that the O'Flynn family were one of the earliest and most influential families of the Muskerry region. They had their headquarters at Macroom and established the first village site. The castle was the focal point for all subsequent development at Macroom.
In the 13th century Macroom suffered 3 invasions. The final one was by the McCarthys who went on to become the dominant and most powerful family within the region up to the end of the 17th century. The rise in prominence of Macroom was due to the early influence of the O'Flynns and the McCarthys.
Macroom Castle, the boyhood home of William Penn, stands on the western margin of the town of Macroom and its windows look away into the distance, where a rugged land lies at the foot of the mountains. Part of the castle is said to have been built in the reign of King John. It was granted to Admiral Penn instead of the property of his wife Margaret near Rineanna and later returned to the Earl of Clancarty; the Admiral received instead an estate in Shanagarry in East Cork.