We spent many years exploring some of the best castles in Ireland while living in Cork.
With over 30 000 castles it might be impossible to decide which one to see first.
It is undoubtedly tough to tell where are the most castles in Ireland located.
There are many large, significant and well-known castles on the island such as Bunratty Castle in County Clare, or Blarney Castle in County Cork.
We visited some of the most magnificent castles in Ireland and decided to share with you the top 10 castles to visit in the country.
Whether you are planning to visit Dublin, Cork or Galway, there is a castle to explore nearby.
Here’s your go-to list of the 10 best castles in Ireland to visit:
1. Trim Castle Co. Meath
Trim Castle is not only the earliest stone castle built in Ireland but also one of the largest Norman Castles in Europe.
It was built in 1176 by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter and took over 30 years to complete. Now the castle is known as the oldest castle in Ireland.
With an area of 30,000 m², it is also the largest castle in Ireland.
Some people might recognise the Trim Castle from an Oscar-winning Mel Gibson’s film Braveheart.
The Trim Castle Hotel also offers luxury accommodation for those who wish to stay in the heart of ancient Ireland.
For Trim Castle tours information visit TripAdvisor.
2. Ashford Castle Co. Mayo
Ashford Castle is one of the most glamorous castles in Ireland to stay in.
This medieval and Victorian castle has been expanded over the centuries and turned into a five-star luxury hotel.
Set in a 350-acre estate, this 800-year-old construction was home to the Guinness family for nearly 70 years.
Arthur Guinness sold his share of the brewing company to his brother in the 1870s and became Lord Ardilaun of Ashford.
Ashford Castle belongs to one of the most famous castles in Ireland often visited by celebrities.
3. The Rock of Cashel Co. Tipperary
The historic site also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock it was also the Seat of the High Kings of Munster.
Legend says that the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil’s Bit, a mountain located 30 km north of Cashel.
St. Patrick banished Satan from the Devil’s Bit, resulting in the Rock’s landing in Cashel.
Inside the Rock of Cashel, you will find a 13th-century cathedral anchoring the Rock with a 15th century Hall.
Here you will also find a round tower, built in 1100 and rising 28 metres above the ground, the Rock’s oldest surviving building.
You can no longer climb the tower, but the views around the castle are spectacular.
4. Gosford Castle Co. Armagh
Gosford Castle located in Northern Ireland used to film scenes for Game of Thrones belongs now to list of Castles in Ireland for sale.
Built in the mid-1800s by the 2nd Earl of Gosford, Archibald Acheson, Gosford Castle was occupied by the Earls of Gosford until 1921.
In 2006 the castle was acquired by Gosford Castle DevelopmentLtd who put forward a £4million proposal to restore the building and to transform it into luxury apartments.
Some 17 apartments were completed and are all occupied, but the part of the castle on the market offers the potential to develop a further six apartments with an average space of 3,500sq ft each.
5. Cahir Castle Co. Tipperary
Nestled along the banks of the river Suir in County Tipperary, Cahir is one of the largest castles in Ireland.
This imposing 13th-15th-century structure was skilfully designed by Conor O’Brien to become a state-of-the-art defensive castle.
You can still see the defence structures, keep, and the tower that has remained intact since its construction in 1142.
Near the Cahir castle, you will also find the Swiss Cottage.
The cottage, built in 1810 for Richard Butler and his wife, Emily, whose titles were Lord and Lady Cahir, is regarded as one of the most excellent examples of a ‘cottage ornee’ in Europe and is now a national monument.
6. Kilkenny Castle Co. Kilkenny
This 12th-century castle sits in the middle of the city.
Strongbow originally built a wooden castle on that site overlooking the River Nore in 1172. 30 years later, his son-in-law, the Earl of Pembroke built the first stone castle.
Kilkenny became one of the very few castles that have been restored, fully furnished and offer tours to the public.
In 1391, the distinguished Butler family purchased the castle and the various Earls, Marquesses and Dukes lived in the castle for nearly 600 years.
In 1967, Arthur Butler sold the Kilkenny castle for £50 to the people of Kilkenny.
7. Lismore Castle Co. Waterford
Built in 1185 by England’s King John, the Gothic-style castle is now the Irish home of the Duke of Devonshire.
This Medieval castle located in the beautiful countryside of Waterford is one of a few castles in Ireland to stay in.
While the castle isn’t open to the public, the gardens are one of Ireland’s most beautiful secrets.
The historic gardens of Lismore Castle are essentially two distinct gardens.
Both set within the castle walls comprise of 7 acres with spectacular views of the Castle and surrounding countryside.
8. Kylemore Castle Co. Galway
Kylemore Abbey founded in 1920 was initially a Benedectine monastery and home to the Benedictine nuns since 1920.
The Castle and Victorian Walled Garden are one of the most iconic tourist attractions in the country.
This beautiful place offers many scenic photographic opportunities within woodland walks and garden tours.
With its fascinating history, beautiful architecture, craft shop and tempting homemade delights in the restaurant and tea rooms, the place is must visit in Galway.
9. Doe Castle Co. Donegal
The Doe Castle, built in 1425, remained occupied until 1909. Doe Castle became well known for its ghost story.
A song written by a Creeslough poet recounts the tragic love story of Aileen and Turlough O’Boyle.
The Doe Castle, Considered to be the safest and strongest castle of its time, Built on a peninsula and surrounded by water on three sides.
Admission to the grounds is free, but you’ll have to take a guided tour to experience the tower house.
10. Blarney Castle Co. Cork
The famous Blarney Castle sits in Blarney, near Cork. This historic castle, set in acres of parkland, is most famous for its stone.
The Blarney Castle stone, well known around the world from a legend which tells the power of conferring eloquence on all who kiss the Blarney stone.
The Blarney Stone, also known as the Stone of Eloquence, is located at the top of the castle’s tower.
It takes 127 steps to the top of the castle to kiss the Blarney stone.
What is your favourite castle in Ireland?
If you need more reasons to visit Ireland read our post here.
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