The Top Ten Castles to visit in Ireland

If you’re looking for castles then look no further. Ireland is a country rich in history and you can’t go very far without seeing beautiful turrets on the skyline. There are hundreds of castles in various states of repair in Ireland but these are the top ten that you must visit!

  1. Cabra Castle

Cabra castle is a beautiful 4 star hotel on the border of County Cavan and County Monaghan. The castle originally belonged to the O’Reilly family until it was taken off them in the mid 17th century on Cromwell’s orders. The castle fell into many different hands over the years but always remained in the Pratt family. In 1964 the Brennan family bought the castle and converted it into a 20 bedroom hotel. It was sold in 1986 to an Arab family who used it as their own residence. In 1991 it was sold once again to the Corscadden family who have transformed the castle into the amazing 4 star property it is today. The castle rooms retain the old medieval grandeur while they also have more modern courtyard rooms. The Derby bar and Courtyard Restaurant are sure to satisfy any taste’s!

 

 

2. The rock of Cashel

Probably one of the most recognisable castles in Ireland, this magnificent structure lies just at the edge of Cashel in Tipperary. Legend has it that the devil took a bite from a nearby mountain (known as the Devils Bit) and in the process broke his tooth. He dropped the piece of rock and the Rock of Cashel was built on top of it. The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the King of Munster. The Castle is steeped in history and you can visit it all year round. Adult admission is only €7.

3. Athlone Castle

Situated right in the centre of Ireland in County Westmeath Athlone Castle dates all the way back to 1129. Athlone and the castle are steeped in history and it was here that the notorious Cromwellian transplantation policy was enforced. The Castle has a brand new visitor centre and is open all year round. Admission for adults is only €8.

 

4. Cahir Castle

Nestled along the banks of the river Suir in County Tipperary, Cahir Castle is one of the largest in Ireland. It dates back to 1142 when it was built by the O’Brien family. It was granted to the Butler family in the late 14th century. The castle was left to the Irish state in the 1960’s after Lord Cahir died. The castle has been refurbished and is now the home of an impressive audio visual show that tells you all about the Castle’s history. It is open all year round and entry is €5 for adults.

5. Castle Saunderson

This immense structure is situated on the border of counties Cavan and Fermanagh and has fallen into disrepair. The Castle grounds were closed off to the public up until 2012 when an international scout centre was opened on the grounds. There are now lovely walks in and around the estate for everyone to enjoy. The castle was once the home of Edward Saunderson, the founder of the Ulster unionist party. It was sold in 1977 to a local businessman and was to be opened as a hotel. Before this happened though the castle was destroyed by a fire.

 

6. King Johns Castle

King John’s Castle is situated on Kings Island in Limerick city. It was built on the order of King John in 1200 but he never actually visited it. The Castle fell victim to a number of sieges down through the years but the external walls and turrets are still standing. After a multimillion refurbishment it was reopened to the public in 2013 and now houses an amazing visitor centre. This includes a state of the art audio visual exhibition, a courtyard, new cafe and gift shop. Its open all year round and an online ticket for adults cost €10.50.

7. Ross Castle

Beautiful Ross castle is situated just outside the tourist hub of Killarney in County Kerry. The castle was built in the late 15th century and was the stronghold of the O’Donoghue Ross chieftains. The ownership of the castle changed hands down through the years but legend has it that O’Donoghue leaped out of one of the windows of the castle and now lives at the bottom of the lake in a great Palace. Keeping an eye on everything no doubt. The castle is open all year around and its €5 for an adult. Entry into the castle is by guided tour only.

8. Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh castle is situated among the stunning surrounds of Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal. This is a much younger castle as it was built by Captain John George Adair in 1870. Captain Adair was known as a cruel man who evicted tenants off their land in order to have a better view from the castle. A curse was put on the Castle which resulted in none of the subsequent owners being able to bear heirs to the family name. The castle was left to the Irish state in the 1970’s so that Glenveagh National Park could be created. The castle is open from January to October. Entry is €7 for adults.

9. Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle is situated right on the shores of Galway bay in County Galway. This beautiful tower house was built in the 16th century by the O’Hynes clan. It passed to a few different families down through the years, most notably Oliver St. John Gogarty. Irish literary figures would meet here such as W.B Yeats, Lady Gregory and George Bernard Shaw. It was restored in the 1950’s by Christobel Lady Amptill. Further restoration was completed by Shannon Development who now own the property. The castle is open from April to mid September and cost of entry is €5.25 for an adult.

10. Bunratty Castle

Our number Ten must visit castle is Bunratty Castle in County Clare. There have been 4 different structures built in Bunratty, all of which were attacked and burned. The present structure survived and now tells the story of the Earls of Thomond. The castle is famous all over Ireland for its amazing banquets that entertain visitors from all over the world. A re-enactment of life in the castle takes place at the banquets. The folk village attached to the castle dates back to the 19th century and is a perfect complement to the castle. Entry into the castle and park is €11.55.

 

So if your planning a trip back in time this spring or summer then make this list your castle bucket list! As always- Happy Galavanting xxx

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