Cahir Castle (Irish: Caisleán na Cathrach) is an early 13th century Medieval Irish castle in the town of Cahir in southern Ireland. The castle is located on a rocky island on the River Suir and is one of Ireland’s largest and best-preserved castles.
Cahir castle is the perfect quintessential medieval castle: it’s sturdy and lacking in fuss and frills. You can literally feel the history oozing from its stone walls. Its architecture is slightly fanciful and although it once bravely protected those within from enemy attack, it still has a storybook feel to it. Round castle turrets, ominous looking portcullis, a moat, and winding staircases…a castle fit for any fairy tale!
Cahir feels so much like Camelot, of King Arthur fame, that it’s been the choice to represent the legendary court in various shows and films like the popular TV series “The Tudors.”
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Table of Contents
Exploring Cahir Castle Ireland
The first thing visitors encounter at Cahir castle is the moat that actually has water in it, which is fairly unusual. The moat has some resident geese that really add to the charm.
There’s a beautiful wooden door that leads to the grand entrance to the castle.
The Great Hall
One of the most impressive of the castle’s attractions / features is the Great Hall, which has a beautiful, vaulted wood ceiling and a large fireplace. This room puts me in mind of a grand hunting hall, and I can picture the room filled with knights and maidens dining on wild game.
more of the castle interior
The castle also has several towers, including the round tower, which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Castle Gardens and courtyard
Another highlight of the castle is the beautiful gardens. The gardens are located in the castle courtyard, and they offer a peaceful and tranquil setting for visitors to relax and enjoy the scenery. The gardens and castle grounds are filled with beautiful flowers, trees, and shrubs. It’s a serene setting.
The roses in the gardens really pop against the gray rock of the castle walls. We visited the castle in the month of May and the rose bushes were in full bloom.
cutting edge of defensive castle design
At the time of building this formidable fortress was at the cutting edge of defensive design. Cahir is surrounded by a thick defensive curtain wall designed to withstand heavy artillery. To further protect from invasion any attacker would have to get through three key defensive zones – the Outer Ward, the Middle Ward and the Inner Ward.
As you explore the castle look for defensive structures such as murder holes (machicolation, where defenders could throw down rocks or boiling oil on any attackers, portcullis (iron gates to keep intruders out, this castle has one of the only working examples in Ireland, canons and more!
information on visiting
Opening Hours (2023)
Cahir Castle is open to visitors every day all year round, except: Closed: 24th – 31st December
Mid October – February
Daily 9:30 – 16:30
Last Admission 15:45
March – Mid June
Daily 9:30 – 17:30
Last Admission 16:45
Mid June – August
Daily 9:00 – 18:30
Last Admission 17:45
Sept – Mid October
Daily 9:30 – 17:30
Last Admission 16:45
Note: Opening hours vary depending on the season, and unexpected closings can occur, so it is advisable to check the official website or call ahead before planning a visit.
prices / admission (2023)
Ticket prices include the guided tour. I recommend taking the guided tour. Knowledgeable guides provide valuable insights into the castle’s history, architecture, and significance.
Heritage Card: This is a OPW Heritage site. You may save money by purchasing Ireland’s Heritage card that gets you free admission into many of Ireland’s best attractions, including Cahir Castle Ireland. See the official website to check prices and see what’s included.
Advance tickets (purchase online)
A limited number of tickets are available for purchase online. If you are attempting to purchase online tickets and your date/time are sold out there are still tickets available for purchase on site.
Whether you are participating in the guided tour or elect to do the self-tour you’ll want to stop and pick up a leaflet/guidebook, which is available in English, Irish, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
Excellent Audio-visual show: Consider checking out the excellent audiovisual show on your visit to Chair Castle, which informs visitors about its eventful history.
The guided tour of the castle lasts approximately 30-40 minutes.
Guided tours are led by knowledgeable and friendly guides who can provide visitors with a wealth of information about the castle’s long history and architecture and provide a glimpse into what life was like in medieval times.
Tours include a visit to the deep, dark prison dungeons and a climb up the spiral staircases to the top of the castle’s towers. The castle tour provides an opportunity to learn about the history of the castle and the people who lived there, including the Butlers of Cahir, who were one of the most influential families in Irish history.
The guided tours are an excellent way to get the most out of a visit to Cahir Castle.
If you prefer, visitors can explore the castle on their own. Don’t forget to pick up a brochure and detailed travel guide at the ticket office to help guide you around the castle.
can’t get to Cahir just yet? Enjoy this virtual tour instead!
Need to know information about visiting
There are bathrooms both at the castle and near the parking lot / car park.
Crowd beating tips
Cahir wasn’t particularly crowded on our visit but who doesn’t like to have a place like this almost to themselves? Without the crowds you can really take a place in, feel it, and Cahir castle has a great feel!
The general rule of thumb for avoiding the worst crowds at popular tourist attractions are:
- The best time to visit? early morning or late in the day (i.e., the first or last tour of the day)
- Weekdays are often less crowded than weekends.
- Travel in the shoulder or off season: Summer months are peak season / high season, spring and fall are considered shoulder seasons, and winter months are off season in Ireland.
History of Cahir Castle Ireland
A bit of castle history for you history buffs:
Cahir Castle has a rich and fascinating history that spans over 800 years. Construction of the castle began in 1142 under Conor O’Brien, Prince of Thomond, on behalf of the King of Munster. The original structure was a simple wooden fortress. The original defensive structure was later rebuilt in stone and became a stronghold of the powerful Butler family. During the Middle Ages, an impressive gatehouse and a number of towers and battlements were added.
In 1375, (late 14th century) when Ireland was under English rule, the castle was granted to Earl James Butler, for his loyalty to the English Crown, Edward III King of England. The powerful Anglo-Norman family found themselves on the wrong side during the Elizabethan wars. In 1599 the castle met with heavy artillery for the first time, and the castle was captured after a three-day siege by the army of the Earl of Essex, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth.
During the Irish Confederate Wars the castle was besieged twice. In 1650, George Mathews, surrendered the castle to Oliver Cromwell, during the Cromwellian Wars.
The castle was heavily damaged during the siege, but it was later restored by the Butler family. The castle was further expanded in the 15th and 16th centuries. By 1599, the castle had reached its present appearance, with the only subsequent alterations taking place in the 1840s.It fell into ruin in the late 18th century and was partially restored to its present appearance in the 1840s. Possession of the castle remained with the Butler family until the 20th century.
In 1961, the last Lord Cahir died, and the castle reverted to the State. In the 20th century, the castle was named a National Monument of Ireland, taken over by the Irish government and opened to the public. Cahir Castle is managed by the Office of Public Works.
Television and movies: Many films and television shows have been filmed at Cahir Castle including among others: Excalibur (1981), The Tudors, and The Last Duel.
How to get to Cahir Castle
Cahir Castle is located in the village of Cahir (An Chathair), County Tipperary, Ireland. Visitors can easily reach the castle by car, bus, or train.
Cork (ORK) 84 km
Shannon (SNN) 89 km
Dublin (DUB) 200 km
Waterford (WAT) 75 km
Whether you are on a road trip or traveling by public transportation, Cahir is an easy day trip from several larger Irish cities:
Cork (84 km)
Cobh (86 km)
Limerick (70 km)
Kilkenny (70 km)
Waterford (75 km)
Dublin (200 km)
Galway (170 km)
The castle is situated on Castle Street in Cahir, which is easily accessible from the N24 main road.
Address: Castle St, Townparks, Cahir, Co. Tipperary
GPS Coordinates: 52.37507109071789, -7.927139473013429
If you are driving, there is a car park / parking lot located just outside of the castle. Bring coins and pay at the meter.
Cahir Castle is easily accessible by public transportation. Seamlessly plan your train and bus travel with the Rome2Rio website or app.
Nearest train station: Cahir Townparks Railway Station is located in the centre of Cahir Town (10-minute walk from Cahir Castle)
The bust stop in Cahir is a 1-minute walk to the castle. Direct buses from Dublin and Cork.
If you would rather join a tour there’s a day tour from Dublin that stops at Cahir Castle, as well as the famous Rock of Cashel and Blarney Castle.
Book it here on Get Your Guide!
where to stay
I like to search for accommodations on Booking.com (if you use this link when you’re ready to book I get a small commission which helps me fund this website!)
If you are looking for recommendations here are a couple area options: (prices are based on double occupancy)
Cahir House Hotel
is located on the town square in the adorable and oh so Irish town of Cahir. Prices starting at: $109 per night guest rating: 8.1 distance from Cahir Castle: 210 meters (a 3-minute walk)
Is a country retreat surrounded by picturesque farmland and mountains. It’s located just 2.3 km from the Swiss Cottage and offers paid airport shuttle service. prices starting at: $98 per night. Guest rating: 9.3
want to stay in a castle???
I have an entire article dedicated to affordable Irish Castles to stay in overnight but there’s one just down the road!
This one is a bit of a splurge but worth it! Cozy medieval castle tower Tybroughney was built in 1462 (over 500 years old!) and is situated on the banks of the River Suir, located on a working dairy farm.
Rent a private room, choose the vaulted suite or the Queen suite. Distance: 43 km Prices starting at: Price: starting at $312 guest rating: 5 out of 5
Tybroughney Castle can be booked on Airbnb
where to eat
My favorite place to search for the best places to eat is Tripadvisor. You get customer review ratings and lots of photos!
Here are the best worthwhile attractions in the area:
I bet you didn’t expect to find a Swiss Chalet type cottage in Ireland! The nearby Swiss Cottage is a charming 19th-century cottage, and just a 4 minute drive from the castle. Built in the style of a Swiss chalet, the cottage was originally used as a hunting lodge and summer residence. Visitors can tour the interior of the cottage, which is filled with period furnishings and decorations, and explore the surrounding gardens and woodland. Admission to the cottage is by guided tour only, and tickets can be purchased on-site.
Take the 2.2 km Coronation River Walk through the forest to the Swiss Cottage from Cahir. Magical!
Distance: 2.2 km
Cahir is a charming town that is located just a short distance from the castle. Visitors can take a stroll through the town and explore its various gift shops, cafes, and restaurants.
One of the main attractions in Cahir is the Cahir Farmers Market. This market is held every Saturday from 9:00 – 13:00 and offers visitors the chance to sample and purchase a variety of locally-produced goods, including fresh produce, artisanal bread, and handmade crafts.
Cahir Abbey Ruins
The Priory of St. Mary in Cahir, known as Cahir Abbey, was a medieval Gothic priory that was established in the late 12th century AD. The abbey is located 600 metres north of Cahir Castle on the west bank of the River Suir and has been declared a National Monument of Ireland.
The Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey
Was the ancient royal residences of the Kings of Munster from 300-1100 A.D. and is just a short drive away. Today the hill is topped with a 12th-century Romanesque chapel and a 13th-century Gothic cathedral. Don’t miss the Hore Abbey medieval monastery ruins just down the hill.
Distance: 19 km
Get more information: How to see the Legendary Rock of Cashel
Mitchelstown Cave is a stunning limestone cave located in County Tipperary, Ireland.
Distance: 16 km
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to visit Cahir Castle?
While the guided tour takes only about 30 minutes, visitors can spend about 1 to 1.5 hours exploring the castle and its surroundings, a couple of hours if you really linger. If you have a lot of time in your schedule there’s a forest path along the river that leads to the Swiss Cottage.
Is it necessary to book in advance to visit Cahir Castle?
It is not necessary to book in advance to visit Cahir Castle. Visitors can purchase tickets on-site. However, during peak season, it is recommended to arrive early to avoid long queues.
Is Cahir Castle worth it?
If you love history and a castle that feels old & ancient then yes, Cahir Castle is worth visiting! Although this castle might be considered a little plain, a little bare, it just has an amazing feel. I give it 10/10!
Are pets allowed at Cahir Castle?
Service animals only. If you have your pet along, I’d suggest Googling pet groomers in Cahir and dropping your four legged friend off for a spa day while you visit the castle!
Is Cahir Castle Accessible?
Cahir Castle is a historic building and, as such, may not be fully accessible to visitors with mobility issues. Visitors should note that there is limited access for wheelchairs to some parts of the castle. However, the ground floor and courtyard are accessible, and with prior arrangement, the staff is always available to assist visitors with mobility issues. Contact the property for further information regarding accessibility.
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