Explore These Historic Castles in Ireland
Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, whereas Ireland is known as the Land of 30,000 Castles. Can you call yourself Celtic if you have never heard of at least a few of the castles in Ireland?
A Bit Of History Of the Castles In Ireland
Castles in Ireland date back many years before the Anglo-Norman invasion. Castles as fortresses and war advantages did not come until the 12th century when the Anglo-Normans began arriving in Ireland.
One of the first examples, the king of Connacht, Tairdelbach Ó Conchobair, secured his power by constructing three separate castles. Later, he added many more as a show of his strength.
As mentioned, Blarney Castle is one of the more well-known due to the Blarney Stone. Ever since 1446, tourists have ascended the ten stories to reach the stone, then hung upside down to kiss it. The legend says if you do this, the gift of eloquence becomes yours.
What Celt would pass on a chance for such a gift? Blarney Castle sits on 60 acres of gorgeous flower gardens for you to explore. It is no wonder why it is always on the list as one of the best places to visit in Ireland!
The Dublin Castle is an example of the many different uses the Irish had for castles. The castle has served as a prison, the treasury, and the seat of the British government administration. It includes state apartments and a chapel, which you can view during the tour.
Ross Castle was the home of the O’Donoghue Ross chieftains in the Middle Ages. The castle overlooks the lower Killarney lake in Killarney National Park. During the battle against Cromwell, Ross held until 1652 when General Ludlow captured it.
Every seven years on May first, legend says the spirit of O’Donoghue awakens from the waters of Lough Leane. Anyone who spies him riding on top of his horse will have a lifetime of good fortune!
Many of Ireland’s castles are as much what is inside them as the grounds they occupy. The sprawling Talbot Botanic Gardens and 260 acres of parkland encompass Malahide Castle. The grounds are open to the public, perfect for a day of exploring and riding bikes with the whole family.
Going back 820 years, the Talbot family, nobles and politicians, called Malahide home. This castle played a significant part in Irish politics. And if haunted castles are your thing, Malahide is claimed to be one of the most haunted castles in Ireland.
Northern Ireland has its share of castles, and one of the best ones to visit is the Dunluce Castle. Dunluce was a favorite of early Christians and Vikings. The castle was built on top of jagged cliffs, so it was naturally fortified.
Although it dates back to the 13th century, guided tours walk you through ruins from the 16th and 17th centuries. There also is a directed app to download to explore on your own. Make sure to catch the spectacular view of the sunset during your visit!
As seen in the movie Braveheart, Trim Castle is an example of a Cambro-Norman castle. It is a massive complex that began in 1174. The three stories include the great hall and many surviving defense structures.
Get even more in touch with your inner Braveheart by exploring Trim Castle in one of our Irish kilts!
Cahir Castle, meaning stone fort, is one of the largest castles in Ireland and also one of the best-preserved. Constructed in 1142 on an island of the river Suit, the tower house, the keep, and its defense are all intact. The rocky terrain offers beautiful views of the Irish countryside.
Dromoland Castle began as only a tower in the 15th and 16th centuries. Today, the castle contains a five-star luxury hotel, including a Michelin-star restaurant and a golf course. The four turrets lay claim to extraordinary views of the water and gardens.
Dromoland is a favorite of world dignitaries such as United States presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali have also been on the guest list.
Are you looking for an authentic medieval castle and experience? Bunratty’s ground dates back to 970 AD, where it flourished as a Vikings trading camp. Four different castles have resided on this site on Raite River.
In the 1960s, Bunratty was restored, including the art and furnishings of the 15th-century. Bunratty also hosts a traditional medieval feast with food such as giant turkey legs, potato soup, and goblets of mead. The feast is a perfect occasion to wear your Celtic outfits and accessories!
King John Castle
Another Vikings landmark location, King John Castle, sits on St. John’s Island, on the River Shannon. This Irish castle was built in 1200. For the history buffs, the tour includes interactive displays for battles, siege, and warfare.
Many people dream of staying overnight in a castle, and Ashford affords you that opportunity. The Victorian Era castle boasts a five-star luxury hotel. You can even book it for your fairytale wedding!
Ashford was built in 1228 and the interior was adorned in gold. Many well-known guests have stayed, including President Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, and John Lennon.
National Geographic designates Ashford Castle as a Unique Lodge of the World for its glistening interiors and remarkable views.
There Are So Many Castles In Ireland
Above is a small sampling of the 30,000 castles that dot the Irish landscape. Each castle offers opportunities to learn about Irish history through architecture, art, furniture, military happenings, and landscape. Take in a castle or two on your next trip to Ireland!
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