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Cahir, Co. Tipperary, Eire. Maintained by the Commissioners of Public Works.
Cahir castle is built on a rocky island in the river Suir (the name is derived from the Gaelic Cathair, meaning stone fort). Although the island was fortified well before, most of the current castle was built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The castle was perhaps the strongest fortification in Ireland at the time of Tyrone's rebellion. In 1599, Queen Elizabeth sent the Earl of Essex at the head of an army to crush the rebellion, and in May of that year he took Cahir castle; the castle fell in three days, after the Earl's cannon and culverin (he had one of each) battered down substantial portions of the east wall.
The castle, though easily strong enough to stand against the normal raids, was very vulnerable to gunpowder. Thus, in 1650, when Cromwell appeared before Cahir and presented his usual offer to allow the garrison to "march away with your baggage, arms, and colours, free from injuries or violence," it appears that the garrison attempted no resistance.
The castle was allowed to fall into disrepair following the Civil War. In 1840, the Earl of Glengall had William Tinsley begin repairs, which continued through 1846; the work, unfortunately not accurate restoration, is responsible for much of the detailed appearance today.
Copyright © 1992, 1996, 1998, 2002 Leif Bennett. All rights reserved.