Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary

This castle of the Butlers - Earls and later Dukes of Ormonde - stands above the Suir on the east side of Carrick. It was acquired in 1315, though the oldest part of the castle is a mid-fifteenth-century walled bawn with a tower house in each of its northern corners. Sometime after 1565 the tenth, or "Black", Earl of Ormonde, who spent many years in the court of his cousin Queen Elizabeth I, added a Tudor manor house of a type common in England but like no other in Ireland. The low U-shaped range of this house forms three sides of a small court attached to the north of the old bawn, whose towers rise behind it. It has two storeys with a gabled attic, rows of mullioned windows with curved-headed lights, and steep brick gables with slender finials. There are few defensive features save for small firing-holes either side of the front door.

The house was a favourite haunt of the Great Duke of Ormonde, but afterwards it was deserted by the family, although they continued to own it until the present century. Fortunately, it was never allowed to fall into complete ruin and in 1947 was taken over by the State, who subsequently conserved the building. Their most notable achievement was the restoration of the long gallery on the first floor of the front elevation, whose ceiling had largely collapsed.

This delightful room, once hung with tapestries, has a magnificent limestone mantel bearing the date 1565, and stucco representations of Queen Elizabeth flanked by Equity and Justice. The Queen would have felt at home in this room and in the rest of this house, which was probably intended, for she is believed to have promised her favourite cousin "Black Tom" that she would one day honour Carrick with a visit.

Located by the river at E end of Castle Street in remains of a park.
NGR: S 405216.
State Care Monument.
Open daily mid-June to September
Admission fee charged.
Tel: Michael Wallace, 7 Greenhill Close, Pill Road on (051) 40787.