Lackeen Castle, built possibly in the early 15th century is a fine example of an Irish tower house.
Situated a few miles north west of Lorrha in North Tipperary.
Lackeen belonged to Brian Ua Cinneide Fionn, chieftain of Ormond, who died in 1588. The castle passed to his son Donnchadh, the last Ua Cinneide chief of lower Ormond who further fortified by building a bawn - a defensive wall (of which little remains other than a low wall) against the Cromwellians and ended up surrendering in 1650’s .
The name ‘Ua Cinneide’ meaning Cinneide is the Irish word for ‘Helmeted Head, was anglicised to 0‘Kennedy’.
An aerial view of Lackeen
In post Cromwell times, the Kennedy family regained possession of Lackeen Castle in the 18th century. Whilst renovating Lackeen John O'Kennedy discovered a 9th Century manuscript hidden in the castle walls. Written in Latin, this manuscript, the Stowe Missal, was a mass book of the early Irish Church. The missal was in use at the monastery of St. Ruadhan in Lorrha, Co. Tipperary around the year 1050 and at some point was hidden at Lackeen for safe keeping.
The Stowe Missal was eventually sold to Duke of Buckingham and in 1883 purchased by the British Government which in turn returned it to the Royal Irish Academy and can be viewed online here :-
Folklore tradition states that O'Kennedy from Lackeen Castle is one of the few men to have caught a Púca, a fairy shape shifter, capable of assuming a variety of terrifying forms.
The story goes that O'Kennedy was chasing some hags whom he had caught stealing from a body left for burial, when the hags called on the Puca to protect them.
With red eyes and nostrils flaming with fire, the creature came at O'Kennedy.
Luckily he was as strong as an ox and as fast as lightning and he slashed at the creature with his sword, sending him flying. O'Kennedy had the Púca tied up and slung over his back in no time with the diabolic creature cursing the whole way back to Lackeen Castle, for not one of his kind had ever been caught.
Arriving back at Lackeen, O'Kennedy called on his servants to help him with his prize.
The Púca shouted to all “If you dare to bring me in your castle I'll burn you all with my breath and you'll be truly gone to the blazes!”
A servant Tim O'Meara, being loyal to O'Kennedy opened up the castle but pleaded with his master, “For goodness' sake let the creature loose or neither yourself, nor your family nor none of us will have any peace or ease, or be able to get a decent night's sleep again!”
Eventually O'Kennedy listened to the advice of his servant and let the Púca go, but first took a promise that the Púca would harm no breed, seed or generation of the O'Kennedy family.
Over the years many people have seen the shapes of an otherworldly creatures lurking about Lackeen Castle but so far the Púca has kept his promise.
Lackeen Castle is owned by the Irish State and is freely open to the public.
Do be very careful if you visit!