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Travel And Visit Ten Popular Irish Castles

Updated on June 11, 2009

A Look At Ten Popular Irish Castles

Ireland is a popular vacation destination for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons people travel there is to get a real taste of this warm and welcoming country and everything it has to offer, especially those things that they don't see back home. One of the most intriguing and interesting things for many people to see when visiting Ireland for the first time are the many castles, big and small, that dot the countryside. Here is a look at ten of the more popular Irish castles that visitors to Ireland enjoy visiting on a yearly basis.

Dromoland Castle

Located near Newmarket-on-Fergus in County Clare, Dromoland Castle is an excellent place to travel to for getting a taste of what an Irish castle would've appeared like during its prime. The castle has been fully restored, and somewhat renovated, and currently serves as a luxury hotel catering to travelers wishing to experience a unique stay in Ireland. The hotel also has its own golf course.

Photo by Dezso Papp.

Located in western County Cook, in between Ballineen and Dunmanway, Ballinacarriga Castle is a rather large and imposing structure, especially when compared to the buildings and countryside that surround it. The castle is four stories in height and has a six-level tower as part of the main structure. The community has painstakingly labored to improve the castle so that it has become very tourist friendly.

Photo by spi516.

Located in Blarney, and near Cork, the Blarney Castle dates back to the early 1200s, though there is evidence that had been rebuilt in the mid-1400s. Today the castle sits in partial ruin with some of its features inaccessible. The famous Blarney Stone can be found at the top of the castle and visitors are encouraged to hang upside down to kiss the stone. The grounds surrounding Blarney Castle have been extensively and beautifully landscaped to the point that they are now a welcomed part of the attraction as well.

Photo by Cullion.

Located in the community of Donegal, in county Donegal, the Donegal Castle is a must-see historic site for anyone who travels near it. The castle has been completely restored in recent years by the local Office of Public Works and today is popular as a tourist attraction as well as a community gathering for various meetings and celebrations. The castle is made up of locally sourced limestone and dates back to the 15th century, though there is some evidence showing that an earlier version may have stood on the site that predates that.

Photo by informatique.

Dating back to the 12th century, and located near the village of Malahide just north of Dublin, Malahide Castle is a fantastic stop for anyone interested in seeing an Irish castle as it may have appeared during its glory days. The castle has a unique history, having been inhabited by the Talbot family for almost 800 years, as most recent as 1976, except for a short eleven year period following the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. In addition to the fully restored castle, there are a number of other attractions located either on the grounds or nearby including the Talbot Botanic Gardens, the Fry Model Railway, and Tara's Place.

Luttrellstown Castle

Another of the fabulously restored castles located near Dublin is the Luttrellstown Castle. The castle is immaculate these days and much of it has been converted into a five star resort, complete with country club and golf course. Over the years, many notable people have visited and even spent significant time at Luttrellstown Castle, including Queen Victoria on two occasions. There are also many rooms and areas of Luttrellstown Castle that can be reserved for large celebrations like weddings and parties.

Photo by Jim Linwood.

Ross Castle actually sits within the borders of Killarney National park on the shores of Lough Leane in County Kerry. The castle was originally constructed in the 1400s and over the years has served as a personal and family residence, a military barracks, and eventually as a historic site. Ross Castle sits on the famous Ring of Kerry scenic drive as well as the popular hiking path, the Kerry Way. During the summer months, boating trips on the lake are available for travelers to take part in, these trips leave from Ross Castle and are a great way for visitors to explore the castle's natural surroundings.

Photo by Wally Hartshorn.

Located in the community of Kilkenny, Kilkenny Castle is one of the more fabulous castles in the area and it has been remarkably restored to what it must have looked like hundreds of years ago. The grounds surrounding the castle are both expansive and landscaped extremely beautifully. The castle regularly displays a portion of Ireland's National Art Gallery within its walls, and the building is open for public viewing. The sights seen at the massive Kilkenny Castle have made it one of the most visited attractions in all of Ireland.

Photo by sitomon.

Located on King's Island in the community of Limerick, King John's Castle sits on the shores of the River Shannon, welcoming visitors all year long. There is a very informative visitor center located on the grounds and the majority of the fallen castle's rooms, walls, and fortifications are open to the public. King John's Castle has a unique history in that the area was first developed by Viking invaders who used it as a base of operations for further invasions of the country. During certain parts of its history, the entire city was contained on King's Island in the form of a walled city for protection from visiting armies. The famous St. Mary's Cathedral of Limerick is located nearby and also well worth the visit.

Photo by patty_deburca.

The Rock of Cashel, also known as Cashel of the Kings, is located in County Tipperary. Before the Norman invasion, the Rock of Cashel served as the historical seat of the kings of Munster, and remains an important site for both locals and historians. Most of the structures currently in existence there date back to the 12th century and have remained in remarkable condition. Some of the more interesting parts of the castle include the 90 foot tall round tower, Cormac's Chapel, the Hall of Vicars Choral, and the Cathedral. These buildings that sit atop the massive rock base are popular with tourists and present a somewhat more unique look at an Irish castle.

Travel to Ireland, visit these castles.

Ireland is home to a great number of castles and tower homes, as well as other historic sites too, and this list should not be viewed as complete. There are many castles in Ireland that sit in and around the communities listed here and almost all are worth a visit. Castles can be awe-inspiring to view and if the traveler lets their guard down they can be transported to another time when the castle was in its prime. The state of the castle has little regard to how interesting it is. Restored castles are fascinating to see as they allow a look at what they may have looked like when they were in well use as either homes or military installations. Castles that have fallen into ruins are equally intriguing as they offer a look at what has become of these once solid and imposing structures. Many great experiences can be had in Ireland while touring some of the historic castles there.

Ready to travel to Ireland? Use resources online to book your travel quickly and cheaply. Two popular resources for online travel are Orbitz and Cheaptickets. Always look to see if there are promotion codes available for these two online booking sites, because they frequently offer promo codes to make your next Ireland vacation cheaper. Search for an orbitz promotional code or a cheaptickets promotion code prior to purchase.

Ireland Travel and Castle Items

Please comment on your thoughts about Irish castles.

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    • EelKat13 profile image


      9 years ago

      Dropping a note to let you know this lens was blessed.


    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Very nice lens, fabulous choice of photos

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      Jimmie Quick 

      9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Those blue skies and green, green grass are mesmerizing! Thanks for the beautiful images!

      You're officially blessed!


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