Farney Castle

Farney Castle Visitor centre

As well as being the Cullen family home, Cyril Cullen Knitwear and porcelain is designed and produced in the converted ‘old stables’ in the castle courtyard. The unique parian/porcelain designs are sold in what was the old dairy at Farney castle, the knitwear boutique is situated in the original kitchen of the castle and a coffee shop is situated in the 15th century round tower.It is the only Round Tower in Ireland occupied as a family home. Tours of the castle are available daily and harp recitals take place in the drawing room by arrangement.

The History of Farney Castle

The first castle was built at Farney in 1185 and this would have been a timbered structure. The present round tower was built in 1495 by Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond, and it was part of a defensive system created by the Butlers to protect their land in Tipperary. The Butlers were in Farney Castle for 500 years but in 1536 the castle was confiscated by King Henry VIII of England. He returned the lands again to the Butlers in 1538 when he married Anne Boleyn who was the daughter of James, 3rd Earl of Ormond. Subsequently the castle was occupied for short periods by two other English monarchs namely King James 1st from 1617 – 1625, and King George 1st from 1716 -1721.

In 1649 Cromwell landed in Ireland and shortly after 1650 a Cromwellian soldier named Hulett took over the castle. Then in 1660 Capt. William Armstrong, a Cavalier who supported the Stuarts and who fought against Cromwell, acquired the castle and lands, and there were Armstrongs in the castle for the next 200 years. William Armstrong came from a Scottish Border country family which was famed in the sixteenth century for its ferocity, and in 1677 he purchased large estates in the area including Holy Cross Abbey and Holy Cross lands.

The round tower is 58 ft. high and has five stories. It is unusual in being circular whereas the majority of this sort of tower were square or oblong. It possesses a mural staircase (built within the thickness of the walls) off which it appears that secret rooms still exist undiscovered. The main door was opened up by Cyril Cullen having been closed for 200 years. There is a “murdering hole” over the main door and this enabled the castle defenders to shoot from above at any intruders. The tower castles were built to safeguard the Butler lands during the long periods when the family was away in England.

Cyril Cullen Studios at Farney Castle

Each year,  Cyril creates new designs in a combination of Parian and duck-egg blue porcelain. The unglazed Parian is used to highlight the faces and hands of the figurines and patterns and decorations of the vases. The subtly contrasting duck-egg blue glaze creates a wonderfully delicate result.

‘I have always put extra emphasis on perfecting the features of the figurines. I never wanted to paint the faces but rather let light and shade do the work.’ – Cyril Cullen

Knitwear Designs at Farney Castle

Intent on using natural and organic fibres and yarns, Cyril uses the wool from his rare flock of Jacob sheep. There is no dye used in these unique garments and the fleece of a single sheep can provide dark browns, light browns and greys. Another unique feature of a Cyril Cullen garment is the addition of porcelain buttons with his initials ‘CC’ carved in Celtic script.

Cyril’s beautiful collection of lightweight linen and cotton dresses, tops, skirts and scarves are also showcased in the boutique at Farney Castle. His trademark, handknit frill, features on a number of his complex creations. 

Music by The Cullen Harpers of Farney Castle

Cyril & Margie’s four daughters, Emily, Benita, Tara & Margot –  The Cullen Harpers – are multi-award winning performers and composers. They have performed all over the world and are available individually or as a group for weddings, functions, corporate gatherings and special events. For more information, contact Margot at cullen.margot@gmail.com



  1. John Grimes Says:

    I know Ireland is not nearly as big as Texas , but where are you. . . .what large city is nearest you ?

  2. Thanks for the ‘like’ lizoconnor 🙂

  3. Joan Haye Says:

    Beautiful place.! Finally got to see it on the web, Ted L

  4. Katherine Hogan Says:

    Visited your castle and shop.I purchased a Jacobs Wool hat and it is admired by all who see it. I sometimes put a broch or a piece of felt on a pin and it gives the hat a great lift.
    Thanks for producing the wool. Much appreciated especially on a cold winters day!!!!
    Katherine Hogan
    Co. Kilkenny.

    • That’s wonderful Katherine, delighted you are enjoying your Cyril Cullen creation. Lovely idea to customise it with a little embellishment too. The weather has certainly changed so I’m sure it will come in handy alright. We do matching Jacob scarves too, if you feel like making a set!

      Thanks for contacting us,

      All the best,

      The Cullens

  5. Susan Spina Says:

    I hope this note finds your family well. It’s been 2 years since our visit to Ireland. Your home was one of the highlights of our trip. You and your wife were so gracious to our family – pointing out historic tidbits to our oldest son, asking our middle son about his musical interests, and pointing out special stitching on a knit dress to our daughter who is interested in design. I lived in my Cyril Cullen sweater this past cold and snowy winter in New Jersey. Thank you for the wonderful memories. Susan Spina

  6. Brian McKinley Says:

    I feel a bit foolish for not being able to find this information myself, but are tours given Sunday’s and, if so, what time do they start?

  7. Brian McKinley Says:

    And I found it. No tours Sunday. Sorry to bother.

    • Apologies Brian, only seeing this now! If you haven’t already been, call into us mon-sat tours daily and give us a call on 0504-43281 beforehand to guarantee tours are taking place.

    • Mary Cabezas Says:

      I visited Farney Castle about 5 years ago and
      enjoyed the tour and meeting Mr and Mrs Cullen,
      but I fell in love with Cyril’s breathtaking porcelain
      and purchased a piece. I was in Ireland several times since and had planned to return May 11, 2020
      but the virus happened.
      Someday I want to buy more of this exquisite
      China- I have not seen anything ever like it!
      Mary Finnegan Cabezas, South Carolina USA

  8. Eilis Gaffney Says:

    After 20 years of passing this castle, we were so delighted today to get a chance to call in. It was just a short visit but most interesting and I will be back to see the rest of this place and the amazing paintings. Small world Cyril- from the Colemans in Newport.

  9. Deirdre Ryan Says:

    Hi. My father Joseph Ryan recently visited Farney Castle when he went home to Thurles for a visit. He bought from your shop two beautiful coats for my sister and I. Truly beautiful craftsmanship !
    I looked up online the FARNEY CASTLE VISITOR CENTRE. Just wanted to make one small correction. Anne Boleyn’s father was Thomas, not James. Thomas Boleyn was the 1st Earl of Ormond and also Earl of Wiltshire.
    Lovely to browse your website.
    Deirdre Ryan

  10. Jessica Says:

    We loved our visit to Farney Castle. We came in October of 2013 and it remains a fond memory from our trip. Cyril, I emailed you a while back to see if there is a way I could order a new hat for my aunt. When we came to visit my aunt bought a lovely wool hat, since then her home caught fire and burnt down. The hat was felted by the restoration company. I’d love to surprise her with a new one from you. I can send you a picture of her wearing it so you can see the color and style. Maybe i can call and pay for the hate ans shipping by phone? let me know.

  11. Brian Says:

    Cyril, Margie, that was an incredible Tour. Cyril you are a super guide and my kids are discussing your place at this hour so clearly they loved it. What an incredible place to live, the life most dream of. The work you produce Cyril is priceless, we were glad to come away with some. And like myself you are clearly a proud father, a very talented family and i will YouTube some of their performances. I’ll head home telling all your place is a must visit, we’ll definitely be back

  12. Cyril Cullen Says:

    My family is considering a trip to Ireland. We are located in the northern portion of New York State-USA. My name is also
    Cyril Cullen. The family history may show family ties. Maybe a visit to your area would tell us more.
    Best regards,

  13. Paige Cummings Says:

    It has been almost twenty years since our trip to Ireland. I insisted on seeing the “Jacob’s Sheep” near Holy Cross Cathedral, and my poor husband had no idea what I was talking about, We actually crashed (and enjoyed) a wedding at Holy Cross, before we continued on our way to Farney Castle. It was such a pleasure to spend two hours drinking tea with Cyril, discussing how he got started in the knit wear business, his sheep- I still have a photograph of him feeding his peacocks. I have a Jacob’s sheep sweater coat and hat that I wear every winter. Still in the most beautiful condition. Can’t wait to finally go back.

    • What a lovely message. Many thanks for getting in touch. You are most welcome to visit us at Farney anytime. Give us a ring on 050443281 before your visit just to make Cyril and Margie are home. All the very best,

      The Cullens 🙂

  14. Amelia Farney Says:

    I sooooo want to go there one day😩

  15. Dave Yeates Ireland Tours Says:

    Good Evening would you able to cope with a group??

  16. Anne Byrne Says:

    Would love to visit

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