When you think of visiting Ireland, you probably think of castles. The Emerald Isle is known for its stunning castles and rolling green hills.
If you come to Ireland and don't see a castle, I'd say you didn't truly see Ireland. Irish castles are a part of Irish history and an important cultural legacy.
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Castles All Around in Ireland
Beautiful castles, haunted castles, and tourist attractions...Ireland has it all. Castles, castles everywhere!
If you've ever been to Ireland, you'll understand why I say this. Ireland truly boasts no shortage of castles. In fact, Ireland is home to thousands of castles; dotted around the country from north to south, and from east to west.
Some stand in ruins, but some are gloriously intact, just waiting to welcome you into their great halls and onto their battlements.
Some castles are incorporated into working farm yards, standing as evidence of an ancient past.
Here you'll find some of the most famous Irish castles that are worth visiting on your next trip to the land of the Irish.
Although many of Ireland's castles are in ruins; they are a stunning and beautiful sight nonetheless. Some have been restored, converted into hotels, and open to public viewing.
Whether you want to tour the inside of Ireland's castles or explore the castle grounds, there's a castle or ten for you.
Or perhaps you prefer a ghostly adventure. You can check out my round-up of Ireland's haunted castles here.
7 Irish Castles You Don't Want to Miss
Castles are some of the best places to visit if you want to fully delve into Irish culture and experience the emerald isle.
Let's dive into our list of the best castles in Ireland you won't want to miss.
These castles are open to tourists and provide a beautiful introduction to some of Ireland's most exquisite history and medieval fortresses.
Blarney Castle is a medieval castle or stronghold located near Cork, Ireland. The castle is now a partial ruin with some accessible rooms. At the top of the castle is the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone.
It is said to give you the gift of eloquence. Tourists can hang upside down to kiss the stone and have the gift of eloquence bestowed upon them.
Over the centuries, the castle has changed hands many times but now is owned by the Colhurst family. Blarney Castle is a beautiful example of medieval architecture and is visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Trim Castle stands on the banks of the River Boyne in County Meath. This amazing medieval keep, with its fortified walled enclosure, took 30 years to build.
It is the largest Norman castle in Ireland. The tower building boasts 20 sides and was build in a cruciform shape. Surrounded by a water-filled moat, this castle was built as a defensive structure.
Visitors can climb to the top of the battlements and peer down into the interior of the semi-ruined castle keep. The might of this enormous castle can truly be appreciated as you view the surrounding countryside, just as a lookout might have done nearly one thousand years ago.
This amazing historical structure featured in the movie, Braveheart.
King John's Castle
Located on the banks of the River Shannon in the heart of Limerick city. This amazing medieval castle is an iconic landmark of this city in Munster.
Limerick city was founded in the year 922 by the Viking, Thormodu Helgason. He established a permanent settlement on King's Island, where King John's Castle now stands.
In 1199 King John of England was crowned. He took a keen interest in Limerick City, what would have been considered a very distant outpost of the British Empire at that time.
Visitors to the castle can explore stories of King John, noble knights, and rebellious natives. John was a treacherous ruler, and there are many stories to tell.
King John's Castle tours help bring over 800 years of dramatic local history to life. Visitors can explore these sagas and tales through an indepth array of computer generated animations.
Plus- you know me. I love a good ghost story and there are plenty to be told here.
Nestled in County Clare, Ireland, this 15th century is Bunratty Castle, a tower house tourist attraction run by Shannon Heritage. The castle gets its name from the river next to it that flows into the Shannon estuary.
The structure was originally built during the 14th century. Today, you can visit the restored Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.
You can tour the castle and express yourself in the way of life of the lords and ladies of the castle.
Aside from the incredible Bunratty Castle, Folk Park is worth touring. A rural town has been recreated as it would have been during that period. Enjoy a unique experience and wander around the 26-acre estate and 30 buildings of the 'living' rural town of Folk Park.
Known as one of the best-preserved Irish castles, Cahir Castle is a gem everyone should visit during their start in Ireland.
Known for its appearance in the Excalibur and The Tudors films.
Many tourists flock to the castle. While visiting the grounds, sightseers can enjoy an audiovisual show detailing the castle's long, fascinating history. Tucked in on the banks of the River Suir, Cahir Castle is one you don't want to miss.
The Swiss Cottage in the town of Cahir is alos well worth a visit.
Interested in exploring something a bit more spooky? I've got the perfect haunted castle for you. Dunluce Castle is an important historical marker perched high on a cliff along the causeway coast of County Antrim. It is a long-abandoned ancient Irish castle that is considered an iconic part of Ireland’s architectural culture and history.
Not only was it important in the past, but it's also still a popular location to visit for Irish folks, visitors to Northern Ireland, and historians alike.
Dunluce Castle is close to the town of Bushmills and lies on the northern coast of Ireland between the towns of Portrush and Portballintra.
The archaeological remains of the town of Dunluce have been discovered next to the castle. This town was razed to the ground by the native Irish during an uprising in 1641.
Situated precariously on top of a craggy outcrop of rock, it overlooks the North Channel of the Atlantic Ocean.
But don't be fooled by romantic pictures of this castle's picturesque setting. Shimmering seas reflect majestic sunsets, and waves crashing against black and gray rocks hide tales of ghosts, hauntings, and tragedies.
This castle has a long and tumultuous history, well worth exploring. It's one of the most haunted castles on the island of Ireland.
In built-in 1195 to control a fording point of the River Nore, Kilkenny Castle was a symbol of Norman occupation.
The castle has been rebuilt, and its original structure adapted to a variety of changing circumstances for over 800 years!
Today, visitors enjoy touring over 50 acres of parklands and taking in the recreated 13th-century estate. Complete with tea rooms, a playground, and more for visitors to enjoy in County Kilkenny.
I've decided to toss another bonus castle into the mix! In fact it's a monastery on the site of the seat of the Kings of Munster.
Located in the Golden Vale, the Rock of Cashel is an extraordinary sight of medieval buildings.
If you are fascinated by medieval times, I highly recommend visiting. The Rock of Cashel is an absolutely breathtaking sight. It's no surprise that it is one of Ireland's most visited places.
Plan A Visit to An Irish Castle on Your Next Trip
When planning your trip to Ireland, don't forget to add a few of Ireland's castles to your list of things to see and do. It's also worth noting that some castle ruins are just as amazing.
Castles hold so much of Ireland's rich history that you would be amiss not to see as many as possible. Once you enter the castle walls, you will be transported to another time.
You will find yourself in the breathtaking drawing room or imagining the incredible medieval banquets that must have been held in the original castle.
To fully get the Irish experience consider staying in a castle hotel such as the Ashford Castle or the Kilronan Castle. Skip the luxury hotel and opt for a stay and a beautiful castle instead.
This is only a quick list of some of Ireland's breathtaking castles. I have omitted many. Here are some other amazing castles just waiting to be seen and explored:
- The Rock of Dunamase
- Doe Castle in Donegal
- Ross Castle in Kerry
- Malahide Castle in Dublin
- Donegal Castle in Donegal Town.
- Adare Desmond Castle
- Enniskillen Castle
The list could go on and on. Add your favorite Irish castle in the comment section below.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
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