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Cahir Castle

The Irish People Newspaper’s castle of the week

Cahir Castle has been chosen as the Irish People Newspaper’s castle of the week. Cahir castle was built in 1142 by Conchobar Ua Briain, King of Thomond. The castle is strategically sited where an earlier native fortification known as a cathair (stone fort), gave its name to the town of Cahir. Today Cahir Castle is a magnificent and authentic monument to history. Let us know which Irish Castle you like best. Then we can create our own ‘Top 10’ Irish castles.

Strategic and Scenic Location

Cahir Castle is strategically built on a rocky islet on the River Suir. It is one of Ireland’s most well preserved castles.  Located in the south of County Tipperary, Cahir Castle has had a chequered 800-year old history. Its location and imposing architecture on a rocky islet in the river Suir makes it one of the Irelands finest castles. A large gaggle of geese occupy its keep as in days of your when they loudly warned of intruders.

The castle retains much of its parts in excellent condition. From its fine tower you can view its defensive walls that stand as testament to its long history. Its rocky islet location made it an excellent vantage point during times of strife.

Cahir Castle’s History

According to the ancient Book of Lecan, a fort was destroyed on this site in the 3rd century AD.  There’s also evidence that Brian Boru (926 to 1014) had a house here.  The castle was built in 1142 by Conchobar Ua Briain, King of Thomond. The castle was strategically sited on an earlier native fortification known as a cathair (stone fort), which gave its name to the town which grew around it. The core structure of the castle dates to the 13th century O’Brien castle.

Much of the present Cahir Castle dates from the 13th century, with two additional sections being added two centuries later. Cahir Castle was the largest and the most imposing defensive castle of its time consisting of a spacious courtyard, large halls, a massive keep, and high defensive walls.

Reconstruction of Cahir Castle on the site of Conchobar Ua Briain, King of Thomond’s original castle began in the 13th century by the infiltrating Anglo Norman Worcester or de Bermingham families. In 1375, the castle was granted to James Butler, newly created Earl of Ormond of the powerful Anglo Norman Butler family. The castle was further enlarged and remodelled between the 15th and 17th centuries. It fell into ruin in the late 18th century but was partially restored including the Great Hall in the 1840’s.

Sieges and Wars

During the Elizabethan War, the Butlers of Cahir sided with the Irish.  The first Baron Cahir was created in 1542. This branch of the Butler dynasty sided with the Irish in the Elizabethan wars. In 1599 following a three day siege the castle was captured by the Earl of Essex and for a year Sir Charles Blount was put in charge. Lord Cahir joined the Earl of Tyrone in 1601 and was charged with treason, but was later granted a full pardon. In 1627 a celebrated killing took place in the castle when Lord Cahir’s son-in-law, Lord Dunboyne, murdered a distant cousin, James Prendergast over a disputed inheritance: he was tried but acquitted. Cahir castle was besieged twice during the Irish Confederate Wars. In 1647 George Mathew, the guardian of the young Lord Cahir, surrendered to Murrough O’Brien, 6th Baron Inchiquin later 1st Earl, and a descendant of Cahir’s original builder following his victory at the Battle of Knocknanauss. In 1650 he surrendered again to Oliver Cromwell without a shot even being fired. In 1961 the last Lord Cahir died and the castle became the property of the Irish state.

Cahir Castle today

The Cahir Castle we see today is largely the result of 19th century extensive restorative work. However Cahir Castle retains most of its historic features and stands as an outstanding monument to history.

In 1975, the castle was the setting for the Stanley Kubrick classic ‘Barry Lyndon’. Cahir Castle has been a location for many movies and television shows through the years, including “The Tudors” and “Excalibur.”

Cahir castle has been named Europe’s favourite filming location. The castle was up against four other locations with a public vote resulting in the 700 year old castle taking the prestigious European Film Commissions Network Location Award 2021. The site was nominated for a recent award by Screen Ireland for the movie “The Green Knight,”


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