Ireland is home to over 30,000 castles. Say what?
Yes, there are several castles in Ireland that even locals already lost count. These castles were built as early as 10th century and although most of them have already seen its days, these castle ruins still possess the grandeur they once had. There are also few castles that have been restored and still standing proudly up to this day.
These castles are scattered all throughout Ireland and it’s hard to decide which castles to prioritize. So if you have limited time, this guide to the best castles in Ireland can help you decide.
- 15 Best Castles In Ireland
- 1.Blarney Castle, County Cork
- 2.Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny
- 3.Trim Castle, County Meath
- 4.Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary
- 5.Glenveagh Castle, Co. Donegal
- 6.King John’s Castle, Co. Limerick
- 7.Bunratty Castle, County Shannon
- 8. Ross Castle, County Kerry
- 9. Slane Castle
- 10.Kylemore Castle
- 11.Cahir Castle
- 12.Athlone Castle
- 13. Ashford Castle, County Mayo
- 14.Malahide Castle, County Dublin
- 15.Dunluce Castle, County Antrim
15 Best Castles In Ireland
1.Blarney Castle, County Cork
One of Ireland’s most popular attraction is Blarney castle. It was built nearly six hundred years ago by Cormac MacCarthy, one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains. Surrounding the castle are extensive gardens. There are paths touring the grounds with signs pointing out the various attractions such as several natural rock formations.
Aside from the castle itself, the place is also popular because of Blarney Stone. In order to get the gift of eloquence, for over 200 years many famous people from around the world visit Blarney to kiss the famous Blarney stone. There is an ongoing debate over the story of Blarney stone but no one has been able to prove the origin of the stone.
9 am to 5 pm
€16 for adult, €13 for student and seniors, and €40 for a family. For more information regarding booking, click here.
Location: Blarney, Cork, Ireland
Phone: +353 21 4385252
2.Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny
Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several routeways. It was a symbol of Norman occupation and it is an important site to the history of Kilkenny. In 1967, the Castle was transferred to the people of Kilkenny for £50. The Kilkenny Castle is now one of the very few castles in Ireland that offer tours to the public. The garden and park in the castle complex are also open to the public.
Daily from 9 am to 5:30 pm
Adult € 8.00 | child € 4.00 | Family € 20.00
Address: The Parade, Collegepark, Kilkenny, Ireland
Phone: +353 56 770 4106
For other visitor’s information, click here.
3.Trim Castle, County Meath
Trim Castle is a Norman castle on the south bank of River Boyne in the town of Trim and currently the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. The castle was built in 1173 by Hugh de Lacy, the castle was used as a center of Norman administration for the Lordship of Meath. It is also probably best known as the setting for Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.
This castle in Ireland boasts imposing twenty-sided towers protected by curtain wall and moat. It was a great example of experimental military architecture during its period. If you want to learn more about the legacy of this castle, this day trip from Dublin is a must.
Opening hours varies depending on the season. For an updated list of opening hours, click here.
€5 per adult, €3 for student and €13 for a family of 4. It includes access to the Trim Castle grounds and audio-visual show at the visitor centre. You can get a ticket from the visitor centre.
Location: Trim, Co Meath
Phone: +353 46 943 8619
4.Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary
The Rock of Cashel, also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock, is a historic site located at Cashel in County Tipperary. It is one of the most spectacular attractions in Ireland and also one of the most visited castles in Ireland.
This iconic landmark was the seat of the High Kings of Munster and was built between the 12th to the 13th century.
9 am to 4:30 pm during winter and 9 am to 7 pm during the summer.
Adult : €8.00, Group / Senior : €6.00, Child / Student : €4.00, Family : €20.00
Location: Rock of Cashel, Moor, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
Phone: 062 61437
5.Glenveagh Castle, Co. Donegal
Set in some 16,500 hectares of County Donegal mountains, Glenveagh Castle is a 19th Century, a castellated mansion built between 1870 and 1873 in Letterkenny. The Scottish Baronial-style Irish castle is built by Captain John George Adair. When he picked the location for his castle, he went as far as evicting 244 tenants to have privacy.
The gardens around the house were planted in a free-flowing style with exotic species from Tasmania, Madeira, and Chile. The Glenveagh gardens itself is a major attraction aside from the surrounding lakes and forest in the area.
9 am to 5 pm but check in advance first as the castle tour is limited during off-peak and winter season. To verify the schedule, click here.
Adult Castle Ticket €7.00 | Concession Castle Ticket €5.00 | Family Castle Ticket €15.00
Location: Glenveagh, Churchhill, Letterkenny, Donegal
Phone: +353 76 1002537
6.King John’s Castle, Co. Limerick
King John’s Castle is a 13th-century castle located on King’s Island in Limerick and next to the River Shannon. This Irish castle overlooks the river and the panoramic view of Limerick City.
The stunning new exhibition brings to life over 800 years of King John’s Castle and Limerick City’s dramatic history all through Touch-screen technology which will connect visitors to tales of siege and warfare.
09.30 am – 5 pm
€10 for adult, €5 for children and €22 for family (2 adult + 2 children)
Address: Nicholas St, Limerick, Ireland
Phone: +353 61 360788
7.Bunratty Castle, County Shannon
Bunratty Castle is a large 15th-century tower house in County Clare. The name Bunratty, Bun Raite in Irish, means “river basin” of the ‘Ratty’ river. This river, alongside the castle, flows into the nearby Shannon estuary.
The castle was built in 1425 and was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendor. It now contains mainly 15th and 16th-century furnishings, tapestries, and works of art which capture the mood of those times. To live up to its medieval look, medieval banquets are held in the castle in the evenings and it’s open to the public to enjoy.
Daily from 9:00am- 5.30pm
Adult €15. Child/Student €9. Family (2 adults and 4 children under 18) €34.25.
Location: Bunratty West, Bunratty, Co. Clare, Ireland
8. Ross Castle, County Kerry
Ross Castle is also one of the best places to visit in Killarney and one of the must-see castles in Ireland. The castle is 15th-century tower house built by O’Donoghues Mor, a local ruling clan on the edge of Lough Leane.
The castle has a long history of rebellions and wars and it is said to be the last castle to surrender during the Irish Confederate Wars.
9.30 am to 5:45 pm
Adult: €5.00, Group/Senior: €4.00, Child/Student: €3.00 , Family: €13.00
Location: Ross Island, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Phone: +353 64 663 5851
9. Slane Castle
Slane Castle is located within the Boyne Valley near Navan and is set in the middle of a 1,500-acre estate. The castle was built in the 18th century and has been a family seat for the Conyngham family. Today, the castle is a famous concert venue which held concerts for world music icons such as The Rolling Stones, U2, Madonna, Guns N’ Roses, Bob Dylan, Queens, Bruce Springsteen to name a few.
The guided tours to the castle are seasonal and only if there’s no event. To check for the latest tour schedule, click here.
Adults: €12.00, Children: €7.20, Students, O.A.P.’s & Groups: €10.80, Children under 5 years are free
Location: Navan Road, Slane Meath
Phone: +353 41 9820643
Kylemore Castle was built by Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from England, as a gift to his wife Margaret in 1871. It was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1903 and was then purchased by the Irish Benedictine nuns in 1920. Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine monastery was then founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara. Since the 1970s, the estate has been opened to the public.
Nestled at the base of Druchruach Mountain and along the shore of Lough Pollacappul in Connemara, the Abbey is one of the most iconic attractions in Galway, Ireland. It is also one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland. And no visit to Ireland is complete without spending a half day to the castle ground.
9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Last admission is at 4 pm.
€13 for adult, €9 for student, €10 for senior, and €26.00 for a family of 4.
Location: Kylemore Abbey, Pollacappul, Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland
Cahir Castle is one of the largest castles of Ireland. It is located on an island in the river of Suir, in the town of Cahir, County Tipperary. Built-in 1142 by the Prince of Thomond, Conor O’Brien, it was designed as a defensive castle with state-of-the-art facilities. However, the castle was besieged multiple times during the Irish Confederate Wars.
Daily 09.30 – 17.30
Mid-June – August
Daily 09.00 – 18.30
September – Mid October
Daily 09.30 – 17.30
Mid October – February
Daily 09.30 – 16.30
Location: Castle St, Townparks, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
Phone: +353 (52) 744 1011
John de Gray, the Bishop of Norwich, constructed Athlone Castle amid the Norman Invasion of Ireland dating from the 12th century. It was fortified a few times and it was built to protect and defend the crossing point in Athlone and to provide support to facilitate the Norman advance into Connaught.
The castle is a free-standing polygonal tower built inside a moat and it’s one of the popular castles and attractions in Ireland.
For an updated list of opening hours, click here.
Adult €8, Senior/Student €6, Children/Under 15 €4, Children under the age of 4 are free, Family (2 adults & 2 children) €2
Location: St Peter’s Square, Athlone, County Westmeath, N37 A6D7
Phone: +353 90 6442130
13. Ashford Castle, County Mayo
Ashford Castle is a medieval and Victorian Ireland castle that was turned into a 5-star hotel over the years in County Mayo. Built in 1228 by the House of Burke, an Anglo-Norman family, ownership was later transferred to other rich Irish families. In the 19th century, the Guinness family, known for their accomplishments in brewing (Guinness beer anyone?) and other business, bought the estate and transformed it. It was later sold to Noel Huggard who made the castle a hotel.
To check the rates for this castle hotel, click here.
Location: Ashford Castle Estate, Cong, Co. Mayo, F31 CA48, Ireland
Phone: +353 94 954 6003
14.Malahide Castle, County Dublin
Malahide Castle is one of the oldest castles in Ireland which dates back as far as 1175. This is also one of the few castles in Dublin County and it’s located in the remaining parklands of Malahide Demesne Regional Park.
The Malahide Castle was home to Talbot Family for almost 800 years and survived many wars and also the deaths of its previous owners inside the palace. For 11 years, the castle was given by Oliver Cromwell to Miles Corbet after the English Parliament conquered Ireland. He hanged himself following the death of Cromwell.
The Talbot family took the castle back but it was followed the death of 14 members where they didn’t make it back after the Battle of Boyne near Drogheda. Now, this Irish castle is owned by the State as the last member of Talbot family sold it.
9.30am- 5.30pm Monday-Sunday
Student / OAP €8
Child (under 12) €6
Location: Malahide Demesne, Malahide, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Phone: +353 1 816 9538
15.Dunluce Castle, County Antrim
Dunluce Castle is now a ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland. It is located on the edge of rocks on the coast of County Antrim. Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster, built the first castle in Dunluce. From then on, this Irish castle witnessed a long and tumultuous history between Scotland, Ireland, and UK.
Dunluce castle is also said to be the inspiration for Cair Paravel, the fictional castle in Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. It is also the film location of Game of Thrones for the Seat of House Greyjoy of the great castle of Pyke.
Daily: 10 am – 4 pm (last entry strictly at 3:30 pm)
Adult – £5.50, Child (age 4 – 16) – £3.50
Senior citizen £3.50
Student and Benefit Claimants (ID required) – £3.50
Child under 4 – Free
Family (up to 5 members, including up to 3 adults) – £15.00
Group rate(10 plus, must be pre-booked) – £4 per person
Location: 87 Dunluce Road, Bushmills, County Antrim, BT57 8UY
Phone: (028) 2073 1938