6 Castles In Ireland Worth Visiting

6 Castles In Ireland Worth Visiting
Lorna
Lorna 
Published

Castles are predominantly familiar attractions in many European countries. Not only were they built with fascinating stories about royalties, kings and queens and their happy-ever-afters, castles in medieval times were also used as fortresses.

It is said that in Ireland alone, there are over 30,000 medieval castles. Here are 6 castles, with each having a unique characteristic that makes them worth visiting!

1. Blarney Castle

6 castles in ireland worth visiting | blarney castle
Source: Lorna Real

This castle was built in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster (one of Ireland’s 4 regions). It is best known for the “Blarney Stone”, that whoever kisses it will have the gift of eloquence. A lot has been said about the origin of the stone. It was even theorized that it was the stone that burst into water when struck by Moses. It takes some effort to reach the stone though. You need to climb a narrow and winding stairway with 127 steps to reach to the top deck of the castle’s tower. Then, lay down on your back, grab the iron bars for support, inch yourself backwards and kiss the stone. If you want to kiss the stone during your visit, plan ahead as the long queues can be daunting.

How to get there:

Cork is roughly 262 km (163 miles) from Dublin City. It is served by public buses (GoBE, and Bus Eireann) departing from Dublin City Centre with a total journey time of 3 hours. Since public buses operate at limited frequencies, consider booking a coach tour. Most tours originate from Dublin City or from Cork City itself.

2. Bunratty Castle

Medieval Banquet
Source: Lorna Real

This is a defensive fortress built by the Normans in 1250. Within the castle grounds is a living village set in the ancient times to give you a glimpse of how life was back then. Bunratty Castle is one of the only three castles in Ireland that hosts an evening medieval banquet. In colourful costumes, servers entertain you with live music, dancing, and performances. It is a fantastic experience to re-live the past and dine with the nobles. The castle serves a four-course meal consisting of parsnip soup, spare ribs, chicken, and apple tart. It also comes with bunratty mead (a honey wine), and a red or white wine.

How to get there:

Clare is 216 km (134 miles) from Dublin City. The best way to reach it is to travel to its neighbouring counties Limerick and Galway from Dublin City or Dublin Airport. This route is served by Bus Eireann and Citylink. Once in Limerick or Galway, arrange your private transport to Bunratty Castle or join a coach tour. The castle is just 17 km (11 miles) from Limerick City.

3. Kylemore Abbey

6 castles in ireland worth visiting | kylemore abbey
Source: Lorna Real

Mancunian (locals of Manchester, United Kingdom) couple Mitchell and Margaret Henry went to Ireland in the 1840s for their honeymoon and instantly fell in love with Kylemore and its surroundings. In 1867, Mitchell bought the estate and constructed Kylemore as a gift for his wife. Nowadays, it is home to the Benedictine nuns. What’s peculiar about this place is the colourful array of flowers and vegetables in their walled Victorian garden set in 6 acres (2.4 ha) of land. A natural brook separates the flower garden from the vegetable garden. Apparently, it is said that the garden follows a strict protocol in that every type of plant requires to be cultivated by Victorian gardeners.

How to get there:

The best way to get there is to join a coach tour from Dublin City or Galway City. Several tour companies (Healy Bus, Paddywagon, Galway Tours) operate this route at an hourly interval.

4. King John’s Castle

Performances at the Courtyard
Source: Lorna Real

King John’s Castle was built in 1210 by King John of England. He was the brother of Richard the Lionheart, linked with epic tales such as the Knights of the Round Table and Robin Hood. In the courtyard, you can watch performances by the staff dressed in traditional costumes re-enacting the roles. The actors give a brief history and narrates the typical activities during the time of King John. They even portray how it was on the battlefield. You can try their armour or even play at archery.

How to get there:

King John’s Castle is in the heart of Limerick City. From Dublin City, there are several buses serving the route: DublinCoach, Bus Eireann, and Eireagle. The journey takes 2.5 hours with a distance covering 191 km (118 miles).

5. Malahide Castle and Gardens

6 castles in ireland worth visiting | malahide castle and gardens
Source: Lorna Real

The Talbot family built Malahide Castle in 1175 after receiving a grant from Henry II for their services in the conquest of Ireland. The castle remained as their residence until it was bought by the Irish government. It is particularly interesting to join the 45-minute guided tour. The guide brings history alive, from the life of the Talbots, the history of the structure, to the significance of the furniture pieces and the paintings on the ceiling. It’s fascinating to know how the family lived a wealthy and comfortable life during the Georgian era. Have a look at the heavy plate holders, the antique dining tables, the strings suspended in the middle of the bed to open doors, to the eerie painting hanging on the wall.

How to get there:

The castle can be easily reached from Dublin City. Take the DART (commuter train) and alight at the Malahide station. The castle is 1.7 km (1 mile) from the station. Alternatively, book a half-day tour with Dublin tour companies that will cover the Malahide Castle and the Howth fishing village.

6. Portumna Castle

6 castles in ireland worth visiting | portumna castle
Source: Lorna Real

Portumna Castle is a home-fortress built by the Burke’s family around 1618. It is surrounded with a beautiful walled garden onone side, and a lovely park onthe other . The castle itself is very small, but the huge gate leading to its entrance makes the castle look very grand indeed. Inside, a film is shown, and exhibits are on display detailing its history. Enjoy the willow maze and learn about the ha-ha wall.

How to get there:

Portumna Castle is in Galway, approximately 71 km (44 miles) from Galway City. Limited Bus Eireann services operate the route. It is best to arrange a private transport.

Charmed Castles

A visit to a medieval castle is a great escape from the usual city itinerary. A trip to Ireland is never complete without seeing these medieval gems. The royal families enjoyed their homes and it’s now up to us to enjoy what they had built . So, live your own fairy tale, visit a castle on your next trip!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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