The original motte and bailey fortification on this site was built in 1213 and was known as King John’s Castle. It was not until 1281 that the castle was built with stone under the direction of the Bishop of Killaloe. It was then granted to the Butlers of Ormond in 1315 who held it until the early 18th Century. The castle has just about managed to survive through the years of Ireland’s turbulent history. Just before the Cromwellian invasion Eoin Roe O’Neill, at the head of 1,200 men, stormed Roscrea in 1646 and reportedly killed every man, woman and child. The only survivor was the governor’s wife, Lady Hamilton, who was a sister to the Earl of Ormond. She was again forced to play host to O’Neill in the castle 3 years later when they again ended the party by looting everything in sight (including the women’s clothing!). In 1703 the Duke of Ormond sold the castle to the King’s Hospital, Kilmainham, and 19 years later it was bought by the Damer family who built an elegant three-storey Georgian house with nine bay windows in the courtyard. During the 1800s it was used as a barracks for soldiers. In 1892 the castle became a national monument and is now under the care of the OPW who have gradually restored it back to it’s former glory. The complex of buildings include an impressive garden, a fountain, a restored mill and the original St Cronan’s high cross and pillar stone.