Royal Constables of Cashel castle, Co. Tipperary
Niall C.E.J. O'Brien
Today [27 June 2013] I received a draft printer's copy of an article I submitted for the forthcoming issue of the Tipperary Historical Journal. The article is in three parts:
- The relationship between the English administration in Dublin and the Archbishop of Cashel in Munster between 1200 and 1327.
- The efforts to establish a royal castle at Cashel between 1216 and the 1330s.
- A brief biography on the eight constables who were in charge of the castle between 1339 and 1365.
The relationship between Dublin and the Archbishop were far from easy as one side tried to impose its will upon the other. Following the Norman/English invasion of 1169 the newcomers tried to get Anglo-Normans in vacant archbishoprics and bishoprics. A sort of comprise was reach whereby the archbishoprics of Armagh and Dublin would be occupied by Englishmen while an Irish person would sit at Tuam and Cashel. This comprise was often challenged and at nearly every vacancy at Cashel in the 13th century the King of England and the Dublin government tried to get an Englishman as archbishop. This was fiercely resisted at Cashel. An Englishman was elected in 1317 but his tenure was brief and after 1327 Irish men held the position.
Royal castles were established across Ireland as the Anglo-Normans advanced. These castles acted a local government centres for the king - facilitating tax collection, court sittings, residences for travelling officials and as military bases. These castles were often built on church land because the Church was in large part exempted from taxation and so this was a way for the king to get something of value out of the Church.
The Dublin government proposed in 1217 to build a royal castle at Cashel as a local symbol of royal rule. This was resisted by the archbishop of Cashel as a encroachment upon his domain. The fighting and legal argument went between the parties, across to London and even to Rome and back. The English got permission for a royal prison but no castle.
By 1339 a royal castle was eventually established. The records are silent as to when it was built. The records are also silent on where the caste was located. The prison was originally located inside the town of Cashel but after more argument was moved outside the town. Without archaeological work we will not know where the castle was or what it looked like. Part of the purpose of the article is to raise awareness of the castle in he hope that archaeologists working in the area will remember it in their work and look out for it.
The third part of the article provides a brief biography on the eight constables and some are very brief [Peter de Monte served from 1342 to 1345 but we know nothing else of his life]. The eight constables were Thomas de Lowther (1339-1340); William de Barton (1340-1342); Peter de Monte (1342-1345); Peter de Boys (1345-1346); Adam White (1347-1355); Stephen Froyse (1356-1357); Alexander de Creting (1357-1359) and William de Halghton (1361-1365).
After 1365 no more constables are recorded in the Dublin exchequer accounts. It is not know how long after 1365 the castle stayed in use. Was it dismantled or sold or just left fall into ruin - the records are silent.
The Cashel Palace Hotel is said by some to be the location of the castle but without digging or knocking down the hotel this idea cannot be proved or disproved.
Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain with the Rock of Cashel in the background. The cathedral and palace of the archbishop of Cashel was on the Rock.
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