Saturday, 1 September 2012

Cahir Castle. Worth a visit

Cahir Castle
View from the outer ward.
 Once the stronghold of the powerful Butler family, Cahir Castle retains its impressive keep, tower and much of its original defensive structure. It is a fine example of a late Medieval Castle that had been enlarged and greatly remodelled in the 15th to 17th centuries and is one of Ireland's largest and best preserved castles. It is situated on a rocky island on the River Suir.

You can have a guided tour of the castle but I strolled around on my own, taking a look first at the various floors of the keep. I saw the mechanism for the winding gear for the portcullis and other artefacts.  Here too, you’ll find an exhibition on various Irish castles.

View from the Castle Street side
Soon, I came to the historic Banqueting Hall, partly furnished and totally impressive. Here, in 1541, a great pageant was staged and then, in 1652, a peace agreement was here signed between local leaders and Cromwellian commanders.

Next up was the 13th century North West Tower, with its “murder hole”. Not a place to go if you are an uninvited guest. Luckily, I had paid my 3 euro entry fee! From the top, and indeed from other parts of the ramparts, there are good views over the town and the river.

Banqueting Hall and NW Tower
 These largely 13th century buildings surround the inner ward, now  a green area. There is also a middle and an outer ward but, before visiting those, I took a look at two current exhibitions. One is on the position of women in medieval Ireland. Interestingly, the old Brehon law allowed divorce and property rights for women though men had the right to concubines.

Banqueting Hall interior
 In 1599, the forces of Queen Elizabeth attacked when the castle garrison refused to surrender to the Earl of Essex.  The short siege that followed is the subject of another exhibition and that includes a model of the siege.
Picture taken from outer ward
 In 1599, the forces of Queen Elizabeth attacked when the castle garrison refused to surrender to the Earl of Essex.  The short siege that followed is the subject of another exhibition and that includes a model of the siege.

After that, it was time to visit the outer ward and the more recent buildings around a larger green area. One the buildings here contains an excellent informative audio-visual account of the castle’s story.

All in all, a great visit and well worth the modest entry fee.

While in the area why not visit the nearby Swiss Cottage and the beautiful Glen of Aherlow. I stayed in the Aherlow House Hotel.

Detail

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