Ardfinnan Castle

Ardfinnan Castle



Location: 7 mi West of Clonmel Map

Constructed: 1186


Ardfinnan Castle is a medieval castle situated in Ardfinnan in South Tipperary County of Ireland. Ardfinnan Castle was originally constructed in 1186 by the Earl of Morton for Prince John of England (future King John of England) to defend the river crossing in the town. The general shape of the castle is a parallelogram with four defensive tower on each corner of the citadel. Military use of Ardfinnan Castle ended in 1649 when Oliver Cromwell destroyed many of its defenses making it impossible to use. Unfortunately today Ardfinnan Castle is a private property and it is currently closed to the public so you can only enjoy it from the outside.


The English king John without country, the then Lord of Ireland, left the castle in 1185, during his first field to build a train to Ireland. Johann's father, king Henry II., had proposed to Ardfinnan and Thybroughney on the river Suir and Lismore on the Blackwater as key positions for the construction of castles. It was particularly important that Ardfinnan Castle would secure a path of the Anglo-Norman South coast-dominated Central Ireland. Johann without country came in April 1185 in Waterford, after which he enfeoffed soon the cambro-Norman knight Maurice de Prendergast with the reign of Ardfinnan, with the construction of Ardfinnan Castle officers, and demanded of him to defend it as his castellan.

As retribution for the construction of the castles by Johann without country Lismore Castle has been conquered in a surprise attack by the Irish and castellan, Robert de Barry, together with the whole garrison slaughtered. The king of Munster, Domnall Mór Ua Briain, the king of Connacht, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, and the king of Desmond, Dermod MacCarthy, turned against Ardfinnan Castle. When Ua Briain faced the imposing castle on the other bank of the river, he realized that he could not take it by force. He was deceived by his withdrawal, but only turned back to be followed by the little garrison of knights, who held Ardfinnan Castle, which was an advantage for Ua Briain. He returned to Ardfinnan, encircled with his force the now defencelessly exposed Knights, made a lot of them down and then conquered Ardfinnan Castle. After this battle and another lost Fight against the Irish kings, Johann without country was the original force of 300 men so decimated, that he was recalled in December of the same year 1185 by his father to England.

Ardfinnan Castle was promptly recaptured and continued to switch between the competing Anglonormans owners until it was handed over to the Templar Order and later to the St. John's order. The Johannites protected this important transition between Cashel and Lismore, and at the beginning of the 13th century they built the round Donjon which has been preserved to this day.

Siege by Cromwell's troops
On February 2, 1650, Major General Henry Ireton, who accompanied Oliver Cromwell in the reconquest of Ireland, found neither adequate weather conditions nor had boats for crossing the river Suir with his army. So he set out to the bridge of Ardfinnan, to conquer, in addition to the bridge in Carrick, another important transition over the river. With the prospect of conquering the strategically placed Castle, which protected the transition from high above, he waited until about 4 o'clock the next morning to make a siege. David FitzGibbon (The white knight), castellan of Ardfinnan Castle, commissioned by king Charles II., defended with a small group of soldiers from the castle against the parliamentary most. With cannons placed on top of a hill opposite the castle, he bombed the once impenetrable walls until after 8 shots there was a great breakthrough. Then he killed about 13 men of the outer guard ring, lost only two of his own people, and 10 of his men were wounded. After that, Ardfinnan Castle was promptly handed over to the New Model Army, which then used it as a garrison in Ireland for their entire time. Due to his rapid abandonment of the castle, Fitzgibbon's life was spared, but he lost his lands in Ardfinnan and was transferred to Connacht in 1653. Firearms, ammunition and other supplies, arrived in Youghal, were brought across the river Blackwater to Cappoquin, and finally, on the river Suir to Ardfinnan, so that you build the Rest of the army in Tipperary. With the end of Ireland's recapture, the retreating parliamentary troops dragged Ardfinnan Castle and left it as a partial ruin.


Garrison of the British army
Under the threat of an Invasion in the course of the French Revolution, the castle was once again occupied with a garrison, namely with Fencibles of the British Army. Even if Ardfinnan Castle was in ruins, held a strategically important location on a major crossing over the river Suir, and was used together with the Rest of the area around Ardfinnan, and Neddans for a summer training camp of the British Army, which also reserves that were prepared for a French Invasion. Training in shooting and marching was important to create an effective military force from this militia. In March 1796, on the orders of John Pratt, 1st Marquess Camden, a permanent camp consisting of a force of 2740 mostly Protestant soldiers. The camp was dissolved in 1802.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Ardfinnan Castle and 6 hectares of surrounding Land were returned to the descendants of Maurice de Prendergast. These belonged to the family branch of Newcastle. The Donjon of the castle was restored in Victorian style around 1846, building was built and the castle was essentially converted into a country house. In the early 1920s, Ardfinnan Castle was sold by the Royal Navy Admiral Sir Robert Prendergast to a certain Mr. Mulcahy of the successful Ardfinnan Woolen Mills. This mill overshadows the castle at a place where Prendergast's flour mill used to be. Mr Mulcahy had further renovation work done at the house in 1929. The last extension was a three-storey building with Gables, which was probably built in the 1930s.