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Castle on the hill... anyone?

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

Ask an Irishman where to find Ashford Castle and some would say Mayo, others might say Galway and both are correct. The castle itself is located in Co. Galway while the tea rooms, lodge, and much of the extensive grounds are in Co. Mayo. Furthermore, in another peculiar twist, you cannot reach the castle—which is in Co. Galway—without traveling through Co. Mayo.

This fabulous 800-year-old castle is widely recognized as Ireland’s top castle and once home to the Guinness family. With over 350-acres of woodland on the shores of Lough Corrib, this castle has been voted ‘Best Hotel in the World.’

Blarney Castle is just a 5 minute drive from Cork City, this 900 year old castle is a world landmark with a fascinating history. Home of the famous Blarney Stone which, according to legend, has the magical power of conferring eloquence upon all those who bestow a kiss (see what I did there?). The prehistoric Fern Garden, a deadly Poison Garden, and the magical Rock Close with its ancient Yew trees and druidic stones are the most visited gardens in Ireland.

Bunratty Castle is a great place for the whole family to visit.

Built in 1425 on ancient ruins, this one-time home saw many battles in its long history. You can find out more by joining one of the excellent tours of its amazing interactive folk museum, folk park and a 19th-century village complete with actors in period dress. Children will love the Fairy Village and Pirate Adventure Playground. Just outside of the Castle is the world famous Durty Nellys pub where you can stop for a perfect pint of Guinness.

Ever wanted to visit a haunted castle? Well, now is your chance! Leap Castle is reputedly the most haunted castle in Ireland. You will understand when you discover its brutal past. But I wont ruin that for you here!

King Johns castle is suprisingly named after…. Well, King John, the younger brother of Richard the Lionheart, famous for fighting in the Crusades—only to be captured for ransom on his way home. Remember Sean Connery from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves? He built his great castle on the River Shannon. Discover the castle’s dramatic, and violent history, by taking a well-organized tour, during which you will learn the tactics used in medieval and siege warfare, and more.

Malahide castle also claims the title of ‘most haunted’ in Ireland, but when it comes to ghosts; who’s counting. It is said to be haunted by the “lady in white”. The castle hosts concerts and has a huge number of attractions on site including a fabulous restaurant, playground and wonderful botanical gardens, walled gardens, Butterfly House, and a Fairy Trail.

Built over 1,000 years ago The rock of Cashel was where St Patrick converted the King of Munster, to Christianity. In 978 Brian Boru was crowned High King and made Cashel his capital.

Among the monuments to be seen are a massive stone round tower, a high cross, a Romanesque chapel, a Gothic cathedral, an abbey, the Hall of the Vicars Choral, and a 15th- century Tower House.

Birr Castle is a Gothic-style castle that is 800 years old. With 120-acres of award-winning gardens and beautiful parklands to enjoy. The Earl of Rosse still lives here, only parts are open to the public. You will also see an enormous reflecting telescope, ‘The Leviathan’—once the biggest in the world, a radio telescope that is still in use today, and a Science Centre dedicated to photography, engineering, and astronomy.

Dunguaire Castle, Once owned by Oliver St. John Gogarty, the inspiration for Buck Mulligan in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses.

Today you may visit the castle, even book in for a medieval-style banquet—a sumptuous four-course dinner with locally-sourced fayre, held between April and September.

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