10 Castles That You Should Visit In Ireland

August 5, 2019

by Shantosh

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A visit to one of Ireland’s many castles is a must-do for any visitor to the island. All of the Irish castles, in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, have their own stories to tell. Besides this, each has a different architectural design depending on the era they were built. Let your imagination take you away on a trip back in time during your visit to these magnificent castles.

 

1.

Cabra Castle

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Photo by Joseph Mischyshyn on Wikimedia Commons

 

Located near the village of Kingscourt in Donegal, Cabra Castle was the home of O’Reilly family. In the mid-17th century, it got confiscated by the order of the Cromwells and was given to Colonel Thomas Cooch. The castle got destroyed during the Cromwellian War and after it was rebuilt, it was renamed as Cormy Castle. Colonel Joseph Pratt bought the castle and decided to rename it back to its original name.

 

In 1964, the Brennan family bought the castle and turned it into a hotel. In the late eighties, it was, for a few years, the private house of an Arab family. When they sold it the new owners, the Corscadden Family, they decided to turn Cabra Castle back in a hotel.

 

Today, the hotel is a great place to spend your vacation in Ireland. 100 acres of parkland and gardens surrounds the hotel and it’s open to the public. Visitors can also take a stroll at the nearby Dún a Rí Forest Park. Cabra Castle can also be used as a great wedding location and is open for bookings. Cabra Castle is open to the public between 11 am and 4 pm daily (though it’s closed from 24th to 25th December). Additionally, for more information, you can visit the castle’s official website.  

 

2.

Bunratty Castle

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Located near the village of Shannon in County Clare, Bunratty Castle was originally a Viking trade camp. The O’Briens, the largest clan in the North Munster, made the castle their stronghold.

 

At the site from Bunratty Castle, visitors can find a great collection of medieval furniture and furnishings. Besides this, there is the possibility of booking a Medieval Banquet. At the nearby Folk park, you can experience Ireland from over a century ago. It still has the original houses and facilities intact.

 

Additionally, there is a playground for children that allows them to play with farm animals. Also, don’t forget to check out the Walled Garden and its beautiful flowers. Additionally, for more information, you can visit the castle’s official website.

 

3.

Kilkenny Castle

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Following the Norman conquest of Ireland, Kilkenny Castle has been founded in the county of Kilkenny about 800 years ago. The castle went through several rebuildings, extensions and adaptations for different circumstances and uses.

 

Kilkenny Castle offers a glance of the Victorian era. It has the typical furniture from these times and houses a collection of paintings. The castle’s parkland consists of fifty acres, with a formal terraced rose garden, woodlands and a man-made lake. Furthermore, there are a tearoom, playground and orienteering trails for visitors. Additionally, for more information, you can visit the castle’s official website.  

 

4.

Belfast Castle

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Located in the Belfast city centre, the first Belfast Castle was built in the 12th century by the Normans. In 1862, the third Marquis of Donegall, a descendant of the Chichester family, decided to build a new castle on the same location.

 

Belfast Castle is a good place to hold dinners, events or weddings. In the surroundings, visitors can find woodlands and parklands. One of Belfast’s famous landmarks, Napoleon’s Nose, is close by in Cave Hill Country Park. Pick up a free map at the reception and choose your own route for orienteering. There is also a playground for children with the site. Additionally, for more information, you can visit the castle’s official website

 

5.

Carrickfergus Castle

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Built in Carrickfergus in 1177 by the Anglo-Norman lord John de Courcy is Carrickfergus Castle. The castle was used throughout its history for many purposes and was also attacked and restored many times. The castle was used as a prison in the late 1790s and one century later it was used as an armoury. During World War I, to protect Belfast Lough, anti-submarine weapons were mounted.

 

Visitors to Carrickfergus Castle can enter several rooms. These include the newly opened costume room, winch room and chapel. Additionally, for more information, you can visit Discover Northern Ireland’s page of the castle

 

6.

Kylemore Abbey

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Kylemore Abbey, built in 1868 by former politician Mitchell Henry as his private home, is located close to Clifden, Connemara. These days, however, it is the home of the Benedictine nuns.  During World War I, nuns from Belgium settled in Kylemore Abbey after their original abbey got destroyed. 

 

There are 1000 acres of woodland and lakeshore to explore around Kylemore Abbey. Visitors can check out the Victorian Walled Gardens, a Mausoleum and a Gothic Church that are on the site. It is located in between Clifden and Westford. Additionally, the natural beauty of Connemara is one of the best you can find in Ireland. Furthermore, children will enjoy making a wish at the Giants Ironing Stone. Additionally, for more information, you can visit the castle’s official website.

 

7.

Blarney Castle

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Blarney Castle, located in Blarney in Cork, is known for the Blarney Stone. The stone was incorporated in the castle’s battlements since 1314 when it was first constructed. Visitors are welcome to kiss the stone to get the “gift of eloquence”. For over 200 years many pilgrims climbed the steps to get this special gift.

 

Around Blarney Castle, you can find the Rock Close, a park which was once a place of Druidic worship. If you pass through you will walk over the “Wishing Steps” as well as an ancient sacrificial altar and a Druid’s Circle. There are also 60 acres of parkland that surround the castle. This parkland exists out of multiple different gardens that are worth discovering. Additionally, for more information, you can visit the castle’s official website.

 

8.

Ashford Castle

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Located in Cong in County Mayo, Ashford Castle was known for being the home of the famous Guinness family for years. It was founded by the Anglo-Norman De Burgo family in 1228 after they have defeated the native O’Connors of Connaught. They constructed many castles in the region but Ashford Castle was the principal stronghold.

 

Nowadays, the castle is a 5-star hotel and only the grounds are open for the public. Still, it is a site worth visiting.

Additionally, for more information, you can visit the castle’s official website

 

9.

Malahide Castle

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Located close to Dublin, Malahide Castle is worth visiting if you don’t have to much time to visit the sites that are further away. The Talbot family founded the castle in 1185. Over the centuries the castle got expanded and modified with strengthened rooms and fortifications. 

 

The Castle is only 10 minutes from the airport and 25 minutes from Dublin City Center. On the site, there are gardens and a butterfly house that are worth a visit. Visitors can also find more than 5000 species of plants in the gardens. Furthermore, there is a fairy trail where children can find fun sculptures, fairy houses and hidden gems.

 

Additionally, for more information, you can visit the castle’s official website.

 

10.

Lismore Castle

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Lismore Castle was built in Lismore, County Waterford by King John in 1185. Sir Walter Raleigh and Richard Boyle were the owners of the castle until it was passed to the Fourth Duke of Devonshire in 1753.  

 

Visitors can find one of the oldest cultivated gardens in this site. From the gardens, there are spectacular views of the castle and the countryside of Blackwater Valley. The castle itself is private property and not open for public. However, there is an art gallery with temporary exhibitions on the site. Additionally, for more information, you can visit the castle’s official website.  

 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, a visit to one of Ireland’s castles allows you to have a glance in Irish history. Indeed, any castle has something different to offer and to see. So if you have any plans to visit the land of the leprechauns, don’t forget to put at least one castle on your to-go list.