Monday, April 17, 2006

Cahir Castle

One of the biggest castles in Ireland, Cahir Castle was built in 1142 by Conor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, on an island in the river Suir. Now situated inside the town centre of Cahir, the castle is well preserved and has guided tour and audiovisual shows in multiple languages.
In 1375, the castle was granted to Butler, newly-created Baron of Cahir, for his loyalty to Edward III. The Butlers of Cahir sided with the Irish in the Elizabethan wars, and in 1599 the castle was captured after a three day siege by the army of the Earl of Essex.
In the Irish Confederate Wars in Ireland in the late 1640s that accompanied the English Civil War the castle was besieged twice. In 1647 George Mathews, the guardian of the young Lord Cahir, surrendered to Lord Inchiquin, after his victory at the battle of Knocknanauss. In 1650 he surrendered again to Oliver Cromwell, during his conquest of Ireland without a shot being fired.
The Great Hall was partly rebuilt in 1840.
In 1961 the last Lord Cahir died and the castle reverted to the state.
(thanks again Wiki)

The tour guide was telling us about how the Butler's changed their name (to that) when one of their kin became the King's Butler - it was a highly prestigious and valuable position. As well as offering the King his first glass of wine after the coronation and being involved in various rituals, they also looked after all the royal vinyards and got to tax wine import and exports.

The castle itself is fantastic. The guide is brilliant about discussing it's history and the way it changed over the centuries as warfare tactics changed also. It's also brilliant in that the castle is largely unchange - so no railings on the narrow steps up the battlements etc... and they're happy for you to scamper about as your heart takes you. You can still climb down into the dungeons and up onto the battlements. They're cells are real prisons though - cold, small, cramped and manky stone holdings; very different from the royal apartments at the Tower of London.


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