A medieval storybook castle...
Childhood fantasies and violent histories collide in the sleepy town of Cahir. While the rural settlement may be small with just under 4,000 residents, it makes up for it with a towering 13th century castle. Embark on a medieval adventure at Cahir Castle.
The History of Cahir Castle
Tucked away behind rows of pastel storefronts stands a castle out of everyone’s fairy tales. The spiraling towers and soaring walls hide the castle’s violent past well. The battles fought at the castle were part of Ireland's final efforts to push out England during the Nine Years' War.
The castle was built on an island in the middle of the River Suir. The river creates a natural barrier while allowing for the transport of people and goods. Thanks to its landscape, the island was inhabited since the third century, long before castles were being built. It wasn’t until the Normans arrived in the 12th century that castles started dotting the Irish countryside.
Cahir Castle is located on an island in the River Suir.
Cahir Castle was built in the early 13th century, but its most famous inhabitants, the Butler family, didn’t come along until 1375. They owned the castle for almost 600 years until the last Lord Cahir died in 1961 and it was given over to the state. During that time, the castle was captured a handful of times, one of which occurred during the Nine Years’ War.
Eleanor Morrissey, site supervisor at Cahir Castle, said the castle was a location of many battles fought against England at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries.
“This period is the last-ditch effort by the Irish lords to reassert their independence against the crown,” Morrissey said.
Queen Elizabeth sent the Earl of Essex to take the castle in 1599. After three days of using heavy artillery on the east side, the earl captured the castle.
Jacob Goodrich talks about his interest in history inside the entrance to Cahir Castle.
This siege has attracted tourists from across the world to Cahir Castle. Jacob Goodrich, a U.S. tourist from Minnesota, said he is a history buff who enjoys learning about the castle’s history. He said his favorite part of the tourist site is an exhibition room that depicts the siege using miniature figurines.
“You actually get to see the breakdown,” Goodrich said. “Then it shows you how the English came into the castle.”
Goodrich said he appreciates how well Cahir Castle is preserved for tourists to come see a piece of Ireland’s history. He said he keeps track of his history back home, which gives him a further appreciation for what is being done at this castle.
“I’m Native American so I’ve followed a lot of my ancestry back where I come from,” Goodrich said. “Coming over here and seeing how important it is to them to follow their ancestry and how they keep track of it over here has been amazing.”
For Morrissey, she said it is important to preserve her Irish heritage and that she is proud her role working at Cahir Castle allows her to do that.
“I’m proud of the heritage that we have,” Morrissey said. “I think it’s important to present it to people so that they understand our history.”
Top 3 Must Dos
Drive along the M8 highway from either Cork or Dublin to the town of Cahir. It's one hour from Cork and two hours from Dublin.
Take the X8 bus from Cork Parnell Place Bus station to Cahir. The bus drops off right at the entrance to the castle.
It takes about an hour and a half to reach Cahir and the bus leaves every two hours.
Pro tip: You can hop back on the X8 bus to travel to Cashel, the stop after Cahir, to check out the Rock of Cashel.
Cahir Castle Info
Address: Castle St, Townparks, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
Phone: +353 (52) 744 1011
Cost: Adults - $4.52 (€4) Group/Senior - $3.39 (€3) Child/Student - $2.26 (€2)