Ireland Castles: Unofficially it is estimated that Ireland has more than 30,000 castle and castle ruins. These castles are said to be built by the island’s most powerful families between the 11th and 15th century. They served to be defensive homes. Though most of these castles were abandoned and left to lie as ruins, some of the castles are still intact and found new purpose such as Smarmore Castle. Many of these fortified castles were also restored to their former glory and can now be explored by tourists. Whether you want to seek out deserted countryside homes, kiss the Blarney stone or get married in an Irish Castle, or simply sleep in luxury at some of these royally impressive sites. Here are the best Ireland castles you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Ireland.
Ireland Castles you shouldn’t miss!
- Blarney Castle
- Kilkenny Castle
- Rock of Cashel
- Bunratty Castle
- Dublin Castle
- Trim Castle
- King John’s Castle
Also Read: Travel guide to Limerick Ireland
Blarney Castle • Blarney, Ireland
The Blarney Castle is where the famous Blarney Stone is located. This is definitely one of the most visited castles in Ireland. Partially in ruins, this Irish castle is something more than mere flattery. The original structure was built by MacCarthys of Muskerry in 1210 and it is believed that the Blarney stone was added to the tower in 1446. Tourists can explore the lake surrounding the castle along with the ancient centre of Worship, Rock Close and the world-famous Stone of Eloquence. Known as the Blarney Stone, the legend has it that those who kiss the stone will be granted the gift of gab. Give the stone a kiss and find out for yourself!
Kilkenny Castle • Kilkenny, Ireland
The Kilkenny Castle is a twelfth-century castle that was remodelled in the Victorian times. This castle was built by Norman settlers in 1195 AD along the River Nore. The dramatic Kilkenny Castle sits Majestically on the River Nore and dominates the “high town” of Kilkenny City. The castle is now restored and is owned by the state and managed by the Office of Public Works. It is open to the public and the visitors can explore the castle and its lavish interiors and the Gardens and parks surrounding it.
Rock of Cashel • Cashel, Ireland
The Rock of Cashel is also known as Cashel of the Kings. The locals believe that the rock of Cashel is said to have been built by the King of Munster, Muirchertach Ua Briain at the Devil’s Bit mountain after a heated argument between Satan and Saint Patrick. At this Castle, you get to explore the ruins of the grand Celtic cathedral and also some of the oldest Romanesque wall paintings in entire Ireland. These paintings are said to have been hidden from public eyes until the 1980s. This Ireland Castle is an Irish National Monument and holds great historical significance.
Bunratty Castle • Bunratty, Ireland
The Bunratty Castle is one of the most complete and authentic medieval fortresses in Ireland. Built-in the 15th century, the Bunratty Castle is a showstopper within its own right. Your visit to this castle is not complete without exploring the adjoining Folk Park. The Folk Park houses a recreated village and a rural setting. It is here you get to experience 19th-century village life in Ireland. It is truly a one-of-a-kind Irish experience!
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Dublin Castle • Dublin, Ireland
The Dublin Castle was built by the MacNamara Family in 1492 over a previous Viking settlement. The history of Dublin is rooted in the rebellion and this can be traced back to Dublin Castle. This castle served as a prison or dungeon in the past and is now a major Irish government complex. It’s significance during the English reign made it the most important target during the Easter Rising of 1916 ( the first step to the end of British rule in Ireland). Currently this castle and its surrounding park are run by the Shannon Heritage Group. It is also one of the National monuments of Ireland.
Trim Castle • Trim, Ireland
The Trim Castle is the largest castle built by Normans in Ireland. The castle was built around the 12th century by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter. The construction of this huge and massive castle was completed over a thirty years period. It includes a storied keep, a central stronghold and also a breathtaking twenty-sided tower. The castle is currently owned by the State and is managed by the Office of Public Works. It is believed that 6 million Euros were spent on restoring this castle.
King John’s Castle • Limerick, Ireland
The Kings John Castle was originally an island Viking settlement. Overlooking the River Shannon, King John’s Castle dominates the city of Limerick. Built in the 13th century by King John, this castle is named after him. This is definitely one of the must-see Ireland castles on your Irish vacation. The newly-renovated visitor centre in this castle is home to an engaging and interactive historical exhibit exploring 800 years of the history of Ireland.
Aslo Read: Best Things to Do in Bray Ireland
Ireland Castles you can stay in!
Does is sound good? Isn’t it a great idea to stay in one of the castles and experience an Irish royal luxury? If it is a yes, then make sure to add the below castles to your itinerary.
- Ashford Castle
- Lough Eske Castle
- Dromoland Castle
Ashford Castle • Cong, Ireland
The Ashford Castle is a medieval castle that is now turned into a 5-star Victorian-style luxury hotel. The castle was built in 1228 AD by the Anglo-Norman De Burgo family. This stunning 5-star property went through a number of different ownerships. Most notably it was also owned by the Guinness family (known for producing the popular Irish stout of the same name). The current owner of the property is Red Carnation Hotels. Make sure to visit the second floor which has the gallery of the photographs of some of the notable guests of this castle such as John Lennon, Oscar Wilde, Brad Pitt and even John Wayne!
Lough Eske Castle • Lough Eske, Ireland
The Lough Eske Castle is a 19th-century castle with idyllic views surrounded by the breathtaking Lough Eske lake on one side and the Blue Stack Mountains on the other side. This castle hotel combines both the modern comforts with its historic past. The original castle dates back to the 1400s. However the current building, the new Lough Eske Castle was constructed in the early 1860s.
Dromoland Castle • Dromoland, Ireland
The Dromoland Castle was once the ancestral home of descendants of Ireland’s only High King. Though the original building dates back to the 15th or 16th century, the present structure was built in 1835 by Thomas, the son of Shane Mac Anerheny. This castle is not just converted into a five-star hotel, it also has one of the best golf courses in it. Spread over a 450-acre estate this castle also has a lake and spa within its complex.
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