[Thursday - 11/14/02] Cahir Castle is a great 15th-century castle of the Butler family near the town center of Cahir where we stopped for lunch. Both Cahir Castle and the town lie about 15 km south of Cashel so it made for a great stop while journeying southwest. Unfortunately, because they are made of similar local stone, we kept blurring the two castles together later in the trip.
The Butlers were granted lands in the area in 1192, but they didn't build their first castle until the 13th century. The castle is in remarkable condition and one of the largest in Ireland. The inhabitants surrendered to Cromwell in 1650 without a struggle. Memories were fresh of the battering the place had suffered in 1599 at the hands of the Earl of Essex and his meager two cannons! It has been extensively restored and some of John Boorman's movie, Excalibur, was filmed in Cahir Castle.
The castle sits on a rocky island in the River Suir, and is comprised three sections, surrounded by a thick fortifying wall, with the main structural towers and hails around the innermost section. Entry to the castle is along the sloping tower that defends the entrance running parallel to the inner-section wall, and then through to the reception area. This opens out into the small middle section, over shadowed by the large gatehouse and keel to the right. Go through the gatehouse, under the reconstructed and fully functioning gate (or strong grating that can be closed), and you come to the inner section.
Beside the northeast tower is the small well tower which offers the best vantage point over the river. The tower spirals down to the river and could provide a vital water supply during an extended siege.
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