Castles are among the most popular attractions in Ireland, with many having played important roles in the nation’s history. Some have been well-preserved and restored; others derive charm from the fact that they’re weathered and ageing. Most of the fortresses in Ireland were built to house powerful families rather than royalty, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive.
These are a few of the most famous castles in Ireland:
Perched on the Nore River in County Kilkenny, this castle was constantly being rebuilt and renovated up until around the 18th century. Some of the older construction dates to the 1200s, and the bell towers are even older than that. Be sure to stop by the art galleries housed in the stables area, as they’re surprisingly good.
This tower house has been around for more than six centuries, but the tradition of kissing its famous stone is considerably younger. It is, however, a rite of passage for all those who visit the castle. Legend has it that those who kiss the stone receive the ‘gift of gab’.
Another tower house, Doe Castle is one of the best fortresses of its kind in the north-west. It was actually a Scottish stronghold until the English took it over in the 17th century. You can’t venture inside, but the grounds are open to visitors.
This large and well-preserved fortress is a sight to behold. The massive towers and turrets will give you an idea of its military importance, but it’s worth joining a guided tour for a more thorough understanding of the battles that were staged here.
Found in County Clare, Bunratty Castle is within easy driving distance for those with hire cars in Limerick. The castle’s in an excellent state of repair and has been decked out period furnishings. These factors combined with its ease of access make it one of Ireland’s most frequently visited fortresses.
A modest structure by castle standards, Rathfarnham is more of an impressive fortified mansion. It dates to the 16th century, when future-Archbishop of Dublin commissioned it. Restoration is ongoing, and different sectors are in various stages of repair.
King John’s Castle
Also known as Trim Castle, this fortress was built on top of a Viking Settlement in the 11th century. Its name is owed to a brief layover that King John made here in 1210. This castle’s close to Limerick and could potentially be seen as part of the same driving tour with Bunratty.