Location – In Cullahill village, just off the R639 between Johnstown and Durrow.
OS: S 35590 74009
Description and History – Cullahill tower house has been on my radar for many years, and considering that I only live a short drive away it is amazing that I’ve never been here. But, at last the opportunity came and off I went. This limestone tower house is largely ruined now, with nearly all material on the North side lost. However, on the East and South sides it stands to full height, some five storeys high (I could find no reliable reference to the height of the castle, but I would hazard a guess of about 25 metres). A barrel vault survives over the ground floor, and on the East wall a large chimney stack is still in situ. On the East wall, about 13m up on the southern side sits a Sheela-na-gig. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a good picture of this, as I would have to enter private property, and there was nobody around to ask permission from. The castle sits in a very well preserved polygonal bawn wall. Nearby to the West is the private chapel of the castle. I will have to return to visit this chapel properly as I didn’t have time on this visit.
The castle is early 15th century in date and was built by the MacGillapatricks around 1425. The castle was attacked in both 1441 and 1517 by enemies from Kilkenny (the Butlers?). It was eventually destroyed and left in its present state by Cromwellians who used cannon against the castle around 1650.
Information boards have now been erected at the site giving an overview of its history, and the surrounding area is well cared for. The signs make it explicitly clear that you cannot enter the castle as it is on private property, and this should be respected, as it abuts a working farm.
Difficulty – Very easy to find as it dominates Cullahill village. There is a small car park about 200m away from the castle. It’s easy to walk around as you can only view it from the outside.
Date of visit: 29th October, 2021.
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