Some readers of my medieval Irish novels Lions of the Grail and The Waste Land have asked me where is Corainne castle, the home of Alys de Logan? The other castles and forts mentioned in the books are obvious and can still be visited today but Corainne is a bit more obscure. Given that the other locations in the books are real places and the events of the war are historically accurate, is it a real place too?
Firstly, it's probably important to point out that while Savage and Logan are authentic Hiberno-Norman names that belonged to medieval barons of Ulster, Richard and Alys themselves are fictional characters. The site of Alys’s castle can be revealed though.
In Lions of the Grail, the Hospitaller tells Edward Bruce that “Vikingsford lough is De Logan land, watched over by the castle at Corainne point.”
“Vikingsford”, also known in some Medieval sources as “Wulfrich’s Ford”, is now Larne lough, just North of Carrickfergus in County Antrim and still the port where the ferry from Scotland arrives in Ireland, pretty much following the sea road that Edward Bruce and his army took in 1315. Corainne is an older form of the modern Curran Point, where the ruins of a castle now named “Olderfleet” still stand.
|Olderfleet castle ruins|
It’s important to note that, as pointed out in an earlier post about motte and bailey castles in Ulster, that when we say “castle”, in terms of medieval Ireland, most of these buildings were not the moated, curtain-walled, multi-turreted fortress with portcullis and drawbridge that springs to mind when we think of the word castle. The castle of the de Logan’s at Corainne was an early form of the Irish tower house. This was a much more modest affair, suited to the more low level defensive needs of the time.
Illustrator JG O'Donoghue recently posted an excellent painting and description of a medieval Irish tower house which you can read it here -
The tower house in the painting is probably slightly bigger than what Alys's would have been like, and she had a wooden palisade rather than a stone wall, but it really gives a great impression of the castle would have looked like when Alys and Galiene were living there, dependent on the loyalty of the few remaining family servants, trying to make ends meet and scratching a living form the potions they made from herbs grown in the garden.
The other question I get asked is where was Richard Savage's castle. That will be for another post.