Ireland has a vast number of castles dotting the countryside, from romantic ruined castles and castle towers, to the fine stately castles of Irish Chieftains and Irish Castle Hotels. Ireland has castles that are filled with history and character and there even some haunted castles to discover.
Built in the 13th century for King John by the Anglo Normans, Dublin Castle’s complex of regal buildings has symbolized seven centuries of British rule. It served as a backdrop in the Neil Jordan movie Michael Collins, and was at the centre of historical events leading to establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. The best thing to visit here is the Chester Beatty Library, which has some of the finest collections of Eastern art in the world. Admission is free, so a visit here is an absolute must. Dublin Castle also contains a police museum.
Dublin 2, Co.
Telephone: +353 1 645 8800
Opening hours: 10:00am-4:45pm (Mon-Sat), 12:00am-4:45pm (Sun and Public Holidays)
For nearly 800 years the Malahide Castle served both as a private home and as fortress and it is said to be the oldest Irish castle continuously inhabited by the same family named the Talbots. They lived here from 1185 until 1973. The castle is located by the seaside village of Malahide, North of Dublin.The house is furnished with period furniture and there is also an extensive collection of Irish portrait paintings, mainly from the National Gallery. The grounds are also open to the public. It’s also worth a visit the Talbot Botanic Gardens situated behind the castle. They comprise several hectares of plants and lawns, a walled garden of 1.6 hectares and seven glasshouses, including a Victorian period conservatory.
Telephone: +353 (0)1 8169538
Opening hours: 9:30am-4.30pm
Kilkenny Castle is a 12th century building with a beautiful park. It was built between 1195 and 1213 by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke. During the 20th century the castle had been fully restored, so today many of the castle’s rooms are open to the public. The most memorable is the Long Gallery, with a portrait collection of the Butler family members all over the centuries and its painted ceilings. The grounds of the castle include a rose garden, a park, a fountain and a children’s playground in the courtyard and the old castle kitchen operates as a tea room during the summer.
Telephone: +353 56 770 4100
Opening hours: 9:30am-7:00pm (June-August), 10:00am-6:30pm (September), 10:30am-5:00pm (October-March), 10:30am-5:00pm (April-May)
Bunratty Castle is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland. Built in 1425 it was restored in 1954. The castle is in excellent condition and contains the finest collection of medieval furniture, tapestries and works of art in the country. The castle is famous for the night time medieval banquets completed with court jesters, maids, food and drink of the middle ages. These banquets are held year-round subject to demand.
Telephone: 061-360 788
Opening hours: 9:00am-5:00pm (all year)
Blarney is one of Ireland’s oldest castles with the first structure dating back to the 11th century. It is believed to have been a wooden structure and around 1210 A.D. this was replaced by a stone castle, which in turn was destroyed. It was rebuilt again soon after by Cormac Laidir MacCarthy in 1446. The castle is now a partial ruin, although some rooms can be accessed and are open to the public. The castle is famous for its Blarney Stone known as the “Stone of Eloquence”. For many years people have descended on castle with the purpose of kissing the Blarney Stone to be bestowed with the talent for eloquence.
Telephone: +353 21 4385252
Monday – Saturday
9:00am-6:30pm (May to September)
9:00am-7:00pm (June to August)
9:00am- 6:00 (October to April)
Sunday 9:30am-5.30pm (May to September)
9.30am- 6:00pm (October to April)
Built in 15th century, overlooking the River Eske, Donegal Castle was extended in the 17th century. The castle’s location is both scenic and central to the many gift shops and traditional Irish pubs of Donegal town. Donegal castle is famous for its indoors activities and there are beautifully restored rooms to explore furnished with Persian rugs and French tapestries. There are also information panels with the history of the castle owners.
Telephone: +353 74 972 2405
Opening hours: 10:00am-6:00pm (Easter-Mid September, daily), 9:30am-4:30pm (Mid September-Easter, from Thurs-Mon)
Parkes Castle was originally the fortress of O’Rourke Clan, rulers of the kingdom of Breffni. It has been beautifully restored using Irish oak and traditional craftsmanship. The courtyard contains the foundations and features of an earlier defensive structure, while another remnant of a bygone age is a traditional blacksmith forge of 17th Century style. Parkes Castle is located on the shoreline of Lough Gill at Five Mile Burren only a few miles from Sligo town.
Telephone: +353 71 9164149
Opening Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm (from 30th March to 18th September)
King John’s Castle
Erected between 1200 and 1210 on an old Viking site, King John’s Castle was repaired and extended several times, particularly in the 17th century. The castle retains many of the initial features, which made its construction unique for the day. It is situated on ‘King’s Island’ in the heart of medieval Limerick City and overlooks the river Shannon offering panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside. A large renovation effort was completed in 2013 and visitors can now access the tower, which is the highest viewing point in the region, as well as accessing some interior rooms. They can access also to the interpretive centre, located within the castle, as well as receive a self-guided audio tour.
Telephone: 061 360 788
Opening hours: 9:30am-5:30pm (April-September), 9.30am-4.30pm (October-March)