After visiting Cahir Castle, a fort on the River Suir in Cahir in County Tipperary, Ireland. I felt inspired to do my own version of tourist speak with a list of 10 highlights that make this beautiful castle worth the trip. If you think you know all there is to know about it, this list might just surprise you with its depth and breadth.
1. It is not just a castle, it is a castle town
The town of Cahir itself is an exceptional place to visit and explore the history of Cahir Castle. The medieval streets, the buildings and the character of the town are fascinating to walk around. With it’s stone walls and cobble stones you would be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back in time. In fact, Cahir was originally built to defend itself against marauding invaders during the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169-1171.
2. It was built by a Norman Lord
Cahir Castle was originally built in the late 12th century by William FitzAdelm de Burgh, who together with his brother Hubert were known as the ‘red’ and ‘white’ knights of Carrick. Their clan was an Anglo-Norman family from Norfolk. He did this during a time when most of Ireland and its people were under Norman control. In fact, Cahir Castle is one of only two castles in Ireland that belong to this era. The other is Bunratty Castle in County Clare.
3. The castle was later owned by a Guinness
The Guinness family inherited it in 1596 and it was inhabited by them until 1755. It remained unoccupied for the next 100 years and gradually fell into disrepair. In 1856, the decision was made to restore it to its original glory. The restoration was completed in 1877 under the guidance of Richard Poer Beresford, the second Baron Decies (1830-1909).
4. It’s not just about the Castle
Cahir Castle has an amazing garden attached to it that offers a wide array of flora not found anywhere else in Ireland. There is even a section of the garden that is dedicated to plants that are traditionally used to dress wounds.
5. It has some amazing architecture
The most impressive parts of Cahir Castle are its keep, its gatehouse and the four round towers at each corner of the castle. The original castle was built with only three round towers, one at each corner with a larger rectangular keep in between them. This was later extended with a fourth tower when it became the home of the Guinness family.
6. It’s a great place to visit at night
The castle opens its doors every Thursday evening for twilight tours and lots of spooky events. This is a great opportunity to be able to experience the castle in a way you won’t get by day. It’s also a chance to take some fantastic twilight photography in the grounds of this stunning castle.
7. Cahir Castle was never actually attacked
It is surprising that one of Ireland’s biggest Norman castles with over 20 acres of land and 200 rooms was never actually attacked or besieged, given its position close to the border with Kilkenny, where most invasions happened. One explanation for this is that Cahir Castle was built so strong that it was never seen as a viable target. However, it has witnessed battles nearby. It has also been subjected to numerous sieges and storms over the years, although none of these were ever successful in taking it from its owners.
8. It’s not going anywhere for a while
The castle is currently owned by the Barrow family who bought it in 1954 and have continually renovated and restored the castle to its current glory, taking care to preserve all of its original history along the way. The castle today is one of Ireland most visited tourist attractions with guided tours available throughout the year.
9. In Cahir there is a secret passageway
Cahir Castle has the largest privately owned and fully restored medieval town in Ireland. However, it is also home to a secret tunnel that runs between the castle and the town. It was built by the Guinness family to make it easier to move from one place to another while avoiding the stress of travelling through a busy market town during market days. The tunnel is no longer open for public access but it still exists and can be seen from above when visiting these two historic destinations in County Tipperary.
10. It’s open every day
The castle and grounds are open all year round with longer opening hours from May to September. It is a three story building that offers a must-visit location for anyone visiting County Tipperary. However, don’t be fooled by its exterior, the castle offers much more than just towering walls and turrets. There is so much to see and do and well worth a visit. In fact, it has been voted Ireland’s best attraction in 2018 by Tripadvisor users.
Check the Cahir Castle website for more information on opening hours and events throughout the year.
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