Carey’s Castle: a hidden gem at the foot of the Comeraghs

carey castle

Just about a mile off the Clonmel to Dungarvan road, at the border between Tipperary and Waterford counties, stands the most loved and visited castle in the area.

The castle is located in the beautiful mixed woodlands close to the Glenary River, a tributary of the River Suir. Centuries ago the place was known as Glenabbey. It was a small monastic site that belonged to the Cistercian monastery in Innislounaght, Clonmel, but was abandoned in the 16th century as a result of the Dissolution of the Monasteries initiated by Henry VIII. The ruins of the old buildings and walls can still be seen.

After the monks moved out, the site was granted to Edward Gough, an alderman of Clonmel. There is no record that something remarkable had been happening in the site during the next 200 years, but in the beginning of the 19th century the Carey’s castle was built. At that time, the site was the property of the Carey family, the wealthy schoolmasters who loved history. It is believed that they were the ones who built the castle, because it is a mixture of architectural styles and eras. You see an ancient Irish Round Tower, medieval Norman hall, Romanesque arches and Gothic windows. There was also a walled garden facing the river.

The Careys sold the site in the 1840s when they emigrated to Australia. The next owner was Colonel Nuttall Greene, who soon became bankrupt, and his property was sold off in the Estates Court. The site was abandoned and became derelict.

Carey castle

Carey castle

Carey castle

Carey castle

Carey castle

I always thought this building was an ice house, but now I know it is a chapel :). I love to receive feedback and learn new things.

Carey Castle

This is the other side of the chapel and the path that approaches the site from the east.

Carey castle

This is the path you would walk on from the parking lot after you take a right turn down the hill. The main path continues straight through the woods. It is also beautiful and worth to explore.

Carey castle

This is what you see when you walk down that path. In summer, the view is obscured by the tree branches.

Carey castle

Here the path makes a loop and returns to the woods. A different view from this point. On the right, you see the walled garden.

Carey castle

All the parts of the path are mystically beautiful. You see many ancient ruins who knows how old.

Carey castle

Glenary River is a treasure itself. Quite deep in some places, she even hosts fish. Local teenagers come for a swim in the icy-cold pool, just five minutes walk to the east from the castle.

I walk along the Glenary River out of the woods to the main road. It is quite dark here, and suddenly there is an opening between the trees, and the sheep appear like pale ghosts out of nowhere, startling me.

I hurry up, and in a couple of minutes the sun is shining again, and there are no ghosts anymore. Thistles and Foxgloves are stretching tall to get out of the thick wall of nettles guarding an old farmstead.


I take some pictures of the gate and old roof, and walk to the parking lot.

Carey Castle is a unique place, open to everyone. How sad it is that people leave all their litter there after having picnics and walking their dogs. Once a year, a local Slovakian/Polish family hosts a Gulash Party in the castle grounds. A huge saucepan of stew is cooked, and families with children stay in the site all the day, and some even over night, sleeping in the tents. Everyone can come if they are well-behaved 🙂  Before the party begins, the hosts are combing the area and picking up all the rubbish left there during the rest of the year. After the party, the place is tidied up again.

There is another Carey’s Castle in the world, a cave-like dwelling in the end of a magnificent trail at the South-West corner of Joshua Tree National Park, USA. Both sites are not officially recognized as tourist destinations, and remain ‘hidden gems’.

Thank you for visiting my favorite place!

Just to let you know.  We have a wee addition to our family 🙂


inese_mj_photography Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. I loved the one with the sheep framed by the trees. Didn’t know sheep could look so mystical! 🙂

    1. Thank you Carolee! 🙂 It was getting darker as I hurried up the road to my car. The bushes didn’t let me see much, but suddenly there was an opening, and I saw the sheep, silent, oblivious to my presence, as if they existed in a parallel world 🙂

  2. I’m sorry, Inese, but the most beautiful photograph is the last one. Congratulations for the wee addition to your family!

  3. I’ve never seen more spectacular photos of castle ruins! When I was just a tiny skeletal boy, I used to build and tear down my own castles with Lego bricks. I think I like yours better, Lady Inese.

    What a beautiful wee princess! She sparkles. Enjoy your family time. ❤ 💐

    1. Thank you so much, Dead D! This castle was built for fun and education, mostly, so it can be compared with the Lego castles 🙂
      Thank you for your kind words about my wee granddaughter. She is a sweetheart 🙂

  4. It looks such a peaceful place. Difficult to imagine that a monastery once stood there, before it was trashed. I’m glad that a castle was built on the same site later, even if that is now a ruin — albeit, a beautiful ruin. How laudable, that the Slovakian and Polish families do that big clean-up of all the litter once a year. Not so laudable the litter louts themselves, who probably would be mortified at being called louts!
    I love the new edition to your family. She’s looks such a cutie-pie:-)

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! Another week, and I have to leave my cutie and return back home.

      Carey castle is a famous picnic area, and some people just put their garbage in a ‘nice’ pile, and some other people just add to the pile and so on. They think it is ok but the wild animals dig through the garbage and drag it around the place, and then it is a real mess. But of course most of the visitors would never litter this beautiful corner of the woods.

      Pity there is very little known about the Carey family except that they were teachers. I can imagine how fun it was to build this amazing house to teach history to their children.

  5. If only those moss covered bricks could talk… what amazing stories they would tell! Thank you for another adventure, Inese — your enchanting photos are the next best thing to being there.

    Also, I shall have your poppy poem finished by mid-week. xo

    1. My sweet friend, I am so happy that my poppies inspired you! I am sure that it will be the most beautiful and dreamy poem 🙂
      I guess that the moss covers the remains of the 4-5 century monastery. It was a branch of the main monastery I wrote about in my following blog. Both were abandoned and demolished after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536.

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 You would love to walk around the castle – it is not a park, the woods and the river are natural, and everything is covered with moss 🙂

  6. I first heard of a Clonmel village in a young adult book by Richard Flanagan, Ranger’s Apprentice. It is make believe, of course, but somehow alludes to a real place in that area.

    Congratulations for the bundle of joy. How precious!

    1. Thank you so much! The young lady is my third granddaughter 🙂
      Clonmel has a long history reaching back to BC times. I have read some of John Flanagan books of the series, but not all of them.

    1. Thank you so much, Cynthia! I just wanted to tell that I am busy with my grandkids these days 🙂 All my time belongs to my daughter and her family 🙂

  7. I love reading about old ruins. Thank you for sharing a little bit of history. Love the photos and the little addition to the family. Blessings!

  8. Old, ruined castles like Carey are much more interesting to visit than the ones in top condition and filled with Victorian or Edwardian furniture and such like. I can understand why Carey is so popular. Your photos really capture the atmosphere of the place. Many congratulations on the latest addition to your family. The photo is delightful.

    1. Thank you so much, Millie! I am glad that it is not a tourist destination. It is a local pet castle, which is not, technically, a castle at all, but nevertheless beautiful and fascinating. Years ago, when I used to hike in the area quite often, I would come over just to enjoy the atmosphere.

  9. I’m not sure what is more stunning and gorgeous and lovely and beautiful…. the castle post… or the wee addition? Wait, yes, I’m sure it’s the wee addition! ❤

  10. What a wonderful place to visit! I have got to get to Ireland and visit some of these places! And your pictures are fabulous as always!

  11. I like this hidden gem of a castle,Inese. The way the old stone decays and looks antiquated, makes me imagine it in better times.
    I also am so excited about your new precious girl grandbaby! She is so beautiful and perfect, Inese. She will be a blessing and jewel to all who meet her. ❤

      1. I know how happy life becomes when a new member of the family comes along, Inese. She already has changed the dynamics of the membership. ❤ 🙂

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