Top 10 Most Interesting Castles of Ireland: Part 2

30 Best Castles of Ireland

An eventful history of Ireland has left an innumerable number of sights. Castles occupy a special place among these memorable places. Some in our time became hotels or museums. Some are forgotten and destroyed. Somewhere still live descendants of the glorious Irish families. Each castle has its own mysterious history, shrouded in rumors and mysticism about secrets and ghosts.

Most of the castles start their history from XI-XII centuries, from the Celtic times. Originally the castles were built purely for fortification and defensive purposes. They were built of wood and earth, later – of stone. Something was rebuilt, new constructions in new styles appeared. More attention was paid to the castle landscape. The question of restoration and reconstruction of medieval castles even today is relevant in Ireland.

The most interesting medieval castles and fortresses

List, photo with names and description of historical castles.

Dublin Castle

Castle in the capital of Ireland. The construction of the castle was initiated by English King John the Solemn in 1204. In the course of history the castle was destroyed and rebuilt again. Most of the existing buildings date back to the XVIII century. It was built as a powerful defensive structure with high walls and watchtowers, the castle was never besieged. It was the residence of the king, the place of meetings of the court and parliament. Restored and accessible to tourists on days when there are no official ceremonies.

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Dolki

A castle in a Dublin suburb, the small resort of Dolki. Such fortifications were built by the Normans in the fourteenth century to store goods. The local name is Goat Castle. Now this castle is home to a unique Writers Gallery, including Bernard Shaw, Emma Donoghue, Maeve Binchy. Interactive panels with portraits and quotes from more than forty of the country’s writers are combined into a wall map, The Writers’ Trail.

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Ashford

A castle in Mayo County. Built in 1228 on the site of an Irish monastery. Located on the banks of the Cong River and Loch Corrib Lake. During its existence, it has changed owners several times. Currently, the castle operates one of the best hotels in Ireland. This is the opinion of the British King George V, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Brad Pitt, who at one time stayed in this place.

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Dromoland

A castle in the western part of Ireland in County Clare. It was built in 1475. To the south of the castle is a man-made park. For most of its history it belonged to the O’Brien clan. After a change of ownership in 1862, the castle was reconstructed and rebuilt. At present there is a high-class hotel in operation here. Among its guests were John Travolta, Jack Nicholson, Bill Clinton, Muhammad Ali, George Bush.

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Cashel Rock.

A castle in South Tipperary County. For several centuries, Cashel Rock was the residence of Irish kings. St. Patrick lived and preached in this place. It is one of the shrines of Irish lands. The fortification structure on the Rock began to be erected back in the 4th century. Today the castle complex is surrounded by a stone wall. Work on the restoration of the shrines behind this wall on the Rock of Cashel is still in progress. The castle is open to visitors.

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Blarney

It was founded by Dermot McCarthy in County Cork in the mid-15th century. The current structure is the third in these lands. History includes several attempts by Elizabeth I to seize the castle, but the queen never got her way. The main attraction of Blarney is the stone of eloquence. It is part of a sacred relic and is built into the wall. Tourists are encouraged to kiss it to gain the gift of eloquence.

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Castle in Meath County on the banks of the Boyne River. Known as the setting for the movie Braveheart. Considered one of the largest Norman fortifications. The massive and majestic fortress began construction in 1172. In the course of history it was rebuilt, destroyed, changed owners. In 1993 it was transferred to the state. Since then, the reconstruction and restoration of the castle began. In 2000, it was opened to the public.

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Castle in Offaly county. Founded at the end of the XV century. It’s considered one of the most mystical and mysterious castles of Ireland. The bloody clan squabbles of the owners and heirs left many traces in the castle. During a restoration in 1920, a large number of bones were discovered in the dungeons. Locals also speak of a large number of ghosts inhabiting the castle. It is difficult to verify this. Currently, Lip Castle is a private property.

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Malahide

A castle on the outskirts of Dublin. It was founded in 1185. Almost all its history belonged to the Talbot family. One of the few castles, which survived to our time in its original form. Now there is a museum with ancient interiors. Around the castle – a large well-kept park and endless areas of lawns. The rich history and tragedies of the castle gave rise to many legends about ghosts. It is believed that there are five of them in this castle.

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Kilkenny

Castle on the bank of the Nor River. Founded in the XII century. For almost six centuries was the property of the Butler family. During its existence repeatedly rebuilt. Combines various architectural styles. Around the castle was laid out a garden with terraces and ancient fountains. The castle’s halls are luxuriously decorated. Parliamentary meetings and important historical events used to take place here. Nowadays, here take place splendid marriage ceremonies.

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The castle on the island on the river Cher in the south of Ireland, in the county of Tipperary. It was built in 1142. One of the largest and best preserved castles. It has never been destroyed in its history, having surrendered without a fight in all wars. At the highest part of the island is the oldest part of the castle with an inner courtyard and massive towers. On St. Patrick’s Day, it is illuminated with green lights. It is open to visitors daily.

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Glenway

A castle in County Donegal in the north. One of the youngest in Ireland. It was built in 1873 among mountains, forests and lakes. Glenway Castle is a four-story structure with a rounded tower. According to the founder’s plan, it was to surpass the Royal Balmoral in beauty. Around the castle planted a garden of unique species of trees. Currently owned by Ireland, is available to tourists from January to December.

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Bunratty

A castle in the county of Clare. Built in 1425. Bunratty is a classic medieval fortress, at the foot of which there is a park. Repeatedly demolished, changing owners. The last reconstruction of the citadel was completed in 1954. Currently, it is open to tourists all year round. Inside the castle – authentic interiors, original furniture of the Middle Ages and tapestries. Known for its medieval banquets.

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Charleville

One of the most popular architectural landmarks in the country. It is located near the town of Tallmore. The exact date of construction is unknown, changes in design were made up to the 19th century. At the same time the dominant style – Neo-Gothic – remained unchanged. Since the XX century the castle is available to tourists. The interior furnishings are not inferior to the exterior, especially the decorative ceilings.

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Blackrock .

It is located near the town of Krok. It was built by the personal order of Elizabeth I in the XVI century. It was needed for holding back pirates and gangs who ran rampant in the area. It was also used for receptions and other social events. Blackror’s architectural style changed to Neo-Gothic in the 19th century. Since 2001 it was purchased by a private company. After the renovation inside housed offices, a restaurant and observatory.

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Castle in Offaly county. The first mention dates back to 1170. The modern look of the castle was formed in 1620, when a new building was erected. Later, during the reconstruction of the early 19th century, the height of the castle was increased, and it acquired a Gothic look. At the same time a powerful telescope, the largest in the world at that time, was installed there. It is privately owned. The grounds and gardens of the castle are available to the public.

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Castle in County Kerry on the shores of Loch Lane in Killarney National Park. It was built in the late 15th century. The castle itself is a classic Irish fortress with round corner towers and thick walls. The living part is also a tower, but more powerful. Now the castle has been restored and is open all year round. The legend of the castle owner, possessed by an evil force, is told only in group tours. Individual visits are not permitted.

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Huntington

A castle in County Carlow in the south of Ireland. It was founded in the XV century. Originally it was built as a strategic defensive garrison. Later it became an ancestral manor. Till nowadays the castle is surrounded by luxurious man-made gardens with exotic trees, yew alley and artificial ponds. One of the few castles, which in the history of its existence belonged to one family. Descendants of the baronial family Esmond still live here.

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Kilkee

A castle in the county of Kildare. Built in 1180 in the style of Norman castles – a monumental tower on a hill surrounded by paling. At one time the castle was a family residence, was leased, was repeatedly plundered and restored. In the 60s of XX century functioned as a hotel. The castle was used for parties, banquets and wedding ceremonies. After the financial crisis in 2008 closed. But it can be bought or rented.

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The Castle of King John

The castle is located in the city of Limerick on Kings Island. It was built in the early 13th century on the orders of King John the Soleilless. High sturdy walls with loopholes and towers are still well preserved. This is one of the most impregnable fortresses in history in the west of Ireland. At present, there is a museum of weapons of ancient times. Archaeological excavations are still going on in parts of the castle.

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Clifden

A castle in County Galway. It was built in 1818. The castle is in the Neo-Gothic style overlooking Clifden Bay. For several decades after construction was completed, the owners’ family and the castle itself were prosperous. After the Great Famine in 1845, the sad part of this story begins. The owners went bankrupt and the surrounding land began to be divided. Beginning in 1894 the castle was abandoned and gradually fell into disrepair.

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Donegol

A castle in County Donegal in the northwest of Ireland. It was built in the 15th century on the cliff of the River Eske. The castle is small, with elements of Jacobean style. For more than two centuries it lay in ruins. In the 1990s, the castle was renovated, taking into account the style and techniques of the XV century. Local natural materials were used – limestone and sandstone. The castle is now open to the public. It often hosts cultural events.

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Dungweir

A castle in Galway near Kinwar. Built in 1520. During the time of its existence repeatedly changed owners. Stayed in a fairly neglected state. Reconstruction and restoration of the castle in the early XX century engaged the new owner. The restoration was completed in 1954 by another owner. Now it is one of the most popular castles in Ireland. In the summer months, medieval costume banquets are held there, and Irish music is played.

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Carlow

A castle in County Carlow. The first mention dates back to 1231. It was erected on a high hill on the banks of the Barow River. It was one of the first classical donjons – a rectangular stone structure of three stories with rounded towers at the corners. An unsuccessful reconstruction of the castle by one of its owners in 1814 led to its complete destruction. Only the facade of the western wall and two round towers have survived.

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Enniscorthy

A castle in Wexford county. It was built in 1190. It is a massive structure with classic round toothed towers on the perimeter. In different years it was a defensive construction, a prison, a private residence. In 1951 it was given to the state. At present the Wexford County Museum is located here. The last reconstruction of the castle was carried out in 2006. The tour of the castle, including the observation deck on the roof, is now possible even for wheelchair tourists.

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Lismore

A castle in County Waterford. It was founded in 1185. One of the most splendid castles in Ireland. It’s surrounded by a garden with terraces and yew alleys, which were laid when the castle was built. Renovated and equipped with every comfort: from modern bathrooms to wi-fi in all rooms. It is privately owned. Popular as a place to hold wedding ceremonies. Open for visits from March to September.

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Atenray

Belongs to County Galway. Built in 1240. The town of the same name later appeared around the castle. Only the central tower and part of the wall remain of the castle. The interior has been restored in the style of minimalism. Wooden staircase leads to the second and third floors. Moreover, on the last floor there are no windows, so it is dark and the air is always humid. There are informational signs all over the grounds of the Atenray.

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Ballicarbery

It stands on a hill a few kilometers from the town of Carcyvine. The ruins that survived to this day date back to the XVI century. The castle walls and part of the fence are overgrown with moss and ivy. Although the stairs that lead to the conditional second floor are in place, it is not possible to climb them because of safety regulations. There are several legends connected with Ballicarbery. One is about a secret underground tunnel. But it has never been discovered.

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Klononi

The castle was founded before the beginning of the XVI century. Located in the county of Offaly. The central structure – the tower is 15 meters high. It is surrounded by gardens and a moat. Near the walls was found the tomb of the Boleyn sisters – relatives of Elizabeth I. Klononi is recognized as a national monument of the country. The castle has been restored just enough to be safely visited by tourists. There is no work schedule, access to the territory is free.

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Castle Do

It was built near the village of Krisloch in the 16th century. It stands on a small peninsula, partly surrounded by water and a moat. The castle was one of the important locations during the War of the Three Kingdoms. The owners of these lands often changed. Until is considered the best preserved fortifications of its time in the region. Listed as a national monument. Tourists are told about the ghost of a countess who killed herself because of unrequited love.

The 10 Most Beautiful Medieval Castles in Ireland

10 most beautiful medieval castles in Ireland

On the territory of Ireland is scattered a huge number of ancient castles, in this it can be compared with only a few European countries. But the time has not spared most of them and many former majestic and beautiful medieval castles of Ireland have lost their proud look, having turned into hundreds of ruins scattered all over the green island. But many of them, even as ruins, are the pride of Ireland because of their great historical value.

1. Ashford Castle,

Ashford Castle is one of Ireland’s most elegant and beautiful castles. It appeared in 1228 on the site of an Anglo-Norman house. For about 350 years it was owned by the Burgos family, after which it was claimed by Knight John de Burgh and Sir Richard Bingham. When in 1589 the feuding parties finally came to an agreement, the castle went to Richard Bingham, who labored to strengthen its walls. The new owner of the castle and at the same time built in the XVII century hunting lodge was Dominic Brown in 1670. Later the castle has changed a lot of owners, until in 1910 practical Noel Hooggard opened a hotel in it. Over the centuries the castle was constantly expanded, and now it is a luxurious five-star hotel, part of the organization “Leading Hotels of the World”. It is considered one of the best hotels in Ireland.

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2. Malahide Castle,

The knight Richard Talbot in 1185 built Malahide Castle on lands granted to him for his loyal service by King Henry II of England during the invasion of Ireland. From 791 this castle belonged to the Talbot family, except for a brief period when Oliver Cromwell ruled Ireland and his protégé Myles Corbet lived in the castle. When the patron died, Corbet hanged himself in the castle, and legend has it that his ghost still roams its corridors. Another grim story tells of the death in 1690 of 14 members of the Tabeldot clan during the Battle of the Boyne River. Malahide Castle retains its interior and unique period furnishings. There is a model railroad museum. There’s a beautiful park near the building, and the entire estate covers over 250 acres.

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3. Dublin Castle,

Dublin Castle in our time is the main complex of government buildings in Ireland. It was built under King John the Quaker in the 13th century. According to legend, before the castle the first Viking settlement was here. The original palace was built in the Norman style, it had thick fortress walls, semicircular towers in the corners and a moat surrounding it. In the XVII century, it was damaged by fire, and during its restoration the appearance of the castle was significantly changed. Until 1952 Dublin Castle was the main British outpost on the island of Ireland, after which it was officially handed over to Ireland. Now celebrations and official receptions are held there. From the outside this landmark looks like a real fortress, but the view of the interiors eloquently indicates that there were royal apartments. Under the state needs in the castle are given 10 rooms, each of which was decorated in a unique manner, but they all have in common majesty. St. Patrick’s Hall is perhaps the most magnificent.

4. Kilkenny Castle,

Kilkenny Castle became a symbol of the conquest of the island by the Normans in the 13th century. Historians suggest that it was built in the XII century, where there was a residence of Mac Giolla. Originally it was a square fortress with towers in the corners, of which only one has not survived to this day. In the 1640s the General Assembly and then the parliament of the Irish Confederation met at Kilkenny Castle. In 1967 the castle was given to the Kilkenny family. Now the castle itself and the surrounding gardens are maintained by the Office of Public Works and remain open to the public. The National University of Ireland in Kilkenny held an awards ceremony for Kilkenny Campus alumni.

5. Kilkie Castle,

The history of Kilkee Castle is full of mysteries, which especially attracts tourists here. It was built in 1181 by Sir Walter de Riddlesford, and his descendants owned the castle for seven centuries. After that, it served as a military base. In 1634 it was rented until 1646 by the Jesuit order. In the 1960s, the estate and castle passed to the Fitzgerald family, who made it into a hotel for 10 years. When in 2009 the country was struck by the financial crisis, the owners put the castle up for sale. It was sold rather quickly – the buyer was Ernes Shelknott. Now the castle includes 100 acres of manicured gardens and woodlands, and it continues to serve as a luxury hotel.

6. Lakeslip Castle,

Lakeslip Castle is among the oldest of the permanently inhabited Irish houses. It stands on the banks of the River Liffey. Its central part was built in 1172, and the following year the Norman invasion began. Lakeslip is fortunate to be one of the oldest Irish castles preserved in good condition. The interiors of the castle are in the Norman style, with Florentine tapestries and horns of hunting trophies hanging on the walls, as King John stayed here while hunting. In 1316, the castle was besieged for a short period (4 days) by Edward the Bruce forces, which ultimately led to its fall. In 1567 the castle was bought by Judge Nicholas White, whose descendants continued to own it until 1728, when William Conolly bought it for $12,000. His descendants in turn sold the property in 1914. The castle is now open to the general public, for whom interesting tours are offered.

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7. Castle Cair,

One of Ireland’s largest castles is Cair, standing on an island in the channel of the River Shur that crosses the town of Cair in South Tipperary County. The castle’s location was strategic on the route between the towns of Limerick and Waterford. This castle was built by Prince Conor O’Brien of Thomond in 1142. King Edward III of England granted the castle to James Butler, Baron of Cair, in 1375 for his loyalty. As a result of a three-day siege in 1599 the castle was submitted to the second Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux. In 1640, when the Revolution in England raged, there were two sieges of the castle in 1647 and 1650. In the latter it was captured without a single shot by Cromwell’s troops, and it is thanks to such a peaceful assault that the castle has survived in excellent condition to this day. The Butler family tried to restore the castle in the 19th century. In 1961 it became part of the state and is now fully accessible to the public.

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8. McDermott Castle,

This famous Irish castle stands on a small island in the waters of Loch Ke, located in County Roscommon. It looks like a small fortress with a semi-circular wall and several jagged towers. Until the XVII century the surrounding land together with the lake, the waters of which are scattered over 30 small islands, belonged to the local clan MacDermott. On one of these islands McDermott built their refuge. In the past, the island was named after its owners, but it is now Castle Island. The earliest mention of it was found in the “Annals of Loch Ke,” where it is marked that the structure was burned by lightning in 1184. As the clan grew and the islet became too small for them, the Mac Dermotts moved to the lakeshore. When Cromwell’s forces invaded Ireland in the seventeenth century, these lands were alienated in favor of the English crown. Over the XVIII – early XIX centuries, the park grew here, while on the island built a palace for the recreation of the royal family. The last steward of these places in the last century gave them into the possession of Ireland.

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9. Blarney Castle,

Blarney Castle is located in the village of the same name, which is about 8 km from the northwestern town of Cork in the south of Ireland. It was the third building on this site, and before it there was an ancient wooden building, which was replaced by a stone castle in 1210. Because of incorrectly laid foundations this building fell apart, and only in 1446 Dermott McCarthy erected the walls of the present castle. The castle has a massive donjon with walls 18 feet thick and 85 feet high. It contained the living quarters of the owner’s family, his vassals and knights. The upper jagged part of the main donjon was completed later (around the beginning of the 16th century). On its lower level is a large open room and bedrooms of the count, the floor above – a room of guards, a large hall, as well as a tiny “killer’s chamber” – here were hidden guards, watching for guests entering the great hall of the first floor. A sudden downpour of arrows or steep boiling water could fall on an uninvited guest. On the third level there was a chapel and a large family room, and still higher was the dining hall. Under the castle is a network of caves and underground passages. In the castle you can see the ruins of the Gothic bell tower from the burnt chapel of the XVIII century. Blarney Castle is famous throughout the world, because it keeps the “stone of eloquence” built into the castle wall. According to legend, he who kisses it, forever receives the gift of eloquence.

10. King John’s Castle,

In the center of the old Irish city of Limerick on King’s Island stands King John’s Castle. It was built from 1200 to 1212 on the site where the earth fortifications used to be. Over the next centuries, it was rebuilt and expanded several times. In 1642, during Cromwell’s annexation of Ireland, the city and the castle were ravaged. During the recent excavations, even the skeletons of people who lived at the time of the conquest of Limerick were discovered there. Fragments of a Viking period house, barracks and fortifications, which became the foundation of the castle, were found near the castle. Near the castle lies the stone on which, according to legend, the War of the Two Kings in 1690-1691 ended with the signing of the Limerick Treaty.

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