Situated three miles south east of Fethard, is the Rock Fortress of Kiltinan Castle. Commanding a fine view of the Suir Valley, stands the ruins of this Medieval Settlement,the ruins of a Medieval Church, a modern Castle and house.
Many suggestions would presuppose a pre-Norman existence, and that would have Kiltinan dating back to 1169. However no records exist to prove or disprove this theory, so it seems unfortunate that most of the missing pieces surrounding the history of Kiltinan can only be pieced together by mere suggestions.
The Castle and Church standing in close proximity to each other supposes the existence of a town and this is true of Kiltinan. Records tell us that the first real experience of settlement and Colonisation in the area did not begin until the coming of Prince John in 1185. Prince John had been sent by his father with a directive that Ireland should be brought under Norman-English Influence.
Later that year in 1185, all of South Tipperary was granted to Phillip of Worcester. The earliest documentary evidence in existence relating to Kiltinan is dated 1199. Phillip had originally come to Ireland as the King’s Representative in 1184. Phillip was known as a brave and honourable man and was apparently very well liked within the Settlement.
In physical appearance, the settlement would have had a road running from east to west like that in Fethard from the Square to Convent Bridge Facing the roadway, the settlers would have built thatched huts for themselves. These huts were erected with much hard work. The walls would have been made by driving stakes into the ground and weaving wattles between them. The wattles would then have been plastered with clay so as to keep out the harsh winds. These huts would have consisted of a single room with a fire in the middle for heating and cooking. The settlement also had a very strong defence force, it is suggested that this probably consisted of stakes driven into the ground at intervals with thorny bushes woven in between The Primary purpose of this would have been to keep out wild animals and to protect the Settlement’s stock at night.
The Settlers who lived in Kiltinan were not predominantly locals as one would have expected, but would have been English settlers who had come, perhaps from the English estates of Phillip of Worcester .These people would have had great Agricultural knowledge and ability to take care of the breeding of stock.
Obviously enough productive land and stock brought more in the way of taxes and wealth to the Lord, and so he would have encouraged such people. What the Lord offered them in return was sufficient, even generous for the times, as they were practically serfs. They had the right to come and go as they pleased and to sell their property without leave.
In short, the terms for their new move would have had to be extremely attractive side by side with those new people, the Irish would have continued to live and work. But it is quite possible that the Irish peasants would have been completely without rights. He was more so a serf than his English counterparts he was a hewer of wood and a drawer of water.
The working day for both freeman and serf would have been both hard and long. They ploughed and tilled the fields, broadcast the corn and cut it with a sickle in the Autumn Milking Cows and saving hay would have been main duties and even small children would have had to protect sheep and cattle from predators all during the daylight hours
When the members of the first ordnance survey of Ireland came to examine the parish of Kiltinan in 1840 they examined the remains of the church here. The first thing that they noticed was the good preservation of the church, which was built of limestone, lime and sand-mortar, and which had a square tower at the eastend. Writing on 18th October 1840, John O'Donovan, the leading Antiquarian with the Ordinance Survey, in his letter to the Director of the Survey says, ‘The figure spoken of is sculptured in a very rude style, on a corner stone in the west gable of the old Church of Kiltinan, near Fethard, which Church is not five centuries old. Little or nothing is known about the rectors who exercised their practices in this little church. The first known is for 1220 when Robert de Vadis was the rector there years passed and by 1615, there was no Church and no curate. The church may well have been abandoned following Henry V111’s break with Rome.
For some, the history lying behind Kiltinan Castle, right up to it’s present day, remains, intriguing. Firstly it is hardly likely that the Worcesters, the founders of this place lived here. The Dunboyne Butlers are the first noble family that we can trace to this place. Records tell us that by 1353 Peter, 2nd Lord Dunboyne had married Katherine the daughter of John de Bermingham, who was lord of Kiltinan. In 1402, Lord Bermingham passed the property on to his cousin who in turn granted Kiltinan in 1410 to Sir Thomas of Butler of Ormond. So, the Dunboynes felt that they had a right to the property by virtue of Marriage A short time later Edmund 5th Lord Dunboyne staked hiss claim to Kiltinan by contending that he had inherited it through his grandmother. But the son of the prior of Kilmainaham, another Edmund Butler also laid his claim to Kiltinan.This situation presented a dilemma which was in due course dealt with by the Earl. He decided that both contestants should be set upon with broad swords on the green before the castle on a A spring day in 1420. The fight was somewhat disappointing as it was seemingly well matched until hours into the match, when Dunboyne was suddenly slain.The Earl’s decision was that the Kilmainham Butlers could continue to hold Kiltinan Some thirty years, later lawyers resolved the issue and after much money had changed hands, Kiltinan was handed over to the Dunboyne family. And for the next 200 years, until Cromwell came to Ireland they were to have the rights of the lord and master there.
Years have since passed since the exploits of the the Castle’s inhabitants have sparked any attention. After Cromwells reign Kiltinan passed through many colourful hands and now remains tastefully restored by its present owner, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.