Ireland is spectacular for so many reasons, from lush nature to hospitable locals and lively culture, and, of course, unparalleled heritage. Boasting so many sites of great historical significance as well as unique architectural jewels, the country provides an unforgettable experience to everyone on an Ireland trip.
Most would agree that one thing that stands out from all the rest is imposing castles and castle ruins scattered all over Ireland; therefore, we have come up with a list of top 10 best castles in Ireland everyone needs to see.
1. Dublin Castle
As the name suggests, Dublin Castle is located in the country’s bustling capital and is a must on the itinerary of every history lover. Boasting a detailed exterior, the castle is as impressive inside; however, it’s not only the views that make it worthy of your attention. The castle carries great historical significance as it was once home to the Irish representative of the British Monarch. Nowadays, it houses part of the current Irish government, maintaining its political importance intact, and attracts visitors from all over the world to get better acquainted with its role in Irish history.
2. Blarney Castle
If the name of Blarney Castle rings a bell, don’t be surprised, as it is home to the renowned Blarney Stone. It is believed that one who kisses the Blarney Stone receives the gift of incredible eloquence; however, that is not the only reason to visit the aforementioned castle. Even though partially destroyed by years of wars and natural causes, it is an impressive example of medieval Irish architecture, which is worth marveling at while on one of the Ireland tours.
3. Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle is not only a great addition to your itinerary, but actually a possible accommodation option as well! Boasting an imposing exterior, manicured surroundings, and an awe-inspiring interior, it is now a five-star hotel, allowing its visitors to travel back in time and immerse themselves fully into the atmosphere of the medieval times. It ought to be a stay to remember, as it is guaranteed to leave you breathless from the moment you arrive on the premises.
4. The Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel is an absolute must-visit while in Ireland. The extensive complex houses not only an imposing castle, but a cathedral, a chapel, and a grand tower likewise, all housing exquisite artwork and other pieces of valuable heritage. In addition to that, it is located on a hill which allows it to be seen from afar as well as to provide beautiful views over the scenic surroundings.
5. Bunratty Castle
Dating back to the 15th century, the fortified construction is another excellent example of authentic architectural heritage in Ireland, set amid scenic surroundings. It is believed that way before the castle was erected on the site, it was a Viking settlement, making it a popular attraction point for visitors that want to gain a deeper insight into the country’s history.
6. Clough Oughter Castle
Set in a breathtaking location surrounded by water, the Clough Oughter Castle is undoubtedly one of the most unique ones just because of the setting alone. However, there is much more to uncover once in the location, as the history of the castle is one full of unexpected twists and turns. Did you know that it was once an actual prison?
Oliver Dixon / Clogh Oughter Castle / CC BY-SA 2.0
7. Ross Castle
Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the Ross Castle provides enchanting views over the Lough Leane and Killarney National Park, as well as some spine-chilling stories. The stronghold, also known as Killarney Castle, was built by prince O’Donoghue Mór, whose ghost is believed to live in a lake nearby the castle to this day.
8. Birr Castle
Birr Castle provides not only an impressive view to admire but also quite exceptional surroundings housing unique points of interest to discover. These include but are not limited to the Great Telescope science center, the oldest wrought-iron bridge in the country, and a vast garden filled with peculiar plant species.
AmandaMcCrann, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
9. Trim Castle
Trim Castle is another point of interest worth adding to your itinerary while touring Ireland. Feels like you have seen it before? It is because everyone who has ever seen the renowned movie “Braveheart” has caught a glimpse of the castle itself as well. The awe-inspiring fortress dates to the 12th century and boasts several unique features, including a 20-sided tower.
Bärwinkel,Klaus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
10. Dunluce Castle
Last but not least on the list, the Dunluce Castle boasts one of the most dramatic settings possible without a shade of doubt. It is located on a cliff overlooking the ocean, which makes the already imposing site an even more spectacular view to soak up.
Dotted by majestic castles and ruins, Ireland ensures a travel experience, which is unlike anything you have ever experienced before. Start working on your own Ireland itinerary and make sure to add at least a few stops from the list of the best castles in Ireland everyone needs to see for the ultimate experience.