Found on river banks, rocky coastlines, or wooded parks, here are ten of the best castles in Ireland that everyone needs to see.
Ireland’s long and tumultuous history is intertwined with both Irish kings and British royal intervention, and one of the remaining leftovers of this are many stunning, historic castles that are scattered throughout the Emerald Isle.
Ireland is now a republic, and thus castles no longer have any official connection to the state or power. With over 30,000 castles and their ruins to be found throughout the country, here are ten Irish castles we think everyone needs to see.
10. Blarney Castle (Co. Cork) – kiss the stone
Blarney Castle is famous for the ‘Blarney Stone’, located at the top of the castle. It is believed that kissing the stone bestows upon the culprit the ‘gift of the gab’.
This once medieval fortress was built over six hundred years ago by former Irish chieftain Cormac MacCarthy, and is now “one of Ireland’s greatest treasures”, according to the castle’s website.
Address: Monacnapa, Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland
9. Cahir Castle (Co. Tipperary) – overlook the river
The Cahir Castle has long been embedded in Irish history, having been built in the 13th century by Conor O’Brien, Prince of Thomond.
The Irish castle’s impressive remains hug the River Suir in County Tipperary, and it stands today as one of the country’s largest castles.
Address: Castle St, Townparks, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, E21 P652, Ireland
8. Malahide Castle (Co. Dublin) – escape the city
The beautiful Malahide Castle is enveloped in a vast parkland estate named the Malahide Demesne Regional Park, which dates back to the 12th century.
Green bushes have found a home on the castle’s exterior to add an extra dimension to it, and it is certainly worth visiting as it is nine miles from the capital.
Address: Malahide, Co. Dublin, Ireland
7. King John’s Castle (Co. Limerick) – full of history
One of the castles in Ireland that everyone needs to see is King John’s in Limerick City, famous now for hosting incredible outdoor concerts.
The castle salutes the famous River Shannon and contains 800 years of history. At the same time, its walls were severely damaged in the 1642 Siege of Limerick.
Address: Nicholas St, Limerick, Ireland
6. Ashford Castle (Co. Mayo) – modern-day luxury
No Irish castles list would be complete without mentioning this one. Once a medieval and Victorian castle, the breathtaking Ashford Castle is now a luxury five-star hotel fit for its appearance.
The castle was constructed in the 1200s and was purchased by a member of the Guinness family in 1852.
Address: Ashford Castle Estate, Cong, Co. Mayo, F31 CA48, Ireland
5. Castle Saunderson (Co. Cavan) – explore the ruins
The imposing structure was acquired by the Saunderson family during the Plantation of Ulster and lies in ruin today. It maybe have been the best castle in Ireland back in the day.
Despite this, the surrounding caters for several brisk walks and the grounds are now used as an international scout centre.
Address: Castlesaunderson Demesne, Belturbet, Co. Cavan, H14 X650, Ireland
4. Glenveagh Castle (Co. Donegal) – a modern masterpiece
Undoubtedly one of the castles in Ireland that everyone needs to visit is the remarkable Glenveagh Castle, housed in Glenveagh National Park, Donegal.
The castle was built between 1867 and 1873 so is relatively modern. The long walk through Glenveagh is capped off by your tour of the castle.
Address: Glenveagh National Park, Gartan Mountain, Church Hill, Co. Donegal, F92 HR77, Ireland
3. Bunratty Castle (Co. Clare) – a taste of all history
Bunratty Castle is one of the most famous in all of Ireland and may be the best castle in Ireland. It stands as a fortified tower house in County Clare, built in the 1400s, and straddles the River Raite in the west of Ireland.
The castle is showered in history spanning a thousand years, as it has been occupied by the Vikings, the Normans, Irish Earls, and more.
Address: Bunratty West, Bunratty, Co. Clare, Ireland
2. Rock of Cashel (Co. Tipperary) – one of the best castles in Ireland
One of the most famous Irish castles and landmarks in Ireland is the Rock of Cashel. It’s a magnificent structure isolated in the Tipperary countryside encircled by endless green.
The tower block stretches back to the 12th century, and the Rock was the traditional seat of the King of Munster, and is now easily accessible.
Address: Moor, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
1. Dunluce Castle (Co. Antrim) – the coastline ruins
The best castle in Ireland that we believe everyone should see is Dunluce Castle in County Antrim, which teases the north-Antrim coastline atop its coastal cliffs.
The castle now lies in ruins, but its scenic surroundings give it a deserved place in number one. The castle was built in the 13th century and has been left to ruin since the Battle of the Boyne.
Address: 87 Dunluce Rd, Bushmills BT57 8UY
Next time you’re in Ireland, make sure to visit any of these stunning castles, bringing to life the fascinating story of Ireland.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How many castles are there in Ireland?
There are over 30,000 castles and ruins on the Emerald Isle.
2. What is the oldest castle in Ireland?
Kilbrittain Castle is the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland. It is located in County Cork and was built in 1035.
3. What is the largest castle in Ireland?
At a whopping 322,917 square feet (30,000 square metres), Trim Castle is the largest Cambro-Norman castle in Ireland.
4. What is the best castle tour in Ireland?
We’ve put together a list of the ten best castle tours in Ireland which will help you decide the one for you.
5. Are there any castles in Ireland that can be used for a wedding?
Yes, there is! Here is our list of the ten best castles in Ireland for a wedding.