Historians and local experts count about 30 thousand castles in Ireland. Which ones to visit, and which ones are not worth spending time on? We’ve been examining them a lot and for quite a while. We introduce you to those that impressed us the most. Purposely we won’t tell much about ghosts and phantoms. Each citadel has its own inimitable story that will chill the blood, but let it be told inside.

Castles are scattered throughout the country. If you are adventurous and used to managing your journey on your own, we suggest renting a car. For example, you can use this link for this purpose. We have listed the castles in the order convenient to explore them. If you wish, you can easily expand or shorten the route at your discretion.

And if you prefer exciting stories and just relax, we advise you to book a tour of the suburban castles of Dublin with a local guide at this link.

Dublin Castle

Built in the Middle Ages for defense, today the castle is a government complex and a venue for important meetings and ceremonies. The tour will introduce you to the excavations of medieval Dublin, the apartments of the former rulers, the Garda (Irish Police) Museum, as well as the Royal Chapel with Gothic galleries and vaults.

Join an exciting tour of Dublin by bus. You will have an opportunity to get more familiar with the city, and also with Dublin Castle. You can book a tour here.

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Malahide Castle

Inside the castle you will find a rich collection of paintings and deeply antique furniture. The Gothic Great Hall is distinguished by its original design. A tragic story is also connected with him, when 11 owners of the castle had dinner in the hall together and died the next day in the battle on the Boyne River. The adjacent park has entertainment for all ages: souvenirs, a playground, cycling and more. You can buy an entrance  ticket to the castle and its gardens here.

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Trim Castle

Many people know Trim Castle from the movie Braveheart. The complex is considered the largest in Ireland and the largest of the Norman castles in Europe. Check out its three-story building, a large medieval hall, lime kilns, a defensive tower, and take a walk in the park next to Trim.

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Charleville Castle

Fans of Neo-Gothic appreciate the impressive ceilings, towers, former kitchen, stables and the Charleville Chapel. The castle is located in the middle of a historical oak forest, where  you can enjoy a pleasant walk.

Charleville Castle: choose a hotel

Birr Castle

Birr castle is a private property of Earl Brendan Parsons. From May to August you can see luxurious interiors with furniture, tapestries and works of artists. The park area of the complex with rare trees and the highest hedge in the world is open to visitors all year round. There is also the Historical Science Center of Ireland located here, the Large Telescope with a reflector diameter of 183 cm, the oldest hammered iron bridge in the country and what is considered the oldest photo lab in the world.

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Leap Castle

The place is saturated with cruelty and death, which accompanied the life of the inhabitants of the castle, the O’Carroll clan. About 100 years ago during the restoration, a large burial of bones was discovered. The castle chapel is called the Bloody Chapel because one of the O’Carrolls stabbed his brother in a fight there. The castle is private, the owners are renovating it to settle down, sometimes they allow tourists in for a visit.

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Kilkenny Castle

The complex has a rich history, majestic appearance, luxurious interior decoration, and exquisite gardens. Several centuries ago historic decisions were made here. Now there are ceremonial events held regularly, such as marriages, awards and diplomas distribution. While visiting the castle make sure to check out the exhibition from the collection of the National Art Gallery. You can find a tour from Dublin at this link.

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Blarney Castle

Tourists go up to the 10th floor to kiss the Blarney Stone. You will need some moderate flexibility and companion support for that challenge. After a kiss and a tour of the castle you should visit the flower gardens in the surrounding area. The most unusual of them contains a collection of poisonous plants. Here you will see a real mandrake, which became the prototype of the magical mandrake root in the Harry Potter books. Book a tour with a visit to Blarney Castle here.

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Lismore Castle

This castle is a private property of the Duke of Devonshire. Two gardens are open for the wide audience. The upper one is the oldest man-made garden in Ireland, striking with the beauty of rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias. And in the lower garden it is nice to walk along the lawns in the shade of the trees of the 19th century. If the owner is not there you can rent a castle to stay. Facilities and entertainment are designed for a comfortable stay for up to 24 people. Guests are served by the Duke’s butler and his team.

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Rock of Cashel

The castle is harmoniously fits into the landscape. The towers were badly damaged by wars and time, reconstruction is in progress. Tourists come to see the original architectural ensemble as well as the chapel, which has preserved a fresco of the 13th century. The legend says that Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, converted to Christianity on the hill of Cashel.

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Cahir Castle

One of the few castles in Ireland that has preserved military defenses and towers in their original form since the moment they were built in 1142. On the way to the northeast tower you will see a cannonball stuck in the wall during the nine years war between Ireland and England (early 17th century). Day trip from Dublin you can find at this link.

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Ross Castle

Many myths and legends tell about a ghost living in the castle. You can learn them from the guide during the tour. He will take you up the spiral stairs to the castle’s bedrooms and show you the breathtaking views from the windows. A boat trip along the lakes of Killarney to the Innisfallen Island will be a pleasant follow up.

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Bunratty Castle

Authentic furniture, tapestries and other 15th-century handicrafts help visitors feel like living in the Middle Ages. After seeing the interiors, you can take part in a traditional feast. Waitresses in colorful outfits serve potato soup, turkey sticks, fresh bread, mulled wine and other themed treats. Take a day trip from Dublin with a visit to the Cliffs of Moher and Banratty Castle

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Dromoland Castle

Aristocratic clan representatives who built the castle still live on its territory, but the owner is an American investor. Dromoland has become a luxury 5-star hotel with a golf course. Rooms offer garden or lake views. In November, you can get a room at a price of €270 per day, in the high season the price will be at least €650.

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Doonagore Castle

Exactly here in this castle 170 sailors who escaped the collapse of the Spanish Armada in 1588 were hanged. Now this modest castle is privately owned and closed to the public. But it doesn’t matter, Doonagore harmoniously complemented the landscape of the Atlantic coast. The place is great for walks and outdoor photo shoots. The walk can be combined with a visit to the Cliffs of Moher.

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King John’s Castle

Being one of the most impregnable in the west of the country, the castle has preserved the buildings in their original form. Check out the exhibition of weapons, the medieval garrison and the housing of the soldiers. An excellent souvenir will be a coin minted at the castle’s own mint. You can find a tour with a visit to King John Castle here.

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Dunguaire Castle

One of the most photographed sights in the country. Visitors are truly impressed by the 28-meter tower, defensive walls, cozy territory, as well as the picturesque surrounding landscape. The castle is located on the shores of Galway Bay.

Dunguaire Castle: choose a hotel

» READ MOREConnemara in Ireland: how to get there and what to see?

Ashford Castle

During the centuries, the castle construction was completed, the owners and interiors have changed. For more than 80 years, the Guinness dynasty lived here, brewers, bankers, politicians. They filled Ashford with an aristocratic spirit. The castle now houses one of Ireland's finest hotels, with gilded interiors and perfect lawns. During low season a room can be rented from €325 per night, in high season the price starts from €700.

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Donegal Castle

The medieval royal family of the O’Donnells built one of the most beautiful castles of the time. It has been destroyed many times over its history, even by the younger generation of the O’Donnells themselves in 1607 while retreating during the war. The castle was under construction. Its appearance was changing all the time, however maintaining its majesty. Fragments of the 17th century border wall have escaped destruction by this day.

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Doe Castle

Doe seems floating as it’s built on a peninsula and surrounded by water on three sides. It is very solid and has retained its authentic rustic charm well. The McFadden dynasty of Irish musicians consider Doe to be the perfect place for a romantic proposal.

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Instead of a conclusion here we would like to give you a little advice. The name of the castle often coincides with the name of the district, shop or hotel. When using the online maps try to indicate the word «Castle».

We wish you a bright trip!

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