Forget about hotels or bed and breakfasts. Treat yourself like royalty during your next vacation to Ireland with a stay at one of these historic castles.
Besides their picturesque backdrop and ancient atmosphere, these castles boast hundreds of years of history of battles and sieges.
Here are the top ten to stay at the next time you visit the Emerald Isle with friends and family.
1. Ballyportry Castle, County Clare
For those of you who are “Game of Thrones” obsessed this is the castle for you. This tower house stands 90-feet tall over the mystical rocky landscape of the Burren.
Ballyportry Castle was built by the O’Brien family in the late 15th century and served as the family residence during the 16th and 17th centuries until it fell into disrepair in the following century.
Archaeologists restored the tower house in the late twentieth century. Ballyporty Castle’s six bedrooms can hold up to eight overnight guests.
2. Belle Isle Castle, County Fermanagh
Constructed in the 12th century for the MacManus and the McGuire families, Belle Isle was originally called Ballymacmanus.
Belle Isle changed hands in the early 17th century to soldiers Paul Gore. Since then the castle has had multiple owners who have expanded the castle and added gardens and other features to the estate.
There are three cottages, which house four to six adults that are also available for your stay. The nine bedrooms furnished with antique pine furniture will house up to seventeen of your friends.
3. Cloghan Castle, County Galway
Cloghan Castle was built as a fortress in the 12th century and was inhabited until the 15th century.
The castle’s architecture includes the typical Norman features of arched doorways, circular turrets and battlements. After falling into disrepair, the castle was restored over the course of several years in the late 20th century.
Cloghan Castle has seven bedrooms that can house up to seventeen guests.
4. Fanningstown Castle, County Limerick
Invading Normans built Fanningstown Castle as a defensive outpost in the late 13th century. Dominick Fanning helped lead the resistance against Oliver Cromwell in the middle of the 17th century and he did not survive.
Restoration on the castle began in the middle of the 20th century. Fanningstown Castle’s five bedrooms house up to ten guests.
5. Killahara Castle, County Tipperary
Thomas Butler built Killahara Castle in 1495 as part of a defensive system to protect Butler lands in Tipperary. The castle replaced an earlier timber construction built in 1185.
Restoration begun in the early 21st century has preserved the five stone levels of the castle for future use. The seven bedrooms provide room for up to fourteen guests.
6. Lisheen Castle, County Tipperary
Lisheen Castle first enters the historical record in 1770 when it served as the home of the Lloyd family. The castle was built in the Tudor style with side turrets and a central machicolated turret around the main doorway. During the Famine, John Lloyd served on committees to devise employment and public work projects. Lisheen Castle has nine bedrooms that will house sixteen guests.
7. Turin Castle, County Mayo
Turin Castle’s origins are unclear. The castle’s name comes from the old Irish meaning “small bleaching field,” which suggests the residents were involved with sheep farming.
The castle was abandoned in the middle of the 18th century. Turin Castle sits between the lakes of Connemara and the village of Cong of “Quiet Man” fame. Turin Castle has five bedrooms that house up to ten guests.
8. Lough Cutra Castle, County Galway
World renowned architect John Nash designed the Gothic style castle for Colonel Vereker after he inherited the estate in 1797.
Construction was completed in 1858 and the entertainment at the castle attracted famous visitors including W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. Since the late 19th century the castle has changed hands several times. Lough Cutra has nine bedroom that provide room for up to forty guests.
9. Ballynagowan Castle, County Clare
The castle takes its name from beal-atha-an-ghobhan which means the mouth of the smith’s ford.General Ludlow, fighting under Oliver Cromwell, attacked the castle in 1649.
Ballynagowan Castle’s heir Conor O’Brien was fatally wounded in a skirmish against Ludlow at Inchicronan in 1651. His wife, “The Red Mary” fought alongside him. According to tradition she married several English generals to protect her children’s inheritance to the castle and all of her husbands met their end in mysterious ways.
Ballynagowan has four bedrooms that house up to eight guests.
10. Ballybur Castle, County Kilkenny
The ancient seat of the Comerford clan, Ballybur Castle is a sixth century tower house with five floors rising 65-feet.
John Comerford was the last Comerford to reside at the castle. He was banished to Connaught in 1654 and his castle handed over to Brian Manseragh during the Cromwellian distribution survey.
Ballybur Castle has four bedrooms that house up to twelve guests.
* Bookings can be made online and rates vary by guest count, length of stay, and season. Many of the castles are also available for weddings.