Knockgraffon Castle

The barony of Cahir was granted to Philip Worcester in 1192 when, according to the Four Masters, the English of Munster attacked King Donal Mor MacCarthy and ‘in the course of that expedition erected castles at Knockgraffon and Kilfeakle'.   Previously to Knockgraffon was known as Rath Fionn and has been claimed to have been the coronation site of the kings of Munster.  In the summer of 1200 King John of England sold to William Braose for 5,000 marks all the lands of Philip Worcester and Theobald Walter in Ireland.  However Philip regained part of his lands by warfare and Theobald bought his back for 500m, Hovedene IV, 152-3.  Philip's warfare was obviously reasonably successful for in Aug 1202 he was ordered to hand over to Braose, the castle of Cnocgrafon and the other castles of the honour of Limerick' which the king had recently given him'.  Presumably the castle and lands had reverted to Philip on Braose's downfall in Ireland in 1210, but it was only on 6 July 1215 that the king ordered the 5 cantrefs of south Tipperary including the castle of Knockgraffan should be given to Philip.

Before 1214 Philip's daughter Felicia Worcester married the Welsh Marcher, Geoffrey Camville, the lord of Llanstephen.  He died before 1220 and in that time had founded an Augustinian priory at Cahir.  Usually castle and abbey were joint foundations.  This quite probably suggests that Knockgraffon and Cahir might have been separate foundations, with Knockgraffon being the caput of the lordship and Cahir the seat of Philip's daughter and son-in-law.  It is certain that Geoffrey and Felicia were married by 1214 and probably as early as 1200.  This can be suggested as Geoffrey was probably lord of Cahir by the turn of the century.  Certainly when Cahir priory was founded in the late decade of the twelfth century, the prior was listed as a witness to one of the documents contained in the register of the hospital of St. John's Dublin.  In this, a grant to the hospital by Geoffrey Camville, the prior John is described as the first prior of Kaherdunesche.  This shows that the priory was a relatively recent foundation at this time and as this is the same Geoffrey was baron of both Cahir and Fedamore in Co. Limerick, this would explain the links between the priory and Fedamore throughout the medieval period.  The likelihood of this being the case is increased when it is considered that on 21 April 1225, William Worcester fined with King Henry III for having his four cantrefs in Meath that had belonged to his uncle, Philip Worcester as well as seisin of his ‘castle of Cnoccraffan'.  It seems unbelieve that William would have been granted Knockgraffon castle by name and not Cahir, if it were the caput of his barony.  Finally there is the evidence, that when Philip Worcester was out of favour with King John, Knockgraffon was granted to Geoffrey Camville in custody as the king ordered him to return it to Philip on 26 July 1215.  It is therefore more than likely that Geoffrey was lord of Cahir and briefly held the custody of Knockgraffon for the king.


Copyright©2017 Paul Martin Remfry

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