Castles in Ireland & Northern Ireland
I love castles. If you follow me on instagram or have read some of my other travel posts, I have definitely mentioned my love of castles before. I just love wandering through them, imagining what it looked like, what life was like and the people that lived there before. I also find them so impressive. Without all the machines of today, people were able to make these huge structures. So if you are like me and share a love of castles, read on to explore Castles in Ireland.
Castles in Ireland We Saw
Dunluce – Northern Ireland
Situated on the dramatic and rugged coastline, this ruin literally hugs the cliff edge. It is a must visit while in Northern Ireland. Not far from the Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills town – this is an easy stop on your tours. A little museum is set up to explain the history of the site, along with artifacts found during excavations.
Blarney Castle – Near Cork
Kissing the Blarney Stone is the obvious reason to visit this castle, which is a bit of a scary experience in all honesty, you lay on your back, inch toward the edge and lower your head and shoulders over and out – reaching for the stone. Of course coming away with the gift of eloquence is well worth it… All that being said, the castle itself is lovely, along with the grounds and gardens.
Ballycarbery – Ring of Kerry
A great find outside the town of Cahersiveen, sitting in the middle of a pasture. Watch out for cow paddies! The front on the castle appears somewhat intact, however, walking around the back makes it look like it has been chopped in half. It is quite the picturesque site all covered in ivy. You are able to climb onto the upper level of the castle – but be careful. The stability of it is unknown and probably precarious. Definitely one of my favourite stops.
Ross Castle – Killarney
More of a tower and keep than a full castle, Ross Castle is located within Killarney National Park. Situated right on the lake, it has a beautiful view out over the water and surrounding park. It is free to wander within the keep walls and around the tower. To enter the tower itself, there is an admission fee and you must go around with the tour guide and group.
Clifden Castle – Near Clifden
This castle was one of my favourites of the whole trip. We had just driven through Connemara National Park. The original plan was to walk the Clifden Sky Loop, but the skies were becoming dark and grey and we were finding ourselves later in the day than planned, we headed straight for the castle. The walk to the castle starts at a gateway, along a gravel path, passing curious grazing sheep, slightly downhill. The views of the bay were beautiful in poor weather, I couldn’t imagine the views in the sunshine. It took a while before we could actually see the castle – but even from afar it looked awesome.
You cannot enter the castle from the front – but if you walk around back you can access most of the room. I have written this many times before, in blog posts, on twitter and instagram, but I just love the contrast of plant growth on old castles – nature reclaiming what man made and no longer uses. There is always a hauntingly beautiful or mystical air. Perhaps it was just because we were in Ireland.
Definitely recommend a visit. I wish we had had more time to spend in the Connemara area, as the drive alone was something else.
Parkes Castle – Near Sligo
We never went into this castle – we happened to take an early morning drive around lake and hopped out to stretch our legs. The castle wasn’t open yet, but it was completely intact and had a lovely lake side vista.
Rock of Cashel – County Tipperary
A historically significant castle for Ireland, and a popular tourist destination. Rock of Cashel is where the warrior Brian Boru was crowned High King of Ireland in 1002. Currently the castle is under renovation. There was scaffolding everywhere during our visit, so we decided just to view from the outside – it is also one of the more expensive castles to visit.
Some of the Castles in Ireland We Wish We Saw
Leap Castle – County Offaly
Birr Castle – County Offaly
Kilkenny Castle – County Kilkenny
Rock of Dunamase – County Laois
Doe Castle – County Donegal
Donegal Castle (aka O’Donnell’s Castle) – County Donegal
Of course there are so many more, but these are just a few!
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For more on Ireland, check out these posts: