With dozens of castles set in spectacular locations around the country, there’s no excuse for not paying a visit to at least one of Ireland’s historic landmarks. Whether you fancy staying in a luxury castle hotel or taking part in an atmospheric medieval banquet, make sure you explore at least one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland.
1. Ashford Castle, County Galway
Dating back almost 800 years and once owned by some of Ireland’s most beloved icons -the Guinness family – Ashford Castle is deserving of its popularity among tourists. The impressively preserved medieval grounds and opulent gold interiors now provide the perfect backdrop for a luxury 5-star hotel, offering visitors the chance to bed down in Western Ireland’s most famous castle.
2. Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny
A wander around the National Heritage site of Kilkenny Castle brings Ireland’s dramatic history back to life, with parts of the Anglo-Norman castle dating back to the 13th century. One of the stateliest castles in the country, the 4-towered fortress is set amidst a series of regal landscaped gardens, overlooking the River Nore in Kilkenny.
3. Cahir Castle, County Tipperary
One of the largest Irish castles still standing, the epic fortress of Cahir Castle has been painstakingly preserved and still features its original 12th-century keep, tower and defense structures. Set on an island in the River Suir, the castle is a fascinating labyrinth of spiraling stairwells, small chambers, moats and dungeons, so make sure you hire a guide.
4. Blarney Castle, County Cork
One of Ireland’s most visited castles, the 15th century Blarney Castle draws thousands of tourists each year to wander the beautiful floral gardens, venture into the eerie dungeons and climb the 10 flights of stairs into the castle tower, where the expansive views take a backseat to the unanimous highlight – kissing the famous Blarney Stone. Said to bring you the ‘gift of the gab’, you’ll need to hang backwards from the upper wall in order to reach the sacred stone.
5. Bunratty Castle, County Clare
Another hugely popular day trip, Bunratty castle and the surrounding medieval village have been restored to their former glory, complete with medieval style furnishings and beautiful views over the nearby Folk Park. For the full experience, join one of the candlelit medieval banquets, held in the grand banquet hall and served up by traditionally dressed ‘locals’.