The Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary. This castle has an unusual story behind it; according to local mythology, St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave in the Devil’s bit mountain in North Tipperary, and in his anger, Satan took a bite out of the mountain, spitting out the rock in the place where the castle now sits, in South Tipperary.
Adare Manor in Co. Limerick is now a popular tourist destination, and while it’s not classed as a castle, it’s one of the most famous historical homes in Ireland, and it’s certainly not short of a few bedrooms fit for a king. Adare Manor was built in the early 18th Century as Quin Manor, but was later rebuilt by the 2nd Earl of Dunraven and his wife. The house now operates as the Adare Manor Hotel and is famous for the adjoining golf course.
Bunratty Castle, Co. Clare. In Irish, Caisleán Bhun Raithe, it means “Castle at the Mouth of the Ratty”. Bunratty Castle is located in the center of Bunratty Village between Ennis and Limerick near Shannon airport. Alongside the edifice runs the Shannon estuary. The first dwellings on the site date back to the Vikings in 970 as part of a trading camp. The castle was finished by the McNamara family in 1425. It wound up in the hands of the O’Briens 50 years later. The castle is now famous for its medieval banquets, at which the “Bunratty Castle Entertainers” perform.
As the summer nears, we decided to take a look at some of the enchanting castles which are well worth a visit on your summer vacation in Ireland. Some of these are off the beaten track, or not as well known as your typical tourist hotspots, but each has its own amazing history.
Dunguaire Castle at Kinvara in Co. Galway, was built in 1520 by the O'Hynes clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay. This restored 16th century tower house sits on a rocky outcrop on the shores of Galway Bay, 300 yards outside the village of Kinvara. It’s worth a visit for the amazing views when overlooking the bay.
Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, was originally built as Kylemore Castle in the late 19th Century by Mitchell Henry, a wealthy politician from Manchester. The castle was sold to Benedictine Abbeys in 1920 and has since been run as an abbey for the Benedictine nuns. The Abbey and the estate are open to the public.
Ross Castle, Killarney, was built circa late 15th Century by the O’Donoghue Ross clan. The Castle came into the hands of the Brownes who became the Earls of Kenmare and owned an extensive portion of the lands that are now part of Killarney National Park . Ross Castle was the last stronghold in Munster to hold out against Cromwell. It was eventually taken by General Ludlow in 1652. The castle is open to the public.
Dunluce Castle, Co. Antrim, was built in the 13th Century by Richard Og de Burgh. The first recorded residents of the castle were the McQuillan family in the early 16th Century and later, the McDonnell clan of Antrim. At one point, part of the kitchen next to the cliff face collapsed into the sea, after which the wife of the owner refused to live in the castle any longer. The castle is open to the public today.
Lismore Castle is located in the town of Lismore, Co. Waterford. The site was originally occupied by an abbey in the 600s. Dating back to 1185 the present Gothic look of the castle was built and designed by William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Windsor in the 19th century. The Father of Modern Chemistry, Robert Boyle, was born here in 1627. Lismore served as the residence to Fred Astaire’s sister, Adele, who lived there with Lord Charles Cavendish until her death in 1981.The castle still serves as living quarters for the 12th Duke of Cavendish and his son. It houses an art gallery known as Lismore county arts and an impressive array of contemporary sculpture.
King John’s Castle in Limerick city can be found on King’s Island in Limerick located next to the Shannon River. A Viking settlement was first built on this location in 922. This castle was constructed in 1200 on the orders of King John, Lord of Ireland, The walls, towers, and fortifications remain today. The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster. The ruins are open to visitors and are a very popular tourist attraction today.
Kilkea Castle Kildare is one of Ireland’s oldest castles, built in the 12th Century by Hugh de Lacy for one of his Norman noblemen, Walter de Riddelsford. In 1414 the local O'Moores and the O'Dempsey clans were defeated in battle at Kilkea by the Lord Justice Kildare. The castle was rebuilt in 1426 and was later restored in 1849. Kilkea castle is one of the oldest inhabited castles in the country, and was run as hotel after the Fitzgerald clan sold it in the 1960s. The luxury castle hotel went into receivership in 2009 and is now up for rent.
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