Cahir Castle – The Real Deal

In the 12th Century Conor O’Brien built a defensive structure on an original stone fortification called a Cathair – no prizes for  guessing where the name Cahir came from. Conor O’Brien at the time was the King of Munster (Southern Ireland). With natural rock on a river bend, it was a natural position to build a settlement. 

Conor wasn’t a man to mess about, he built a state of art (in the 13th Century) piece of work that’s still in excellent condition today. Lets see how your apartment holds up in 700 years time.

Conor finished his masterpiece just in time to hand it over to the Norman invasion in the late 12th Century. However just like in Britain, those northern French nomads seeking land and power, the Norman knights swept across the country.

By 1375 Cahir Castle was gifted to the Butler clan who’d partaken in the Norman invasion and had their seat of power in Kilkenny castle. Through good and bad the family held on to the castle for a solid 600 years until the final descendant passed away in 1961 and the castle was handed over to the state.

Now its restored, open, easy to get to. As one of the finest and largest castles in Ireland it’s not hard to miss in the center of the town. If you failed to notice it then maybe castles just aren’t your thing.

From the car park follow the imposing curtain walls across the bridge to the entrance where you can see the castle actually rise out of the original rocky outcrop.

Once inside, you will find an outer and inner ward. Unsurprisingly you’ll find a middle ward in between these. There is not much going on in the middle ward apart from the toilets so we’ll move quickly to the more interesting inner ward.

The Inner Ward

To access the inner ward you pass under the portcullis of a wonderfully angry looking portcullis gateway. The murder holes for eyes are so big you could actually throw the kitchen sink down on someone below.

The North East Tower

As you pass under the double gates into the inner ward you will see the North-East Tower straight ahead. This tower has a prominent position overlooking the bridge to keep an eye on what the locals are up to.

The North West Tower

Across from this, surprise, surprise, is the North West Tower. This originally named tower was designed to be defendable if the rest of the castle ever fell into enemy hands. Basically if the North East Tower failed to do its job.

The Great Hall

The rest of the castle is fully open. Butted up against the North West Tower is the Great Hall which was handy for diners looking for a quick escape under attack.

The Keep

Bang in in the center of the site is the Keep, the strongest building within the walls was a home for the ruling family. You can now run up and down the stone stairs exploring and there is a exhibition showing other castles worth a visit – although some are in ruins.

The Outer Ward

A wander out into the garden of the Outer Ward will give a good sense of the scale of the castle as you look back. You’ll notice the foundations of the dividing wall here is the original rocky outcrop the castle was built on. Or maybe you won’t.

This was a full battle castle and taking your time you’ll see lots of defensive features looking around the buildings closely.


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