A recent family weekend away gave me an opportunity to get out with my camera, so with the buggy packed and my youngest son Dylan on board off we set to explore the town of Nenagh. Now from previous experience ruin hunting and little children do not always work out well, but then hey ‘what trouble could happen exploring a town’??? Now from our hotel I could clearly make out the top of a tower and it was ‘nt too hard to find but wouldn’t you know the grounds were closed and didn’t open until after lunch time. It was a Sunday morning and we were all heading home. So I had to resign myself to a couple of shots from a wall and through the main gate. Yet another site to add to my bucket list for a return visit. And one that I am looking forward to. What clearly stands out is the 100 ft high Tower house that once served as the keep of Nenagh Castle, it is believed to be Nenaghs oldest building and was once surrounded by walls with a gatehouse and two defensive towers. Whilst the Keep looks to be in a good state of repair, only the remains of the gatehouse and a small tower remain.The Castle was completed in 1220 by Theobald Fitzwalter whose family went on to become the Earls of Ormond and it became the main seat of the Butler family.The walls at the base of the castle are “splayed”, which gave the Castle protection from canon fire, and the subsequent curvature of the walls allowed missiles dropped from above to ricochet outwards upon would be assailants. Also found on the wall is a “machicolation”. This is a stone platform that projects from the third floor, resulting in an overhang on top of attackers. The platform had a central opening, through which defenders dropped an array of missiles down directly on the heads of those below.
Historically in 1336, a peace treaty was signed between James, the 1st Earl of Ormond, and a representative of the O’Kennedy family.Over 600 years later. The treaty was presented as a gift to John F. Kennedy during his state visit to Ireland in 1963, and it is now housed in the J.F.K Library in Massachusetts. As usual with many of these treaties between the Native clans and the foreign rulers, the O’Kennedy’s would break the terms of the treaty by attaacking the castle and burning the town around 1347. They were assisted in their assault by the the O’Brien & O’Carroll clans. During the course of the Confederate and Cromwellian Wars Nenagh Castle was seized on three separate occasions, until it was finally granted to Col. Daniel Abbot, along with extensive lands, in lieu of payment from Cromwell. The Butlers regained their family home after the Restoration in 1660. But during the Jacobite War Anthony O’Carroll took the Castle from James, the 2nd Duke, who supported William, and it was retaken in August 1690, by Ginkel. Two years later William ordered its demolition so that it would be “rendered indefensible in ill hands”. The keep, however was only partly damaged. Further destruction was wrought in 1750, when a farmer called Newsome attempted to demolish the Castle, as the sparrows it housed were destroying his barley crop nearby.The battlements on top of the keep were rebuilt in 1861, and further conservation was undertaken in 1929. In 1985 the field around the Castle was developed as a small town park. The Office of Public works currently maintains the building. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area, just make sure to check the opening times before you go, lesson learned.
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