Tipperary is home to some of Ireland’s most iconic ruins, castles and historic sites. Cahir Castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Ireland. Literally a walk away from the Castle is Swiss Cottage a beautifully romantic little “cottage” near the Cahir River that was so neglected and run down for many years that a horse was found stabled in the dining room. This cottage is believed to have been designed by the great architect John Nash.
Which is pronounced as care is a unique Medieval town with an astoundingly beautiful castle situated on a tiny island in the Suir River. It was built in the 1100’s and is one of the largest castles in Ireland. There isn’t much furniture in the castle but it is a fascinating tour and you can see things like the old portcullis and its mechanism and go up to the higher floors and see out to the town and across the river.
Cahir is believed to have been built in the 13th century on the site of an earlier Irish stone fort known as Cathair Dún Iascaigh (the Stone Fort of the Fortress of the Fishery). According to the 17th century historian Geoffrey Keating, the stone fort of Dún Iascaigh was one of the ancient royal residences of the kings of Munster before the arrival of Christianity. It is from the word ‘cathair’ that the town’s name comes from.
The Castle is quite an imposing site, set on a smallish island in the middle of the river, you can see why it was built as it appears to be quite easily defensible. The castle is in excellent condition thanks to extensive renovations that took place in the 19th century. In the 70’s Stanley Kubrick used the castle as a setting for his film Barry Lyndon.
In 1650 Oliver Cromwell and his forces demanded the surrender of the castle and it was given without a shot being fired. Imagine standing in the place where Cromwell and others stood all those years ago.
Cost for a tour of the castle or simply to go round yourself is around €5 Euros but on Wednesdays the Trust opens the Castle for tours for free.
Cahir is also home to the Swiss Cottage which was built in the 1800’s as a country retreat as the style is known as “Cottage Orne” which really means ornamental.
The 2km walk or a short drive to Swiss Cottage is highly recommended. It is believed to have been designed by the famous architect John Nash. The cottage is quite lovely with its thatched roof and climbing flower trellises. It was left to rack and ruin for years but has been renovated and refurbished in the 1980’s. It is surprisingly small with only 2 rooms up and 2 rooms down, but the basement hides the kitchens and the servants rooms. Cost to view the cottage and have a tour is €4 Euros, but on some days the Trust has free entry so keep an eye out for that and you can visit the Cottage and Cahir Castle for no charge.
Lots more to read on Tipperary and Ireland’s Ancient East here.
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