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6 Best Castles in Ireland

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Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, Ireland

Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, Ireland

Ireland is a land of green countryside, stone bridges, and fairytale architecture set in breathtaking gardens, and planning ahead will help you discover some of the best castles to visit.

Medieval estates, tranquil settings, and rich history beg to be discovered. Whether eager to traverse dramatic ramparts or interested in learning the regal art of falconry, visiting Ireland’s many fascinating castles, with their dramatic architecture and surrounding scenery, is a must.

From east to west, north to south, and scattered in between, there are many to choose from, and we have picked a few of the most popular to share with you.

  1. 1. Donegal Castle
  2. 2. Ross Castle
  3. 3. Blarney Castle
  4. 4. Kylemore Abbey
  5. 5. Rock of Cashel
  6. 6. Kilkenny Castle
  7. Explore the Best Castles in Ireland

1. Donegal Castle

Donegal Castle, Ireland

Donegal Castle, Ireland

Beautiful Donegal Castle is built on a steep hillside in the center of the town of the same name, a previously medieval building that has been transformed into a luxury residence.

Once left to ruins, the small castle was restored over time to its former glory. It is furnished with timeless pieces and features among its treasures tapestries on its walls and Persian rugs in its hallways, all complementing its historic architecture.

Wander the lush landscape and enjoy views over the River Eskie and Donegal Mountains.

2. Ross Castle

Ross Castle, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Ross Castle, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Stunning views across the tranquil waters of Lough Sheelin, picturesque landscapes, and a location in Killarney National Park make Ross Castle a must-visit fortress.

It is said the grand hallways of Ross Castle are haunted and many ghost stories are shared with those who visit this intriguing building. According to legend, if anyone sees the ghost of O’Donoghue Mór, its builder, come out of the lake on his white horse, they will experience good luck.

The castle boasts towering turrets, intriguing interiors, and some of the most beautiful gardens in Kerry County, one of the best places to visit in Ireland.

3. Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle, Cork, Ireland

Blarney Castle, Cork, Ireland

The most famous site at the Blarney Castle is no doubt the popular Blarney Stone, visited by thousands of tourists each year.

Legend says whoever kisses the Stone of Eloquence will never be lost for words. From the top of Blarney Castle, one can see miles of breathtaking scenery, complemented by magnificent gardens and waterways within the castle walls.

On the outside, its walls stand tall, while inside are many chambers and underground passageways said to have been a prison.

4. Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey, Galway County, Ireland

Kylemore Abbey, Galway County, Ireland

Kylemore Abbey, in the Connemara countryside, is one of Ireland’s most popular castles.

It is located at the edge of a tranquil lake, surrounded by a walled garden and green hillsides perfect for a woodland wander in a peaceful part of beautiful Ireland.

Today, Kylemore Abbey functions as a Benedictine monastery, open to visitors from around the world who come to marvel at its elegance, serene setting, and intriguing history, both tragic and joyous.

5. Rock of Cashel

Hoare Abbey, Rock of Cashel, Ireland

Hoare Abbey, Rock of Cashel, Ireland

The Rock of Cashel is a collection of medieval buildings that includes chapels, abbeys, and impressive towers.

Cormac’s Chapel is known as the only Romanesque fresco still in existence in Ireland, a sarcophagus interlaced with serpents and beasts placed in a corner of the chapel. Medieval and Celtic history is present throughout, visible in the art and architecture of the buildings.

The cluster is set upon a rocky outcrop of limestone and commands amazing views over an extensive walled graveyard and beyond to the hills and village below.

6. Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny, Ireland

Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny, Ireland

Set on acres and acres of well-kept landscape, with woodlands, a man-made lake, and a beautiful rose garden, Kilkenny is one of the only castles in Ireland that boasts the longest period of continuous occupation.

Restored in the Victorian style, its central building offers visitors a chance to see elegantly decorated bedrooms and the charming library, before moving on to the east wing to view an impressive art collection.

Marvel at the grand staircase and tapestry tower before taking one last walk around the glorious grounds.

Explore the Best Castles in Ireland

Malahide Castle, Dublin, Ireland

Malahide Castle, Dublin, Ireland

Ireland is full of medieval castles and elegant manors, and no matter where your journey there takes you, you are bound to find one or more to explore and enjoy. Spend a day reliving a rich past, feeling like royalty as you marvel at the dramatic architecture and stroll around perfectly manicured grounds.

Find ideas for your trip with our Ireland tours and vacations, or explore inspiration and information in our Ireland travel guide.

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