For nearly 20 years, I’ve looked up at the grey stone remnants of Nenagh Castle and dreamed of the day I could wander around the chambers and climb to the very top. From the cylindrical keep, I envisioned gazing out over the town and soaking up the North Tipperary scenery.
Well, that dream has come true…
Full Access to the Castle
It’s taken about 800 years, but Nenagh’s impressive castle has finally opened to the public. The site has undergone a major conservation project ,and visitors are now invited to tour the various floors before climbing the spiral stone staircase to the impressive rooftop.
A bit of exploration reveals the various “scars” of the castle’s history. Visitors enter through a basement door made possible by an 18th century farmer so fed up with sparrows roosting in the castle and destroying his crops, he tried to blow up the structure. In the 19th century, the distinct crown of arches ringing the top of the keep were added as a belfry.
From Nenagh’s Crown
It is from the top where the Nenagh Castle experience shines. The ring of “walk-up” arches at the top offers a 360 degree view of the town and surrounding area. Each arch provides a vignette into a different aspect of the town… from one you see a church steeple, another reveals the old gaol, the next a view of the mountains, others reveal bits of the town centre.
Nenagh’s castle is on par with Tipperary’s two other top tier visitor attractions, The Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle — making Nenagh, which has long been off the tourism radar, another worthwhile stop for those traveling the “long way” to Tipperary.
Details for July 2012
I was among the castle’s first wave of visitors who enjoyed an unexpected early opening — OPW tradesmen working on the site teamed up with the Nenagh Town Council to provide access to as much of the castle as possible with no admission charge. As a result, there were no tour guides available (they’re being trained this week). However, information signs were complimented by the generous comments from on-site tradesmen and locals who were having a look around.
The castle is currently open Saturday and Sunday 1-5pm and Monday through Friday 10am-4pm. This schedule could change as things get settled, and it is possible the site will close during the winter months to complete conservation within the castle.
The opening of the castle compliments improvements made to nearby Banba Square which now houses the Tourist Office and an Arts Centre. The site is also an easy walk to the Nenagh Heritage Centre. Off-street parking is available throughout Nenagh, but those unfamiliar with the town may find parking and maneuvering the town’s web of streets a challenge… I’d suggest following signs to the Tourist Office and looking for parking near the library or the Catholic Church as both are within sight of the castle.
It’s important to note that those with physical limitations or claustrophobia may find the steep, narrow, spiral steps to the roof too difficult. However, the ground floor is easily accessible and the first level is reached by a modern staircase… and for those who have kissed the Blarney Stone, getting to the top of Nenagh Castle will be a cake walk.