There’s so much to see and do in the beautiful county of Tipperary. Here is just a sampling of interesting places and activities within easy reach of Mountain View.
Cahir Castle is a magnificent building on an island in the middle of Cahir town. This imposing 13th to 15th Century structure was skilfully designed by the O’Briens and later the powerful Anglo-Norman family, the Butlers, to be a state-of-the-art defensive castle. Appearing to grow from the actual rock on which it stands, the castle has been the scene of sieges and bombardments for centuries. If you look closely from the main road, you can see a cannonball still stuck in the outer wall. A guided tour is the best way to take the castle in.
Close by the castle is Cahir Park. This used to be the private park for the Butler family but it is now a public park, open to all, bounded by the river that runs by the castle, and comprising a large open grassy area, edged with trees. Currently it contains a series of sculptures by Stone Mad stone working company. The river is the habitat of many swans and ducks. Near the park is the site of a weekly farmer’s market. All in all, a very nice place to relax, and just off the main street of Cahir town.
Cahir is loaded with beautiful buildings, many of them of historic or architectural interest, or both. You’ll see many of them in or near Cahir Square, including the Cahir House Hotel, which once upon a time used to be the private home of the Butler family after they decided to move out of the medieval castle. There is an elegant fountain in the centre of the square, built as the terminus of an ambitious water-supply scheme laid on in 1876 by Lady Margaret Butler-Charteris. There’s a dramatic abbey ruin a few steps away from the square, surrounded by an atmospheric churchyard – just head up the hill from the square to check it out, including the 16th and 17th Century tombstones in its churchyard. There are many interesting pubs and cafes in the square with traditional eye-catching frontages. An 18th Century grain store has been restored and made into The Craft Granary, an outstanding craft shop with an art gallery upstairs.
One of our favourite Cahir buildings is the exquisite Regency-era Saint Paul’s Church which is looked after by the local Rector, Barbara Fryday. Saint Paul’s Church was built under instruction of the Butler family and is one of only two known churches designed by the celebrated Anglo-Welsh architect, John Nash. Not only is it a beautiful building, it’s unusual in retaining its original interior design, pretty much untouched by the passage of time.
John Nash was the private architect to King George IV, famous for building Cahir’s Swiss Cottage (see later); Buckingham Palace in London, England; and the eye-popping Brighton Pavilion, amongst others, as well as laying out most of Regency London’s street plans. He built three buildings in Cahir, the old school, the Swiss Cottage, and the church. The church was constructed at a cost of 2,307 pounds, which was a colossal amount of money even back then. Situated just past Cahir Square in a picturesque location above the river Suir with Cahir Castle as its backdrop, the church’s dramatic spire has become a major landmark in the town of Cahir.
Another favourite is the Swiss Cottage, another John Nash design. This perfect little building is an example of a cottage orné, illustrative of the then-fashion for rich people to build particularly fanciful and decorative buildings purely to impress guests and hold entertainments in. Casino in Dublin is another example, and Nash’s Brighton Pavilion is probably the apogee of the genre.
The exterior of the building is much admired and the subject of many a postcard, but the hand-painted wallpaper and custom interiors are equally delightful. The Swiss Cottage is just over a mile away along the Ardfinnan Road, but can also be reached by a pleasant riverside walk from Cahir Park.
One of Europe’s major show caves, Mitchelstown Cave, is situated on the Cork-Tipperary border, about 15km from Cahir. Mitchelstown Cave is a fascinating glimpse into an underground world so entirely different from the ordinary world of the earth’s surface that being there seems to be something like walking on another planet. It’s well worth a visit, not least on a hot day, when it’s a cool refuge from the unfamiliar rays of the Irish sun. 🙂
The local area has plenty of sporting clubs and associations. For example, golf lovers are well served by Cahir Park Golf Club, just outside the town centre, and Tipperary Golf Club, which is on the way to Aherlow. Duneske Sports Centre has gym and leisure centre facilities, and Cahir Equestrian Centre is for the horse riders. Cahir also has an all-weather soccer (football) pitch, all-weather tennis courts, a downhill mountain-biking track, and a GAA pitch. But the main physical pursuit in the area is of course the attractions of the Galtee, Comeragh, and Knockmealdown mountains.
Visit the Walking in Cahir page for information on the peaks, the ranges, and the routes, or contact the Galtee Walking Club or Peaks Mountaineering Club, both of which exist to foster a love of the high places. If mountaineering and hillwalking are not your cup of tea, a trip to Glengarra Wood with its graded way-marked trails can be the perfect day out in the fresh air, without involving anything too vertical. 🙂 But even if you don’t enjoy walking as a hobby, it’s very worthwhile just to take a drive over the Vee, to visit Bay Loch, a high altitude lake that is reputed to be haunted, and to take in the amazing scenery.
The Glen of Aherlow is an area of outstanding natural beauty and anyone seeking a refreshing day’s walking or simply a drive in lovely countryside would be wise to give it a visit.
A little further afield, about half an hour’s drive from Cahir, is the Rock of Cashel. Cashel itself is a very pretty town and the Rock is its crowning glory, consisting of one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe. Even if you loathe art and can’t abide historic or architecturally beautiful sites, the Rock resembles a city from the pages of The Lord of the Rings, and is worth a visit for the magnificent views alone. Hore Abbey is another spectacular ruin, sited about a stone’s throw from the Rock.