Nenagh Castle is the remains of one of the towers that would have been attached to the curtain wall of this early 13th century castle. Construction began on the castle under the direction of Theobald FitzWalter le Boteler, the 1st Baron Butler and was completed after his early death by his son Theobald le Botiller, also know as Theobald Butler, 2nd Baron Butler, and was completed around the year 1220. The first Baron Butler had arrived in Ireland in 1185 in the royal entourage of Prince John (later King John), son of King Henry II who had been appointed Lord of Ireland. Before Prince John left Ireland in 1185 he granted the lands around north Tipperary to Theobald, however these lands were still controlled by Donal Mór O’Brien who held them until his death in 1194. Donal Mór had kept the Anglo-Normans out of North Munster for 25 years but on his passing Theobald took the area and made Nenagh the seat of the Butler family. The Butlers ruled most of the area surrounding Nenagh and the castle served as their main base until 1391 when they moved to Gowran, County Kilkenny and later Kilkenny Castle. Part of the reason they moved to Kilkenny was due to the ongoing conflict with the O’ Kennedy Clan. In 1336 a peace treaty had been signed by James Butler, 1st Earl of Ormond with the O’ Kennedys, succeeding lands to the them in the process. However 11 years after following this treaty the O’Kennedys, O’Briens and O’Carrolls broke the terms and attacked the castle, unsuccessfully, however burning of the town of Nenagh. The town of Nenagh was attacked and burned again by the O’Carrolls and in 1641 it was attacked again and captured by Owen Roe O’Neill, but was retaken by Earl Inchquin the following year.
In 1651 the castle was attacked by Oliver Crowell’s deputy in Ireland, Henry Ireton. The castle was burned again by Patrick Sarsfield in 1688 during the Williamite Wars and following this the castle was dismantled so that it would be not used in any future conflicts. In 1861 the mock crenulations were added under the direction of Bishop Michael Flannery. Flannery’s intention was that the keep would become the bell tower of the new cathedral which in the end was never built.
The tower that now remains is one of four towers which would have been attached to the curtain wall and surrounded by a five-sided courtyard. The castle also had a twin towered southern gateway , the keep that would have been positioned on the northern corner of the pentagon is still well preserved and this gateway can be seen from carpark near the castle. It would be excellent to see this repaired and renovated and I would think that perhaps the castle should ask for a small amount of money for entry (currently its free) to raise funds for this, or even donations as it would be fantastic to see this happen.
GPS: 52.86491, -8.19801