Cahir Castle is one of the largest and most iconic castles in Ireland. Situated on an island in the river Suir the majority of the core structure of the castle dates from the 13th century. Construction started in 1142 by the then King of Thomond, Conor O’Brien The name Cahir derives from the Irish for a stone fort, ‘Cathair’, its believed a fort may have been sited at the same place as the current castle. In 1192 the area around Cahir was granted to Philip of Worcester by John, Lord of Ireland, who would later become King John. In 1375 it was granted to James Butler, whom was given a new title ‘The Earl of Ormond’ for his loyalty to Edward III, King of England. This branch of the Butler family sided with the Catholic Irish during the Elizabethan wars and in 1599 the castle was captured after a five-day siege by the army of the Earl if Essex. Lord Caher joined with the Early of Tyrone Hugh O Neill in 1601 and was charged with treason when this rebellion failed, he later obtained a pardon. During the Irish Confederate Wars the castle was besieged twice more. In 1647 George Matthew, who was the guardian of the young Lord Caher, surrender to Murrough O’Brien, 6th Baron of Inchquin and a descendant of the original builder of the castle. In 1650 the castle was besieged once more by Oliver Cromwell but this siege ended without a shot being fired when George Matthew surrendered. The Butlers survived as Catholic peers until 1786 when James, 9th Lord Caher, died in France, this began the slow decline of the castle. Some work did take place parts of the structure on between 1846 and 1849. In 1961 the last Lord Caher died and the castle became the property of the Irish state. Due to its obvious picturesque qualities the castle has been used as a film location several times, the 1981 movie Excalibur was filmed here along with The Last Duel and episodes of the Tudors.
I visited this castle for the first time as a child in the late in 1980s and was completely enamoured with it. It hastened a love of history and a desire to document the places I visited. As a child I made a little scrapbook of places I visited with copies of the printed guides, ticket stubs, one or two photos and a history of the castle I typed up on my mother’s typewriter, an early precursor to this blog!
GPS: 52.3746, -7.9272