Raised from castle ruins to luxurious castle hotels and anything in between, the castles in Ireland has more than enough thrilling experience to offer. With over 30,000 castles, you can hardly travel far in Ireland without having a glimpse of one.
Planning to visit every one of them is nearly impossible. To ensure you have the best castle ventures during your visit, we’ve researched thoroughly about every castle. Below is a narrowed down list of the most magnificent Ireland castles you should visit.
You can decide to make your visit more exciting, as some of the castles offer more than just a glimpse of their majestic size, royalty, and history. Get to experience what it feels like to live in a castle. You can book a room in one of the luxurious castle hotels and spend the night there.
Let’s explore castle tours in Ireland
1. Ballynahinch Castle
Ballynahinch Castle is a fantastic place to visit. Based in the beautiful County Galway, the castle was well designed to give a spectacular view. Transformed into a luxurious hotel, you can explore the history of the castle as well as enjoy its top-notch hospitality services.
While it stands next to a lake, the guests are allowed to go fishing for salmons that are in abundance. Alternatively, there are hiking trails that lead to natural and beautiful surroundings.
The historical significance of the castle began with O’Malley’s and O’Flaherty’s battle in the 14th century. Over the centuries, the castle has undergone different development while shifting in different hands till Grace O’Malley; a popular pirate queen became its owner.
2. Dromoland Castle
Sitting on a 400 acres piece of property, Dromoland Castle is found in County Clare. It is among the top tourist destination and provides a central point from where you can explore various eye-catching sites in the county.
The castle was started as a tower during the 15th & 16th centuries. In the course of the centuries, the castle has been transformed into a luxurious five-star hotel. The castle has a gothic revival style that comprises four castellated turrets that are all connected.
Within the castle vicinity, there are spectacular features that guests can appreciate, such as a stunning garden that is well structured and manicured. Also, there is a great golf course and a large pool of water to wander around.
Besides, the castle has had the privilege to host internationally renowned people such as George W. Bush & Bill Clinton (U.S. Presidents), Muhammad Ali, and Nelson Mandela, among others.
3. Malahide Castle
Malahide Castle is an excellent place for a whole family touring. It has diverse, exciting activities such as castle tours; walled Talbot Botanic Garden exploration; bicycle tour, and even shopping at the retail store and museum shop.
The castle is from the 12th century with elegant rooms such as the large gothic hall, Oak room, handcrafted pieces of furniture, and exclusive collection of paintings. The Malahide Castle is situated 9 miles north of Dublin.
4. Bunratty Castle
If you love art and a bit of history, then this place has it all. It comprises spectacular arts tapestries and handcrafted furniture from the 15th century. To spice up the visit, you can join the medieval feast where you will dine on various delicious meals such as potato soup, turkey leg, goblets, fresh bread, and mulled mead. To make the experience feel more of medieval times, the meals are served on medieval dress code.
The present Bunratty Castle is from the 15th century. With a simple and elegant design, the castle offers both the history of the place and unique artifacts to view and appreciate. To be exact, there are over 450 amazing historical artifacts. Among them are medieval objects and furniture. Additionally, you can experience the old times gathering by booking a banquet to enjoy a medieval feast.
Dating back to the year 1250, Bunratty castle carries along with a history of violence. After its construction, the castles have been destroyed, restored, and even conquered many times over the years by different clans. O’Brien’s and de Clare’s are among the recognized residence of this castle.
Check out more detail about Bunratty Castle
5. Blarney Castle
With a consistent rank among the best castles in Ireland, this is one place you have to visit. It is popular due to the kissing tradition of the Blarney Stone. There is a rumor going around that if you kiss the stone at the top of the castle while hanging upside down, the fortune of eloquence will be upon you. Once you are through with your castle venture and kissing the stone, you still have a stunning 60 acres garden of flowers to explore.
6. Ashford Castle
Have you ever dreamt of living in a castle? At Ashford Castle, your dream can come true. Dating back to 1228th, Ashford Castle has undergone several modifications over the centuries. This includes the expansion of the castle. Currently, the Victorian designed castle is a luxury five-star hotel. You can, therefore, book a king-size room and make your dream a reality. And that’s not all; the castles also provide a venue for wedding occasions.
Apart from the fantastic structure of the castle, the surrounding has gorgeously maintained lawns that you can explore while admiring. Due to the top-notch quality and luxury status of the castle, it has also hosted a good number of influential celebrities. Some of them include Ronald Reagan (the U.S. President), England, Kings (John Lennon and George V). Therefore, if you are looking forward to having a taste of royalty, Ashford Castle is the place to be.
7. Ross Castle
Are ghosts real? Visit the Ross Castle and find out. The majestic castle comes from the 15th century with the tale of ghosts roaming around the castle halls. Besides, the castle is filled with fascinating historical myths that are quite interesting. You will hear all the tales and myths of the castle through a guided tour. The castle also has a historical significance of being among the last strongholds to be conquered by Cromwell’s forces in the mid 17th century. When you are through with the castle tours and its surroundings, you can go for a boat ride on a lake (Killarney lakes) just behind the castle to Innisfallen Island.
8. Rock of Cashel Castle
Rock of Cashel Castle provides a full experience of what it feels like to be in the olden days’ castles. The complex is enormous and contains a 90-foot watchtower that is cylindrical with a cone hat on top. The castle dates back to the early 12th century with a medieval architectural design. Other exciting features of the castle include the outstanding collection of Celtic arts, Cormac’s chapel, and a cathedral from the 12th and 13th century respectively.
9. Donegal Castle
Kilkenny Castle dates back to 1474. Situated along the river Eske bend, the castle has a unique structure that resembles the Jacobean/late medieval country home design than a castle. However, the castle carries a particular undeniable and mesmerizing charm that is hard to resist. It is a must-visit place.
Like any other castle, Donegal Castle has also gone through rough times in the past. At one time, the castle stood as the most beautiful Ireland Gaelic castle, but it was almost brought down by the “Nine Years War.”
After the O’Donnells attempt to destroy the castle, it was quickly rebuilt using the Jacobean style by Sir Basil Brooke, an English Captain. Later in the 17th century, a wall was constructed surrounding the castle along its boundary.
10. Kilkenny Castle
You have to visit Kilkenny Castle once you land in Ireland. Situated an hour away from Dublin, the castle is characterized by beauty and art. Within the castle, you will be able to explore the most beautiful parts of the country since part of the display from the National Gallery is based within the castle. Outside the castle, there is a well-manicured and stunning looking ornamental garden to explore.
The blend of the spectacular design of the castle and that of its ornamental gardens surrounding creates a perfect spot for photography. Historically, the castle depicts Norman Occupation. During your castle tour, you will learn a few stories about the place from the time it was built and its developments over the years.
11. Cahir Castle
A thrilling massive size characterizes Cahir Castle. Found in the southeastern part of the country, it is among the castles that are largest in the whole country. The castle comprises overall gargantuan, massive walls, a moat, a look of confidence, and a bit intimidating. In other words, it’s a perfect definition of a fortress and medieval castle. It’s a great place to visit that has both historical significance and exciting facts to explore.
Cahir Castle was built in the mid 12th century. Despite suffering extensive damage in the centuries due to wars and conflicts, the castle still maintains its structure. Moreover, it is among the few castles whose medieval gates (portcullis) still function.
12. Lismore Castle
Are you searching for a private spot to experience the royal residence? Well, Lismore Castle never disappoints. Restricted from public access in most parts of the year, you can hire the castle to have an experience of how to live like a king. The castle can accommodate a total of 27 guests, a perfect set up for a family gathering.
The general structure of the castle features towers, large indoor courtyards, and many turrets. Thus, it enables you to have a significant exploration during your stay. And that’s not all; there is a mesmerizing view of the Blackwater River from the castle. Through hiring Lismore Castle, you will receive the full package of the royal residence and nothing short of it.
13. King John’s Castle
If you love a bit of history, you definitely can’t miss visiting King John’s Castle. Having a historical significance, the castle is also accessible to anyone landing in southwest Ireland. The location and structure of the castle is a remarkable description of medieval architecture.
The castle construction was initiated in the early 13th century through an order from King John. Earlier in 922, on the same location, it was occupied by Viking settlements. The structure of the castle has impressive curtain walls and cylindrical towers; however, it lacks a square keep.
14. Kylemore Castle
Kylemore Castle’s construction took place in 1867 with the sole purpose of housing the family of Mitchell Henry (he was then a parliament member of England). The castle is 40,000 square feet, 142 feet granite façade, and 70 rooms, giving you plenty of amazing space to explore.
Additionally, there are family mausoleums, Gothic cathedral, Kylemore Abbey, and a spectacular garden that is the largest in Ireland and walled. This provides you with plenty of places to explore when you are not in a hurry.
At the abbey you can also join the history talks about the castle. The talks are held three times a day. For a new closure of your visit to the castle, you can stop by designer shops and abbey’s craft for a great souvenir that depicts Kylemore Castle.
15. Belfast Castle
Dating back to 1870, Belfast Castle still stands in a perfect condition after the renovation that cost £2 million. The strategic location of the castle on a raised ground provides you with an exclusive view of Belfast laugh and Belfast. While at the castle, you have access to an antique shop that sells a wide range of amazing handcrafted objects. There is also a visitor center and restaurant to quench your hunger. Additionally, you can also have an exclusive event by booking the castle as an event.
16. Doe Castle
Doe castle was built to impress, with three of its sides covered with water, the castle appears as if floating on water from a distance. At the center, it has a tower that is four stories high and visible from far.
At a closer look, you will notice the rustic charm of the castle, providing a perfect location for photography. In the past, it was once MacSweeney Clan stronghold. Currently, it’s a cool castle to explore with free admission. However, for a comprehensive insight into the castle, a guided tour will come in handy.
See Also: Best Places to visit in Ireland