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Tullaun Castle

In County Tipperary, within a short distance from the Ballycolliton river, is a magnificent old castle. Its history dates back to ancient times, when clan O'Kennedy owned that land. Tullaun Stronghold had been forgotten for long but its impregnable location far away from bigger towns helped to remain its original appearance. Neither vandals nor bloody battles troubled this magnificent stronghold which had been sleeping peacefully among juicy green pastures for many centuries. However, in 2007 the castle’s new hosts, a married couple, Sonja and Kevin, gave this building an opportunity to have a new life.

History of Tullaun Castle

The history of Tullaun Stronghold dates back the second half of the 16 century, when clan O'Kennedy owned more than ten castles in Ormond Upper and Ormond Lower. This highly influential house was friendly with a famous Irish king, Brian Boru, whose nephew became the progenitor of clan O'Kennedy in the 11th century. By the end of the 14 century, when the clan leaders had been Lords of Ormond for many years, three branches of clan O'Kennedy were created, and called, apparently, based on their hair colour: Dunn (brown), Finn (fair), and Ruad (red). Tullaun Castle was founded by members of the Finn branch, and the first notes about its hosts date back to 1580, when Dairmid na Brosny O'Kennedy ruled over it.

The name of Tullaun Castle originates from the Irish word «tulachán» – «a small hill», which completely matched the localisation of the stronghold standing on a small rocky hill. The boggy land stretching around the hill provided great protection, thanks to it this stronghold was not turned into building materials later as it was the case for other neighbouring castles. In its golden era Tullaun Castle was a square four-storey tower and a strong link in the chain of five castles defending the land of clan O'Kennedy. Signal torches were lit on the top of the tower in case of danger. The two nearby neighbours could see them, nearby Lough Derg Lake, Annagh Castle and Cashlaunteigebocht Castle (Poor Teige’s Castle).

After law that prohibited the prefixes «О» and «Mac» in Irish surnames entered into force in 1653, the clan’s members were simply called the Kennedys. In 1656 the owner of Tullaun Stronghold, John Kennedy, was sent together with other rebellious Irishmen on the orders of Oliver Cromwell to the province of Connacht infamous for being one of the most severe and least fertile parts of Ireland. English and Scottish settlers arrived on the confiscated land that had once belonged to clan Kennedy, and in 1662 Tullaun Castle was owned by Solomon Camby, a captain of Cromwell's army. However, the severe stronghold in the bog did not suit the new host much so he settled in a castle in Castletown, another estate belonging to the Kennedy family. Hardly anything is known about other owners of this wonderful fortified building but there are some notes about a John Minchin, who in the spring of 1762 leased the village of Liskillebeene from Solomon Camby's great-grandson.

In 1840 outstanding Irish historians, John O'Donovan and Eugene O'Curry, mentioned this abandoned stronghold in their report. They carried out research on Ireland for the Irish Cartography Board. In the 1950s ivy was removed from the castle walls on the initiative of the Office of Public Works. Sometimes local inhabitants gave the stronghold a pretty dark nickname, the Black Castle, because of dark ivy branches covering the stronghold from top to bottom. In 2007 this building was bought by a married couple who is actively going to make their dream about restoring the castle’s former splendour come true. Sonja and Kevin believe that the castle will very soon become not only a popular tourist attraction in the region but also part of Irish architectural legacy.

The castle today

The rebuilding of the castle whose walls had been deserted for many centuries is a great challenge. However, the castle’s new hosts spare no effort to turn this wonderful old building into home full of comfort and medieval atmosphere. Not so long ago a renovation of the Great Hall started. It was gradually changed from a damp and dark chamber into a beautiful, light and lofty room with stained glass in the windows and vaulted ceiling. The couple is also planning to reconstruct the merlons crowning the tops of the towers and the spiral stairs inside the castle, which were destroyed long time ago to attract the attention of cows and sheep grazing nearby. There are breathtaking views of the Ballycolliton River, blooming fields and picturesque ruins of other old fortifications from the top castle floor.

Visits in Tullaun Castle must be arranged with the castle’s owners, you can contact them by email at the address given on the official websit