Cahir Castle County Tipperary Ireland: best medieval castle in Ireland

Cahir Castle is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Ireland and it was built in the thirteenth century. But visiting Cahir Castle is not on most tourists’ bucket lists. This is a shame because Cahir Castle and the Swiss Cottage and the village of Cahir are one of Ireland’s most charming areas and they are only a few miles away from the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary and relatively free of tourist crowds.

By the way, Cahir pronunciation is Kare – I made this mistake and was quickly put on the right pronunciation path.

Cahir Castle Ireland: best medieval castle in Ireland

Tip: If you go to any OPW managed Heritage Site in Ireland on the first Wednesday of the month it’s FREE!

Tipperary is a gorgeous place to settle in Ireland if you have ever dreamed of living here Tip might be a good choice. It’s quite rural in areas but beautifully peaceful and yet there are some really good-sized cities to explore. It’s also very easy to get from Tipperary to some beautiful historic sites, for example, the Rock of Cashel, or how about exploring Limerick and the Milk Market or go walking and discover some of the legends of the fairy mounds of Ireland. Kilkenny is just a short drive away and Dublin is only two hours distance.

portcullis of Cahir castle this is Ireland's only working portcullis which is a wooden gate with sharp stakes at the end of the gate's vertical slats. Reinforced with steel tips.

Planning your dream trip to Ireland? Here’s all you need to know

Getting to Cahir Castle 

Where is Cahir in Ireland?

Cahir is a charming town located in Cahir, a scenic town overlooking the banks of the River Suir in south County Tipperary Ireland. It’s renowned for its historical significance, scenic beauty, and vibrant community atmosphere. Cahir boasts a picturesque location along the banks of the River Suir, providing residents and visitors alike with stunning views and opportunities for leisurely walks or riverfront picnics. The nearby Galtee Mountains and the Knockmealdown Mountains offer outdoor enthusiasts opportunities for hiking, biking, and exploring nature.

You can take a bus to Cahir from Dublin and the journey time is around 2.5 hours. The cost ranges from €16 and up for a return.

The train journey, unfortunately, takes around 3.5 hours and just isn’t worth the hassle. Driving from Dublin will take just over an hour. Don’t be afraid to rent a car for driving outside Dublin it’s easy to get used to the roads and roundabouts and makes it so much easier to get off the beaten path.

Cahir Castle Village

Ticket costs for Cahir Castle and entry hours 

Admission Fees

Adult: €5.00 
Group/Senior: €4.00 
Child/Student: €3.00 
Family: €13.00 

Please note there are no credit or debit card facilities at this site.

Cahir Castle tours

Rock of Cashel, Cahir & Blarney Castle Private Sightseeing Day Tour from Dublin

Take a day trip from Dublin to Cahir Castle, Blarney Castle and Gardens, and Rock of Cashel with this private tour. You and your group of six others will board a luxury, air-conditioned vehicle en route to these stunning destinations. Enjoy complimentary bottled water and use the onboard Wi-Fi to upload photos to your social media. End your trip with a free visit to Blarney Woollen Mills.

Cahir Castle History

Cahir village is a unique Medieval town with the astoundingly beautiful Cahir Castle situated on a tiny island in the River Suir. It was built in the 1100s and is one of the largest and best-preserved castles in Ireland. According to the ancient Book of Lecan, a fort was destroyed on this site in the 3rd century.  There’s also evidence that Brian Boru (926 to 1014) had a house here.

Cahir Castle Ireland: best medieval castle 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.

mechanism to raise and lower the portcullis at cahir castle

Cahir Castle 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). 

Cahir Castle in Tipperary

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.

interior of cahir castle

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.

The siege of Cahir

At the time of building, Cahir Castle was at the cutting edge of defensive castle design and much of the original structure remains. The Castle was built to be an extremely safe stronghold. It was said to be the most impregnable castle in Ireland. In 1375, James Butler, who had recently been appointed Baron of Cahir, was given ownership of the castle as a reward for his allegiance to Edward III. During the Elizabethan wars, the Butlers of Cahir supported the Irish cause and in 1599, the castle was seized by the army of the Earl of Essex following a three day siege. Sir Charles Blount was then placed in charge of the castle for a year. Queen Elizabeth I sent the Earl of Essex to Ireland in 1599 with the aim of defeating Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone.

Cahir Castle in Tipperary

In 1650, during the Irish Confederate wars Oliver Cromwell and his forces demanded the surrender of the castle and besieged it – they were handed the Castle without a shot being fired. Imagine standing in a place where Cromwell and others stood all those years ago.

Cahir Castle defenses

Cahir Castle sits on a rocky island called (obviously) Cahir Island in the River Suir, a location that was chosen for its natural defences when Conor O’Brien constructed the castle in 1142. The River Suir flows alongside the castle replete with lovely swans and ducks and a gorgeous riverside walk.

Granted to the powerful Butler family in late 14th century, the castle was enlarged and remodelled between the 15th and 17th centuries. The Butler family played a significant role in Irish history, particularly in relation to Cahir Castle in County Tipperary, Ireland. The Butlers were an influential Anglo-Norman family who arrived in Ireland during the Norman invasion of the 12th century. They became one of the most powerful families in Ireland, holding extensive lands and castles.

Cahir Castle, situated on an island in the River Suir, was one of the strongholds controlled by the Butlers. The castle was originally built in the 13th century, and it served as the seat of power for the Butler family for centuries. It played a strategic role in various conflicts and wars throughout Irish history.

Cahir Castle Film and TV locations

In the 70’s Stanley Kubrick used the castle as a setting for his film Barry Lyndon. Cahir was also featured in John Boorman’s film Excalibur and The Tudors TV show. to more recent epics like David Lowery’s The Green Knight and Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel.

Cahir Village

Cahir Castle Ireland: best medieval castle in Ireland

The village is a lovely place to stay for a day or so, explore the pubs take some walks through Glengarra Wood or book a guided tour of the incredible Mitchelstown Caves. Trek into the hills of the magnificent Galtee Mountains for sensational panoramic views, or simply walk from Cahir Castle to the gorgeous Swiss Cottage.

Cahir Castle walk

The Cahir Castle walk to the Swiss Cottage is 4km from the castle. Lasting about 38 minutes, you can enjoy a 4km walk from Cahir Castle towards charming Swiss Cottage.

swiss cottage

Cahir a Butler Stronghold

Cahir Castle and Cahir village were granted to James 3rd Earl of Ormond, the head of the Butler family. The castle at Cahir apart from a few short periods stayed in the Butler Family for six hundred years.

The Butler family came to Ireland in the late 12th century. Theobald Fitzwalter was the Butler family ancestor who arrived in Ireland as part of the Norman invasion. He later married Strongbow’s daughter Isabel. They built Cahir Castle in the early 13th century.

Cahir Castle Ireland: best medieval castle in Ireland

Cahir remained in the Butler family until 1650 when Oliver Cromwell arrived in Ireland. The Butlers surrendered the castle but 12 years later gained control over it again.

Cahir Castle Today

Cahir was bought by the State and was declared a National Monument in 1964. Beautifully restored it now contains several genuine pieces of furniture from the middle ages.

The castle’s stunning features include cannons, superb crenelations and a working portcullis.

Cahir Castle is an OPW Heritage site, as is the nearby Swiss Cottage which can be reached via the 4km ‘Coronation Walk’ or by car.

The cost for a tour of the castle or simply to go around yourself is around €5 Euros but on Wednesdays, the Trust opens the Castle for tours for free. The tours of Cahir Castle are self-guided and you can spend a good hour or two here before you head back to the Village for a pint.

This is one of the largest and most striking of the castles of Ireland, with stunning features such as a working portcullis, cannons, and beautiful crenelations.

Cahir Castle in Tipperary

Cahir Castle exhibits

The lower levels of Cahir Castle contain a variety of exhibits from Medieval Women to the 1916 Irish Rebellion.

Cahir Castle Ireland: best medieval castle in Ireland

I hope you enjoyed your visit to one of the most interesting medieval cities in Ireland and its castle. If you want to learn about more castles and places to visit in Ireland? Here is some more reading for you.

16 Haunted Castles in Ireland

Fethard – Ancient Walls and Sheela na Gigs in Tipperary

33 of the most fabulous Hotel Castles to stay in Ireland

Visiting Bunratty Castle Ireland

Carrickfergus Castle

101 Landmarks in Ireland to see

101 Landmarks in Northern Ireland

Dunluce Castle Ireland – a romantic Irish ruin

Ireland’s Ancient East – an epic road trip

Ultimate Wild Atlantic Way Route


  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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