Kilcash Castle

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Kilcash Castle
Kilcash Castle2.jpg
Kilcash Castle ruin
Location5 miles (8 km) east of Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland
Coordinates52°23′52″N 7°31′17″W / 52.39778°N 7.52139°W / 52.39778; -7.52139Coordinates: 52°23′52″N 7°31′17″W / 52.39778°N 7.52139°W / 52.39778; -7.52139
Built16th century
Kilcash Castle is located in Ireland
Kilcash Castle
Location of Kilcash Castle in Ireland

Kilcash Castle is a ruined castle off the N24 road just west of Ballydine in County Tipperary, Ireland. It is in the care of the Irish State. The Butler dynasty has important links to the area.


Castle tower

The main castle building is a fortified tower[1] dating from the sixteenth-century.[2] An adjoining hall was added at a later date, when the need for defence gave way to the large windows associated with settled times.[3] In the sixteenth century the manor of Kilcash passed from the Wall family into the possession of the Butlers of Ormond. The latter sold the castle to the Irish State in 1997 for £500.[4]

In 1614, Walter, 11th Earl of Ormond, who lived at Kilcash, inherited the Ormond title from his uncle Thomas, 10th Earl of Ormond. The possession of the Ormond lands was disputed and Walter spent 1619-1625 in prison in London while James VI and I pressurised him to surrender most of his property. Walter passed the manor of Kilcash on to one of his grandsons, Colonel Richard Butler of Kilcash (d. 1701).

The 3rd Earl of Castlehaven, a noted Confederate Catholic commander in the 1641-52 wars, frequently stayed at Kilcash where his sister, Lady Frances, was married to Richard of Kilcash, another confederate commander. Lord Castlehaven wrote his memoirs there (published as The Earl of Castlehaven's Review).

In the 19th century, the castle fell into ruin after parts of the Kilcash Estate were sold c. 1800. During the Irish Civil War, the castle was occupied by Anti-Treaty forces in an attempt to slow the approach of Pro-Treaty forces towards Clonmel. They were finally dislodged by artillery fire under the command of Commandant-General John T. Prout, further damaging the already dilapidated structure.[5]

By the late twentieth century, the castle was in a dangerous state of repair. Beginning in 2011, the castle underwent extensive repairs to prevent it from collapsing.[6]


Near the castle are the remains of a medieval church consisting of a chancel and a nave with a Romanesque doorway in its south wall. This building was partially repaired in the 1980s and is now open to the public. In the graveyard, a Butler mausoleum (which is nearly as large as the church) contains the tombs of:

Some of the eighteenth-century headstones are carved with elaborate scenes of the crucifixion.[9]

The lament for Kilcash[edit]

The castle is best known for the song "Kilcash" (Irish: Cill Chaise),[10] which mourns the ruin of the castle and the death of Margaret Magennis, Viscountess Iveagh. The song has been ascribed to Fr John Lane (d. 1776), but the woods lamented in its first stanza were not sold until 1797 and 1801, long after Lane's death.[11] The earliest manuscripts of the poem date from the mid-nineteenth century. Its first stanza reads:

The castle from a distance
Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?
Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár;
níl trácht ar Chill Chais ná ar a teaghlach
is ní chluinfear a cling go bráth.
An áit úd a gcónaíodh an deighbhean
fuair gradam is meidhir thar mhnáibh,
bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraingt tar toinn ann
is an t-aifreann binn á rá.
Now what will we do for timber,
With the last of the woods laid low?
There's no talk of Cill Chais or its household
And its bell will be struck no more.
That dwelling where lived the good lady
Most honoured and joyous of women
Earls made their way over wave there
And the sweet Mass once was said.

(translation by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Fry 1997, p. 220, 3rd column: "This consists of a six-storey tower-house with bartizan and high chimney stacks ..."
  2. ^ Breffny 1977, p. 146, line 1: "James, ninth Earl of Ormond, granted the lands of Kilcash to his third son John Butler by deed dated 26 May 1544 and it was probably at that time that the tower-house with bartizans and tall chimneys was built ..."
  3. ^ Breffny 1977, p. 146, line 5: "Beside it stands the ruin of a two-storey domestic building, added to provide more comfortable accommodation."
  4. ^ Flood 2020, p. 158.
  5. ^ Tillinghast, Richard (2008). Finding Ireland: a poet's explorations of Irish literature and culture. University of Notre Dame Press. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-268-04232-5. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  6. ^ Kiely, Jacinta (2011). "Database of Irish excavation reports - Tipperary 2007:1685 Kilcash Castle 23263 12734 TS078–037 E2018". Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  7. ^ Carrigan 1905, p. 319, line 10: "Christopher, born at Garryricken, January 18th, 1673. Having a vocation for the ecclesiastical state ..."
  8. ^ Flood 2020, p. 21.
  9. ^,%20Tipperary.html[bare URL]
  10. ^ Mangan 1850, p. 197.
  11. ^ Flood 2020, p. 296.