Tipperary Tourist Attractions


Ahenny and Kilkieran High Crosses
The Ahenny and Kilkieran High Crosses can be found on two separate sites not far from Carrick-on-Suir. The crosses are unusual because they are decorated with traditional early Celtic patterns as well as the more usual biblical scenes, which adorn crosses such as those at Monasterboice in County Louth. The two highly decorated and well preserved 8th century Celtic High crosses at Ahenny are around 12 feet high and are topped off with removable capstones. There are three crosses at Kilkieran, one of which is similar to the Ahenny crosses and the others which are much less decorated.

Athassel Abbey
Athassel Abbey just outside the village of Golden and five miles from Cashel was built around 1200 by the Anglo Norman William de Burgh. The priory and Athassel town were burnt by the local Irish ruling family, the O’Briens in the 14th century. Parts of the priory’s cloisters, gatehouse and chapter house are still standing. The town was never rebuilt after being burnt the second time.

Ballynahow Castle
Ballynahow castle near Thurles was built in an unusual circular shape in the 16th century and is still in a good condition.

Cahir Castle
The first castle on the site of Cahir Castle on a rocky island on the River Suir was built by the ruling Irish Chieftain Conor O’Brien in 1142. The castle later became a powerful stronghold of the Butlers, the Kilkenny based Earls of Ormonde who strengthened its defences. Cahir Castle is still extremely well preserved despite coming under the canon fire of the Earl of Essex in 1599, because it surrendered to Cromwell without a siege later in the 17th century. It was also restored by the Earl of Glengall in the 19th century.

Cashel Folk Village
Cashel Folk Village provides an interesting window into traditional Irish rural life and contains reconstructed old shop fronts, a replica penal chapel modelled on those used to hold masses when the Penal laws prohibited the practising of Catholic region in 1695 and a traditional gypsy caravan.

Glen of Aherlow
The beautiful Glen of Aherlow is the lush green valley of the Aherlow River which runs between the scenic Galtee Mountains and the Slieveneamuch Hills. The town of Cahir and the village of Bansha are both good bases for walking or cycling in the Glen. The Vee, which can be reached easily from Clogheen is also an attractive scenic spot. The Glen is very popular for walking, cycling, riding and fishing.

Holy Cross Abbey
The Holy Cross Abbey near Thurles was founded by the Cistercians in the 12th century and was extensively restored after being out of use for over 400 years. It is now a working parish church with original carvings and murals. It has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries because it had a holy relic said to be a fragment of the Cross that Jesus was crucified on which was given to the King of Munster Murtagh O’Brien by Pope Pascal.

Lough Derg
Lough Derg is on Tipperary’s northern border with County Clare. You can catch boats to the Holy Island monastic settlement which was founded on the Lough by Saint Caimin in the 7th century from Mountshannon in Clare. The site has a round tower, four ancient churches, an ancient graveyard and other ruins. Boats for trout and salmon fishing on Lough Derg can be also be hired from Mountshannon.

Nenagh Castle
Nenagh Castle was the home of the Anglo-Norman Thoebald Fitzwalter who was appointed Butler to the English Crown, a powerful position which went along with the job of holding the coronation wine cup. Fitzwalter changed his name to Butler and his family, the Earls of Ormonde became one of the most influential families in Ireland, who moved their power base to Kilkenny castle in 1391. A large tower is the only part of the castle that remains.

Ormonde Castle
Ormonde Castle in Carrick- on-Suir was a stronghold of the powerful Earls of Ormond who had their main castle in Kilkenny. The Tenth Earl, Black Tom Butler, built the grand Elizabethan mansion beside the castle to receive his cousin Queen Elizabeth I (who referred to him as her ‘Great Black Husband’). Her mother Anne Boleyn, one of the ill fated wives of Henry VIII and the great great granddaughter of the 7th Earl of Ormonde is said to have been born at Ormond castle. However Queen Elizabeth never came to visit.

Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel, also called Saint Patrick’s Rock, is probably Ireland’s most impressive religious ruin. The huge complex which includes Cormac’s Chapel, a Cathedral, castle, Hall of the Vicars Choral, a 92 feet high round tower and a protective wall, towers gothicly over the small town of Cashel. It can be seen for miles around because of its position on a limestone outcrop sticking up out of the flat green plain of farmland. The Rock was the site of the royal fortress of the Eoghanacht clan in the 5th century (Cashel means fortress in Irish). The Eoghanacht originally came from Britain and ruled Munster from Cashel for 400 years, rivalling the power of Tara in the north.
The fortress had early links with Christianity because Saint Patrick converted one of the Eoghanacht kings in the 5th century. The Saint accidentally stabbed the king’s foot with his pastoral staff during his baptism but the king bore the pain unflinchingly because he believed it was part of the religious ritual. In the 10th century the Dal gCaise clan of west Munster led by Brian Boru defeated the Eoghanacht and installed themselves as the kings of Cashel, even though their power base was in Shannon. In 1101 King Muircheartach O’Brien gave Cashel to the Church, so that the Eoghanacht clan could not retake their traditional seat of power.
The Eoghanacht moved to Cork and became the Mac Carthaigh (McCarthy) kings of Desmond, but Cormac Mac Carthaigh built Cormac’s Chapel, one of the most interesting buildings at Cashel, before leaving, in 1127. The cruciform shaped Chapel is the earliest Romanesque church in Ireland and has interesting carvings including a Norman centaur shooting a bow and arrow at a huge lion and the intricately carved sarcophagus of what is thought to be King Cormac’s tomb.
The first Cathedral on the Rock was built in the 12th century, but the gothic Cathedral, still on the site, was started in 13th century. The tomb of one notorious Bishop of Cashel, Miler MacGrath, who died in 1621, is in the choir of the Cathedral. Miler was the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor and in 1571 he was also appointed as the Protestant Archbishop of Cashel by Queen Elizabeth. As well as these two posts he held three others and 70 other livings. There are also attractive 16th century altar tombs carved with religious figures and animals and there are carved heads in the roof arches.
In 1647 Cromwell’s forces under Lord Inchquin sacked and took Cashel. The Irish Confederate council opposing Cromwell had a garrison in Cashel and when the English forces arrived, the townspeople fled to the Rock leaving the city gates open. 800 people died in the fight on the rock during which 20 ecclesiastics were smothered to death by fire in the Castle vault by Cromwell’s troops. Despite being damaged the Cathedral remained in use until the 18th century. The Castle was ruined during a fierce storm in 1847. Bishop Rsiteard O’hEidhimn built the Hall of the Vicars Choral which now houses the visitors centre in the 15th century.
The original 12th century crutched Saint Patrick’s Cross has been moved into the visitors centre with other carvings and silver and precious metal bells and croziers. A replica of the cross now stands outside the Cathedral. A 20 minute video is also run telling about the Rock’s history.

Saint Cronan’s Monastic Site
Saint Cronan’s monastic site is the second of two monastic sites set up in Roscrea by Saint Cronan in the 5th century. The very ruined site has the remains of Saint Cronan’s Church, a 12th century high cross. There is nothing remaining of the other monastery. The 7th century religious illuminated Book of Dimma, which was written in Roscrea can be seen in Trinity College in Dublin.

Swiss Cottage
The fanciful ‘traditional’ Swiss Cottage in Cahir, was designed and built as a holiday home for Richard Butler, the 12th Earl of Glengall by the Regency architect John Nash.