Majestic, whimsical and always enchanting, the castles of Ireland take visitors back to a bygone era of medieval times. They can be found scattered all over Ireland, some reduced to ancient ruins, but others surprisingly well preserved. There are different types of castles, many with historical significance.
Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s oldest castles located near Blarney Village in southwest Ireland. The castle was originally a timber-hunting lodge built in the 10th century. The hunting lodge was rebuilt into a stone castle in 1210. Dermot McCarthy brought it to present day construction in 1446. Blarney Castle is world-renowned and visitors can find the famous Blarney Stone nestled high up in its battlements.
The Vikings originally built Bunratty Castle, in County Claire as a trading post in 950. It was constructed into a castle in 1425, and was restored to its present condition in 1954. Bunratty Castle is now part of Bunratty Folk Park and is open to the public year round.
Cahir Castle in County Tipperary was built in the early 13th century and was surrendered to Cromwell in 1650, when official articles were signed within the castle. Cahir Castle is now fully restored to its former magnificence, and is an architectural interpretive center. Guided tours are available year round.
Built by the Normans, Carrickfergus Castle was once the center of Anglo-Norman power in Ulster and has survived intact despite 750 years of constant military presence. The core of the castle was built in 1177, and different areas were added on throughout the years. Carrickfergus Castle was seized by the French in 1760 and since then has been used as an air raid shelter, armory and prison. The castle is now open to the public.
Drimangh Castle in County Dublin is the only fully restored medieval castle in Ireland to possess a fully flooded moat. Built in the 13th century, the castle is fully restored and features hand carved oak balconies and staircases, along with a 17th century garden. Drimangh Castle is open to the public April 1 through October 31.
The Normans built Dublin Castle in County Dublin in the 1300’s. Only two of the original towers and a portion of medieval wall remain of the original structure. The castle was rebuilt in the 1850’s and the State Apartment was recently restored and now serves as a venue for Presidential Inaugurations, and State Functions. The Castle’s State Apartments and other venues are open to the public.
Knappogue Castle in County Clare was built in 1467 by the son of Sioda, who built Bunratty Castle, and the Cromwellian forces occupied it in 1641. The castle was sold to the Scotts in 1800. Open to the public from May to October, Knappogue Castle hosts a medieval banquet twice a night subject to demand.
Leap Castle in County Tipperary is one of the most haunted castles in Ireland, and was built in the 14th or 15th century. Major renovations took place in the 17th century and in the 20th century it became the meeting place of such literary giants as W.B.Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and Edward Martin. Restorations were complete in 1954, and Leap Castle is open to the public from May through October, complete with medieval banquets.
Ormonde Castle, County Tipperary was acquired in 1315, and was added to in the 1500’s. This castle has little to offer in the way of defense, just a few firing holes around the front entrance. In 1947, it was taken over by the State, and restored to its present condition. Ormonde Castle is open to the public mid-June through September with daily guided tours.
Trim Castle is in County Meath, located 28 miles northwest of Dublin, and visitors may recognize it as the castle that appeared in the movie Braveheart. Trim Castle is one of the most important military constructions and largest Norman construction in Ireland. This castle has three of its four massive towers remaining and the keep is currently under Natural Monument conservation, but tourists can explore the bailey.
Among the many beautiful castles located in Ireland, these are some of the more notable castles as far as age, condition, historical content and public availability. These incredible castles are medieval masterpieces and are an enriching educational stroll back in history.