The finest cylindrical keep in Ireland - known to generations of Tipperary people as the "Nenagh Round" - was built around 1200 by Theobald Walter, the founder of the great Butler dynasty of Ormonde. It formed the north corner of a pentagonal court with a towered gatehouse on the southern side and strong towers on the north-west and south-east angles. This has now vanished, save for fragments of the gatehouse and east tower, but the keep survives to a height of 100 feet. Its topmost quarter was added about 1860 by the Bishop of Killaloe in emulation of Windsor Castle - the original height to the wall-walk being about 75 feet. There were four storeys, including a basement, with a first-floor entrance giving access to a winding mural stair that was once enclosed by a protecting turret. The second and third floors have narrow loops with large embrasures for crossbowmen, but the top floor is well lit by four windows and was clearly the main chamber.The Butlers remained at Nenagh until the 14th century, when they moved to Gowran and later purchased Kilkenny Castle in 1391. During the 15th century it was occupied by the O'Briens, but was recovered in 1533 by Sir Piers Ruadh Butler, later Earl of Ormonde. The castle changed hands many times before and during the Cromwellian wars, but after its capture by Ginkel in 1690, the place was dismantled by the Williamites. The Butler link was finally broken in 1703 when the second Duke of Ormonde sold the place to pay debts.
Nenagh. NGR: R 865764.