No trip to Ireland is complete without a visit to one of our many castles. Though many are now just ruins, there are plenty that have been faithfully restored to give you a real sense that you are stepping back in time into the world of you Medieval Irish ancestors
We've listed some of our favourite Irish castles and broken them down into categories based on the activities that are available there. To learn more, just click on the images to access our Building Chronicles.
This 30 minute recording consists of a virtual tour of our island's castles led by our resident Archaeologist. We used the Building Chronicles to take a trip through time, all the way back to Medieval Ireland.
The XO Chronicles is a completely free feature on the IrelandXO.com website. It works by enabling all people of Irish ancestry, both in Ireland and around the world, to add to the heritage of every Irish locality by recording what they know about our ancestors, the places they lived in and the events that shaped their lives.
During this webinar we will also show you how to:
create Ancestor, Building, and Timeline Chronicles
connect an Ancestor to a Building
edit the details
Guided Tours Available
Each of these Castles is open to the public for fully guided tours. The incredibly informative tour guides will bring these stone walls to life as they recount the tales, trials, and tribulations of Ireland's great Castles.
Perhaps best known for its repeated appearances in the 1995 movie Braveheart, this Castle is a magnificent example of Anglo-Norman architecture.
Portumna Castle is located in a beautiful setting next to Lough Derg and the Portumna Forest Park. It dates back to the 17th century as the home of the Earl of Clanrickarde. When visiting this Castle and gardens, be sure to also take the tour at the nearby Irish Workhouse Centre for a unique opportunity to see how both sides lived in the 1800's Ireland.
This 16th century Castle was built by Sir Henry Wallop in 1588. It underwent extensive restorations in the 20th century and is now one of the most impressive Castles in the country.
This Castle, built in 1281, has been used for a variety of different purposes over the centuries. It has been a school, a library, and even a tuberculosis sanatorium.
Thoor Ballylee's claim to fame is that it was once home to Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner W.B. Yeats. It was while living here that he wrote some of his most loved poetry. The Tower was badly damaged by flooding but thanks to the tireless efforts of a dedicated community of locals the Tower was able to reopen for tourism.
Spend the Night in Luxury
If simply visiting these Castles isn't enough, and you want a more in-depth experience, then why not splash out and spend a few nights at one of the many grand Irish Castles which are now in use as luxury hotels.
Ashford Castle is situated in the picturesque village of Cong, famous for the classic movie, The Quiet Man. This spectacular building in sprawling grounds offers a wide variety of activites from falconry to archery, as well as a luxury room for the night.
This splendid Castle was built in 1835 and is located in Newmarket-on-Fergus. A number of celebrities and political figures have chosen to spend a night in Dromoland, such as Jack Nicholson, John Lennon, and even Nelson Mandela.
This Castle was built in the 1830's and has gained some noteriety in recent years as a location for paranormal activity. It even appeared in an episode of Most Haunted where paranomal investigators tried to make contact with the Castle's resident spirits.
Dine like the Lords and Ladies
If the experience you're looking for is more along the lines of food and entertainment then a Medieval Banquet is the Irish Castle experience for you. Fill your belly while you learn about the history of the buildings and listen to the songs and poems of the entertainers at Dunguaire and Bunratty
Situated on the dramatic coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way, Dunguaire boasts fabulous views of the sea and Burren, as well as a night of great food and entertainment.
If you'd rather spend a full day at the Castle, then head to Bunratty where a ticket to the banquet also includes access to the Folk Park. Here you can get a glimpse of life in Ireland throughout the ages. See how to make the famous Irish soda bread even sit in on a class in the schoolhouse. There's also plenty of animals in the park from donkeys and geese to Irish wolfhounds.
Be the Master of your own Keep
Last, but certainly not least, there are plenty of options to rent an entire Castle for you and your friends or family. Be Lord and Lady of the Keep on your trip to Ireland and make some memories to last a lifetime.
Ballybur Castle is located just outside Kilkenny city and an ideal place to stay if you're planning on exploring Ireland's Ancient East.
Grantstown Castle is located in County Tipperary amidst the beautiful lush countryside of the Golden Vale. This unique holiday destination dates all the way back to the 1500's. Now there's a story to tell when you get home!
With such a variety of Castles located all over the country, there really is something for every budget, itinerary, and taste. Remember these are just a small selection of the many Irish Castles open for business in Ireland, but there's also plenty dotted around the countryside that are in a various states of disrepair. Be sure to keep you eyes peeled and your cameras at the ready when touring around the Irish countryside, as you're never too far away from the next Irish Castle.
You can discover, and create, more Castles on our Buildings Chronicles HERE
Remember to use the County and Parish dropdown filter to tailor the results to a particular area that interests you!
We hope you have found the information we have shared helpful. While you are here, we have a small favour to ask. Ireland Reaching Out is a non-profit organisation that relies on public funding and donations to ensure a completely free family history advisory service to anyone of Irish heritage who needs help connecting with their Irish place of origin. If you would like to support our mission, please click on the donate button and make a contribution. Any amount, big or small, is appreciated and makes a difference.