My husband and I had a trip booked to Ireland in June 2020. Due to Covid, the trip never happened. For a myriad of reasons, it’s a trip that likely won’t happen any time soon. I’ve pulled up my old itinerary, and I’m going to explore as much of this holiday as virtually as I can! Please visit my BLOG page for previous entries.
DAY 7: take bus X8 from Cashel to CAHIR (10a-1025a) / day trip (return 519p-544p)
GOAL: Today’s goal was to learn about Cahir, a scenic town overlooking the banks of the River Suir in south County Tipperary.
For much of its history, the town has been influenced by the Butler family. It was from this family that the first Barons of Cahir were created. It was known for much of its history as being a defense town. In 1543, King Henry the Eight made Thomas Butler Lord Baron of Cahir, as a reward for his loyalty . This period also witnessed the dissolution of the monasteries and lands were granted to the Butlers. They then consolidated their holdings and built tower-houses all around Cahir.
Cahir Castle, one of the largest ancient castles in Ireland is one of the best-preserved standing castles of Ireland. It was built originally on a site of an earlier native fortification called a cathair (stone fort), which gave its name to the place. NOTE: Cahir is pronounced as “Kare.” Here is a good blog post about the city that I found.
At the time of building, Cahir Castle was at the cutting edge of defensive castle design and much of the original structure remains, such as a functioning portcullis and well preserved dungeons.
Cahir Castle was said to be the most impregnable medieval Irish castle. It was built by the Butler family after they were granted this area in 1375 and it held out for six hundred years. The castle was built on top of a huge rock formation in order to prevent it from being undermined by potential attackers. Here is a fantastic blog post describing the details of the castle. The castle is exceptionally well preserved and lovingly maintained right down to the cannonball still embedded in the castle walls.
By 1700 a sizable town had grown around the castle. Milling, agriculture and a range of trades brought industry to the muddy streets. At this time the quakers had a strong foothold in the town and the castle was let to William Fennell where he resided and kept a small wool industry. Cahir house was built in the 1770’s as well as the Manor Mills, The Suir Mills and the Cahir Abbey Mills in the period 1775-90.
WALK TO THE SWISS COTTAGE
When finished with Castle, we were going to walk 2 km on a picturesque path to the Swiss Cottage.
The walk is lined with a wide variety of trees such as lime, holly, ash, cypress and sycamore.
Built in 1810 by the Earl of Glengall, this ornamental cottage was designed by the famous Regency architect John Nash. It’s a fanciful realization of an idealized countryside cottage used for picnics, small soirees and fishing and hunting parties and was also a peaceful retreat for those who lived in the nearby big house. Inside, there is a graceful spiral staircase and some exquisitely decorated rooms. The wallpaper is partly original and partly the fruit of a 1980s restoration project.
BEYOND THE PALE
A random thing that I learned during my research was where the term “beyond the pale” came from. To be ‘beyond the pale’ is to be unacceptable; outside agreed standards of decency. But where did that term come from?
The Pale was the part of Ireland directly under the control of the English government in the Late Middle Ages. The Pale was a strip of land, centred on Dublin, that stretched from Dundalk in Louth to Dalkey in Dublin; it became the base of English rule in Ireland. The Lordship controlled by the English king shrank accordingly, and as parts of its perimeter in counties Meath and Kildare were fenced or ditched, it became known as the Pale, deriving from the Latin word palus, a stake. Within the confines of the Pale, the leading gentry and merchants lived lives not too different from those of their counterparts in England, save for the constant fear of attack from the Gaelic Irish. To live beyond the pale meant that you were essentially a savage.
Next up: CORK.