After visiting Cahir Castle, we drove to the Swiss Cottage about 2km away from the castle. It was built in the early 1800s, the architect is thought to be John Nash who was one of the most fashionable architects of the Regency period, most notably for the Royal Pavilion at Brighton. The style is "cottage orné", it was built as a hunting lodge (or perhaps as a place for him to rendezvous with his mistress) for Richard Butler, Lord Caher and later the 1st Earl of Glengall. The cottage fell into disrepair over the years but I still found it quite incredible that this cottage cost over 500,000 to restore when you consider there are only four rooms in the cottage. The salon is decorated with ornate Parisian Dufour wallpaper, some sections of it original, some of it replaced.
The exterior of the thatched roof cottage was designed to blend in with nature and the interior design is intentionally asymetrical, you'll notice that the windows are all different sizes, the entrances feature different size steps, the window panes all different in design.
The visit is by guided tour only, we had just missed a tour and ended up waiting for about 1/2 hour, the tour itself takes about an hour. Interior photography is not allowed but you can take photos of the interior from the outside for the two ground floor rooms. Admission is included on the Heritage Card
Cahir Castle was our 1st stop in Cahir, we found a free parking spot on the street right across from the castle. The castle, located on a rocky island in the middle of the River Suir, was the stronghold of the Butler family (the earls of Ormonde), the Butler's more or less remained in control of Cahir Castle from 1375 until 1961 with a brief change of hands when the Earl of Essex took it over in 1599 after a 3 day siege, again in 1647 when the guardian of a young Lord Cahir surrendered to Lord Inchiquin and yet again in 1650 when the castle was surrendered to Oliver Cromwell after he wrote them a letter demanding the castle, there wasn't even a shot fired that time.
There are guided tours available but we chose to wander the ground by ourselves, there's a room filled display cases and boards explaining the history of the castle and an audiovisual presentation you can watch. We spent about an hour here, admission is included on the Heritage Card.
Cahir Castle is regarded as one of Ireland's finest and best preserved castles. Originally it was Conor O'Brien, Lord of Thomond, who built a fort here on the banks of the Suir River in the 12th century (around 1142).
The original fort was later expanded and developed by The Butler family, who acquired the castle in the 14th century. James Butler, Baron of Cahir, was given the castle in 1375 as areward for his loyalty. However the Butler's support of the Irish during the Elizabethan Wars, led to the castle being captured in 1599 after a siege by the loyalist Earl of Essex.
The castle was again the site of further conflict during the Irish Confederate Wars when it wsa besieged and surrendered twice one to Lord Inchiquin in 1647 and later to Oliver Cromwell in 1650. (See Cashel page for more on Inchiquin and Cromwell sieges in Cashel)
The Castle was abondoned in the 18th centruy and fell into disrepair and eventual ruin but has was since been restored and is presently run and owned by the state. Incidently the last of the Butler's only passed away in 1961 when the castle was passed over to state ownership.
The castle is one of Ireland's most visited heritage sites and because of the town's location close to the town of Cashel, it is an easy catch for anyone visiting the mighty Rock of Cashel (See my Cashel Page for more details on the 'Rock')
The Swiss Cottage in Cahir is another great attraction. The cottage is thought to have been desighned by John Nash (The regency architect responsible for the stunning Royal Pavilion in Brighton)
The building is one of the world's finest examples of a 'cottage orneé' or ornamental cottage. This style of cottage was very fashionable at the time as a rural residence or lodge by the aristocaracy who liked to engage in make-believe activities centring around the life and lifestyles of peasants! Wealthy people at the time loved the idea of pretending to be peasants and built cottages like this to act out their ideas of rural working class life. A bit unrealistic since peasants definitely didn't live in cottages as luxurious as this!!!
The style of the cottage ornee, dicatated that the setting for the cottage should fulfill certain criteria, such as a scenic wooded landscape, nearby river or lake, unimpeded views over natural landscape and a raised profile from which to enjoy this scenery. The Swiss Cottage in Cahir certainly fulfills all these prerequisites for a cottage orneé, with its woodland setting on the banks of the River Suir, with stunning views towards the Galtee Mountains and down river to Cahir Castle.
The Swiss Cottage was built around 1810 and was the rural residence of the Butler's who used the cottage as a country lodge and for entertainment purposes. The butler's spent a considerable amount of money decorating the house and landscaping the area around the cottage to create their ideal 'cottage orneé' going as far as displacing some 'actual' peasants from their dwellings to ensure total privacy and unimpeded views.
Unfortunately, the cottage was neglected for years and it was only through the efforts of members of the local community and generous donators, that the cottage was rescued from irreparable damage. The cottage would not have survived another year and the roof was already caving in and the thatched roof was ruined. Thankfully a huge amount of money was ured into the restoration of the cottage and it is now back to its former glory and splendour and is run as a public attraction by the Office of Public Works.
Mid March: Tues-Sun 10:00-13:00 14:00-16:30 April: Tues-Sun 10:00-13:00 14:00-18:00 May-Mid Oct: Daily 10:00-18:00 Mid Oct-Nov:
The interior of the cottage was elaborate and lavish with the best of materials used in it's styling and decoration. The wall paper used in the Salon was one of the first examples produced by the Parisian wall papeer factory - Dufour. The wall paper depicts scenes from Constatinople (present day Istanbul) with classical and rural scenes. It was common in the style of the cottage orneé to include scenes such as this while also incorporating oriental and exotic influences. While most of the wall paper was destroyed during the years of neglect, some of the original wallpaper has rescued and is original. The same can be said of the beautiful wooden floors (walnut) some of which has been rescued and restored, while other parts have had to be replaced. The window panes are also worth noticing. The original ones can be spotted by the ripples in the glass and smoky tint to the colour. The windows show a mix of classical and rural scenes just as in the wallpaper.
Inside, as with the exterior, the cottage is influenced by nature with the symmetry and design being deliberately irregular and uneven. All sides of the cottage are unique and even the window lines are slanted. The windows of the cottage are all different with arched windows standing beside pointed windows. Even the doors are irregular with steps into some while across the hall the door is level with the floor. This was all part of the style of the cottage orneé which followed the idea that nothing in nature was the same. The groud terrace roof is supported by trunks of natural wood, giving the impression that the cottage itself has grown from the ground.
Photos are not allowed inside (I took mine through the windows which I was told was allowed...apparently!!!)
The drive from Lismore to Cahir wasn't nearly as arduous as I thought, I see the word mountains and I automatically think "oh crap" but the drive wasn't bad at all and was relatively scenic. You'll see signs as you drive along R668 for The Vee which as you'd suspect offers a V shaped view of the valley as you are driving through the mountains, there's a place you can pull off the road and snap a photo or two.
The name Knockmealdown isn't nearly as interesting as it sounds, it translates into "bare brown mountain".
The Walk along the River Suir takes you from the Castle to the Swiss Cottage. The river walk is a nice stroll through the wooded area whihc surrounds the castle grounds and cottage. The walk passes by the well maintained golf course which is situated on grounds used by the Butler's for hunting and fishing while staying and entertaining visitors at the Swiss Cottage.
As you reach the Cottage Orneé you cross a bridge over the Suir. The bridge dates from 1928.
The small town of Cahir in County Tipperary is best known for its impressive castle which lies on a rocky island in the river Suir. It's one of the largest and best preserved castles of Ireland and its origins can be traced back to the 3rd century (the Book of Lecan mentions the destruction of a native fort at Caher in this time). The actual castle was built in 12th century by Conor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond. During the centuries that followed, Cahir Castle has multiply been extended and fortified.
The castle can be visited year-round (entrance fee for adults is 2,90 €uros). You can also attend a very interesting audio-visual presentation called "Cahir Castle and the Story of Irish Castles" which takes around 15 minutes and is available in various languages.
There's a public car park right next to the castle.
This castle, originally owned by the Butler Family, is the largest well-preserved castle in Ireland. Guided tours are available and very interesting.
Groups/Senior Citizens: EUR2.00
When you get there and look closer you immediately see, that castle has been built in the island and on the natural limestone rock. Great two deffences. Before the Butler family took it over, there was a earthen stronghold belonging to local chief. But Butler family owned this castle for 700 years.
They were great diplomats, that is one reason the castle was never fully destroyed during wars.
It really gives you good idea how the life was in 15-17 century castles.
The entrance fee was only 3 EUR and it included a tour. I strongly suggest this. In addition there was a 15min documentary show on the old stables after the tour.
Open all year round:
Mid Oct - February: Daily 09.30 - 16.30
March - Mid June: Daily 09.30 - 17.30
Mid June - August; Daily 09.00 - 18.30
Sept - Mid Oct: Daily 09.30 - 17.30
Closed at Christmas from the 24th to the 30th December inclusive.
Average Length of Visit: 1 - 1.5 hours
PS! Lot of movies have been shot in there. Remember " Tristan and Isolde "? Tour guide also revealed proudly a little secret that Mr.Mel Gibson was visiting the town, looking for ideas and places to shot for his new movie about month ago. Well, well, well...
Nice building, built by Butler family on nineteen century, originally spinning factory.
Now you can buy local artists craft from there. I always try to buy local craftsmen work.
It is a nice souvenir and when signed, it gets more valuable over the years. Your grandchildren might be grateful to you one day.
There are art exhibitions held on the second floor!
It has build in medieval times and became Anglican parish church at the Reformation and remained so until 1820s.
It is in ruins and still waiting archaeological works because it is believed that it has built on the top of older building. I saw a hole on the ground in churcyard from where the nave could be seen. Very interesting and seemed as if the roof of this underground structure falled in.
Church ruins itself fits well to some spooky movie.
Building was completed in 1881. The Mercy Sisters have been mostly involved in the health and education fields. The Cahir Convent was Mother House to three convents (Clogheen, Ballyporeen and Portlaw) and two hospitals (Clogheen District and St. Joseph's Clonmel), as well as several primary and second-level schools.
Impressive building and spacious garden surrounding it.
2 km from Cahir, on the right side bank of River Suir is a beautiful restored building. Locals gave it a name of Swiss Cottage. In fact it has nothing to do with Switzerland or Swiss cottages.
It is actually a finest example of the ornamental cottage. It is a type of idealised architecture. It was constructed in early years of nineteenth century by Richard Butler, 12th Lord Caher. Owners never spent any nights in its, it was built for entertainment. Theatrical maybe or just for relaxation after the hunt in nearby mountains and woods.
It has really unic style, all the windows and doors are different...very romantic building. It has some hidden gems interior design features. It will be explained to you by guide.
Ticket costs 3 EUR
31st Mar - 24th October: Daily 10.00 - 18.00. Swiss Cottage will close for the season at 3 o'clock on 24th October.
Admission by guided tour only.
Last admission 45 mins before closing.
Average Length of Visit: 1 hour
Was built in 1852 on railway line of Limerick - Rosslare. Being below and looking up to huge columns - impressive.