Best Castles in Ireland
Imagine Ireland had over 1,200 castles just a few centuries ago. It was at a time when wealthy families had to defend themselves but also liked to show off their wealth and power. Nowadays some Irish castles are abandoned, others are incredibly well preserved. Some have been inhabited by the same family for generations and some haunted Irish castles still appear to be inhabited by the previous owners.
Put on your armour, saddle your horse, or simply book your flights and accommodation at the best price as well as your tours and activities in Ireland and conquer the most beautiful castles in Ireland.
Portrush, County Antrim - Northern Ireland
This early 16th century castle is one of Northern Ireland's iconic ruined castles. Built on a cliff, facing the sea, this castle has known dramatic moments. One was that terrible stormy night in 1639 when the castle's kitchen collapsed into the sea. During your stay, be sure to visit “Portrush Whiterocks beach”. Located a few minutes from the castle it is ranked among the best beaches in Ireland.
Opening hours: Every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
How to get there: Book your flights to Belfast and drive to Portrush (50 min)
Where to stay: “Portrush Atlantic Hotel” situated just a 5-minute walk from the seafront.
Glenveagh - County Donegal
This 19th century castle is one of Ireland's newest castles. Located in the heart of Glenveagh National Park, this castle has long been the property of a wealthy American who loves Ireland and castles. As he did not manage to find his favourite castle for sale, he had his own built in 1823.
His ambition was clear: he wanted his castle to be even more beautiful than the royal castle of Balmoral. Make your own opinion by visiting it and discover the incredible history of this castle, classified as one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland.
Opening hours: The castle is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
How to get there: Book your flights to Derry (1 hour by car) or Belfast (2 hours).
Where to stay: Book at the “McGettingans Hotel" (formerly Gallaghers hotel), located 12km from the castle.
Doolin - County Galway
This small castle is actually a defense tower. Often surrounded by goats, the castle ended up taking the name of "Doonagore" which means the Fort of the goats. This castle and its history are witnesses to the harshness of the battles in the Middle Ages.
Nearly 170 Spanish soldiers who turned back after a failed invasion attempt wrecked in Doolin and were hanged from the castle tower.
Opening hours: The castle is a private second home and is not open to the public.
How to get there: Book your flights to Galway and drive 1 hour to Doolin.
Where to stay: “West Haven House” situated in Doolin, 3km from Doonagore castle.
Newmarket-on-Fergus - County Clare
Located in the centre of Bunratty village, this 15th century castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland. A little different from other Irish castles in its Norman architecture, Bunratty Castle is located just minutes from another of Ireland's most beautiful castles, Dromoland Castle. The two castles are also managed by a private company, Shannon Development.
Inside you will be able to discover period furniture, magnificent tapestries and objects from the Middle Ages. A peasant village has been reconstituted around the castle with an old pub, an old school, some shops and a church.
Opening hours: The castle is open everyday from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
How to get there: The Castle is located 10 minutes drive from Shannon Airport and 50 minutes from Galway Airport.
Where to stay: “Bunratty Castle Hotel” this 4 star hotel offers a restaurant, a heated pool and a Spa.
Kinvara - County Galway
This early 16th century castle (1520 to be precise) was built by the O'Hynes clan. Renovated several times, always in the respect of what had been done, it lodged illustrious characters of which the very famous writer “Oliver St. John Gogarty”. It is a perfect place to immerse yourself in the life of the Irish manor of the 16th century since everything is decorated as in the time.
It is possible to eat on site a real medieval feast (from April to October). During your stay in Kinvara do not miss to visit Burren, a sustainable tourism destination awarded the "EDEN" label by the European Commission.
Opening hours: Open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
How to get there: Book your flights to Galway and drive to Kinvara (25 min).
Where to stay: "Kinvara Guesthouse" is a luxurious guesthouse located in the fishing village of Kinvara.
Dromoland - County Clare
Located just 50 minutes from Doonagore Castle, Dromoland Castle is one of Ireland's most beautiful castles.
In the 16th century a simple tower was erected on this site. The building has been extended over the centuries and is nowadays a magnificent hotel with golf course and a Michelin starred restaurant.
Dromoland Castle has also been awarded several times as one of the best Resorts in Europe and best responsible tourism destination. The best way to see the area is to book your room at the best price at Dromoland Castle.
Opening hours: Today the castle is a Resort. You can rent a room there or reserve a table in its gourmet restaurant.
How to get there: Book your flights to Shannon Airport (8 mins drive) or Galway (45 mins).
Rock of Cashel
Cashel - County Tipperary
If you are passionate about history and castles, be sure to visit Rock of Cashel. It is one of Ireland's most iconic sites. Rock of Cashel is a fabulous place for lovers of Celtic art and medieval architecture. It is also an essential place to understand the history of Ireland. It is precisely here that Saint Patrick (the most popular Saint of Ireland), explained, during his sermon, the trinity to the Irish by taking as an example a three-leaf clover (a leaf for the father, a leaf for the son, a leaf for the Holy Spirit). It is a very important place in the history of this country.
You will then understand why Saint Patrick is such a popular saint in Ireland and why the three leaf clover has become one of the emblems of this country.
Opening hours: The castle is open to the public every day of the week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How to get there: Book your flights to Cork (1 hour by car) or Dublin (2 hours).
Where to stay: "Rockville House B&B" situated in the heart of historic Cashel.
Malahide - County Dublin
Located in the village of Malahide, 10 kilometres from central Dublin, Malahide Castle is one of Ireland's most incredible castles.
This castle, parts of which date from the 12th century, is renowned for the beauty of its gardens but also for its many ghosts that still haunt the place. Do not miss to visit the tropical greenhouses, you will be amazed by the beauty of the butterflies.
Opening hours: The castle is open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m
How to get there: Book your flights to Malahide Castle is located 10 minutes from the airport.
Where to stay: Stay near Malahide Castle by booking your room at the best price at "Grand Hotel" boasting a swimming pool and a Spa.
Lismore - County Waterford
This incredible Gothic-style castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland. If its construction dates from the 12th century, it is in the 19th century that the Duke of Devonshire renovated it in a Gothic style.
The castle has always been occupied by the same family since that time. The west wing of the castle has been transformed into an art gallery and is open to the public as are the castle gardens from mid-March to mid-October. The entire castle is visible to the public only by reservation (minimum for groups of 25 people), the Duke and his children still live there.
Opening hours: the west wing of the castle (art gallery) as well as the gardens are open to the public from mid-March to mid-October from Monday to Sunday from 10.30 am - 5.30 pm (last entry 4.30 pm ).
How to get there: Lismore castle is located an 1 hour drive from Waterford Airport and Cork Airport.
Where to stay: “Salterbridge Gatelodge” located 4km from the castle.
Killarney National Park - County Kerry
Like many Irish castles, Ross Castle was built at the end of the 15th century. This magnificent medieval castle has been perfectly restored and is perfect for a family outing.
Do not hesitate to take the guided tour of the castle, it is a little more expensive but essential to learn about the history of this castle. It is possible to take a boat trip on the lake to enjoy beautiful views of the castle.
Opening hours: Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
How to get there: Book your flights to Kerry and drive to Killarney (1H).
Where to stay: Stay near Ross Castle and enjoy a 5 star stay by booking at the best price at "Muckross Park Hotel & Spa".
Kilcoe - County Cork
This Irish castle in County Cork has known illustrious owners. The latest owners may not be unknown to you, they are actor Jeremy Irons and his wife Sinéad Cusack.
Home of the MacCarthy, this defensive tower is now the sanctuary of these two famous actors. The castle is not open to visitors but you can still admire it as you walk along the bay. During your stay in Kilcoe do not miss to discover "Barleycove beach" located in Schull, only 20 minutes from Kilcoe Castle, it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland.
Opening hours: the castle is the private property of actor Jérémy Irons. If you know him, you can certainly drop by for tea, otherwise the doors will remain closed.
How to get there: Book your flights to Cork and drive to Kilcoe (1.5 hours by car).
Where to stay: “Rathmore House Bed & Breakfast” overlooking Baltimore harbour and the islands.
Black Rock Castle
Cork - County Cork
It was in the 16th century that this castle was built by order of Queen Elizabeth I to protect Cork and its harbour, at the request of the locals who were beset by pirates. Destroyed by fire in the 19th century it was rebuilt by the city of Cork and then served as a private residence for a wealthy landowner before once again becoming the property of the city of Cork in the early 2000s. Now it is home to an astronomical observatory.
Opening hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
How to get there: Book your flights to Cork, Blackrock Castle is located 20 minutes from the airport.
Where to stay: For a 5-star stay book your room at the best price at "Hayfield Manor", a luxury hotel with a beauty spa and an elegant restaurant.
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