15 Must-See and Best Castles In Ireland To Visit

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

blarney castle

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.

Opening Hours

9 am to 5 pm

Admission Fee

€16 for adult, €13 for student and seniors, and €40 for a family. For more information regarding booking, click here.

Contact Information

Location: Blarney, Cork, Ireland

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +353 21 4385252

2.Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny

kilkenny castle ireland

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.

Opening Hours

Daily from 9 am to 5:30 pm

Admission Fee

Adult € 8.00 | child € 4.00 | Family € 20.00

Contact Information

Address: The Parade, Collegepark, Kilkenny, Ireland

Phone: +353 56 770 4106

Email: [email protected]

For other visitor’s information, click here

3.Trim Castle, County Meath

trim castle ireland

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 the 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.

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Opening Hours

Opening hours varies depending on the season. For an updated list of opening hours, click here.

Admission Fee

€5 per adult, €3 for student and €13 for a family of 4. It includes an access to the Trim Castle grounds and audio-visual show at the visitor center. You can get the ticket from the visitor center.

Contact Information

Location: Trim, Co Meath

Phone: +353 46 943 8619 

Email:  [email protected] 

4.Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary

Rock of Cashel

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 12th to 13th century.

Opening Hours

9 am to 4:30 pm during winter and 9 am to 7 pm during the summer.

Admission Fee

Adult : €8.00, Group / Senior : €6.00, Child / Student : €4.00, Family : €20.00

Contact Information

Location: Rock of Cashel, Moor, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

Phone: 062 61437

Email: [email protected]

5.Glenveagh Castle, Co. Donegal

Bunratty Castle

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.

Opening Hours:

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.

Admission Fee

Adult Castle Ticket €7.00 | Concession Castle Ticket €5.00 | Family Castle Ticket €15.00

Contact Information

Location: Glenveagh, Churchhill, Letterkenny, Donegal

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +353 76 1002537

6.King John’s Castle, Co. Limerick

King John’s Castle

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.

Opening Hours

09.30 am – 5 pm

Admission Fee

€10 for adult, €5 for children and €22 for family (2 adult + 2 children)

Contact Information

Address: Nicholas St, Limerick, Ireland

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +353 61 360788

7.Bunratty Castle, County Shannon

Bunratty Castle in Ireland

 

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.

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Opening Hours

Daily from 9:00am- 5.30pm

Admission Fee

Adult €15. Child/Student €9. Family (2 adults and 4 children under 18) €34.25.

Contact Information

Location: Bunratty West, Bunratty, Co. Clare, Ireland

Email: [email protected]

Phone: N/A

8. Ross Castle, County Kerry

Ross Castle KILLARNEY

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.

Opening Hours:

9.30 am to 5:45 pm

Admission Fee

Adult: €5.00, Group/Senior: €4.00, Child/Student: €3.00 , Family: €13.00

Contact Information

Location:  Ross Island, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Email:  [email protected]

Phone: +353 64 663 5851

9. Slane Castle

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.

Opening Hours

The guided tours to the castle are seasonal and only if there’s no event. To check for the latest tour schedule, click here.

Admission Fee

Adults: €12.00, Children: €7.20, Students, O.A.P.’s & Groups: €10.80, Children under 5 years are free

Contact Information

Location: Navan Road, Slane Meath

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +353 41 9820643

10.Kylemore Castle

kylemore abbey castle

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 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.

Opening Hours

9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Last admission is at 4 pm.

Admission Fee

€13 for adult, €9 for student, €10 for senior, and €26.00 for family of 4.

Contact Information

Location:  Kylemore Abbey, Pollacappul, Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland

Email: [email protected]com

Phone: N/A

11.Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle

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.

Opening Hours

March – Mid June
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

Admission Fee

Adult: €5.00

Group/Senior: €4.00

Child/Student: €3.00

Family: €13.00

Contact Information

Location: Castle St, Townparks, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +353 (52) 744 1011 

12.Athlone Castle

Athlone Castle Westmeath

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 a support to facilitate the Norman advance into Connaught.

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The castle is a free-standing polygonal tower built inside a moat and it’s one of the popular castles and attractions in Ireland.

Opening Hours

For an updated list of opening hours, click here.

Admission Fee

Adult €8, Senior/Student €6, Children/Under 15 €4, Children under the age of 4 are free, Family (2 adults & 2 children) €2

Contact Information

Location: St Peter’s Square, Athlone, County Westmeath, N37 A6D7

Email:[email protected]

Phone: +353 90 6442130

13. Ashford Castle, County Mayo

Ashford Castle County Mayo

Ashford Castle is a medieval and Victorian Ireland castle that was turned into a 5-star hotel over the years. 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.

The castle hotel in Ireland is a member of Leading Hotels of the World organization and is considered one of the best hotels in the world.

To check the rates for this castle hotel, click here.

Contact Information

Location: Ashford Castle Estate, Cong, Co. Mayo, F31 CA48, Ireland

Email:[email protected]

Phone: +353 94 954 6003

14.Malahide Castle, County Dublin

Malahide Castle

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.

Opening Hours

9.30am- 5.30pm Monday-Sunday

Admission Fee

Adults €12

Student / OAP €8

Child (under 12) €6

Family €26

Contact Information

Location: Malahide Demesne, Malahide, Co. Dublin, Ireland

Email: [email protected]

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.

Dunce 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.

Opening Hours

Daily: 10 am – 4 pm (last entry strictly at 3:30 pm)

Admission Fee

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

Contact Information

Location: 87 Dunluce Road, Bushmills, County Antrim, BT57 8UY

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (028) 2073 1938


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Comments

  1. I have only ever been to Blarney and Kilkenny castle. My ex is from Kilkenny and I was so jealous that he got to grow up a stone’s throw away from the castle. As for Blarney, kissing the Blarney stone for the gift of gab was an experience in itself.

  2. This tips are great to visit in Ireland. I haven’t been there, and didn’t know that they have so many castles to explore. Will keep note on this one in the future.

  3. That’s so amazing you were able to pack in so many historic sites and castles here! I love seeing churches and old ruins and it’s amazing how castles have so much history behind them. I wonder a lot about the stories behind those walls. Very cool photos! They make me want to visit

  4. How much I would love to step back in time and see these castles in their glory days. They are marvelous. I cannot wait to get to Ireland.

  5. I am not a big fan of castles. But this list that you have provided looks stunning. The castles with such an amazing backdrop would surely fit right into my list of things to do while visiting Iceland.

  6. Ireland is definitely on my bucket list and I am in love with its architecture. Thank you for adding its contact details, addresses and fees. This is really a perfect guide when visiting castles.

  7. A stunning collection of castles – such a scenic country and so close to me in the UK, but I’ve only been a couple of times. May have to plan a road trip to visit all these castles!

  8. I have heard a lot about castles of Ireland and all of these listed in your post look worth visiting. Ashford Castle and Kylemore Castle look very stunning, majestic and very photogenic to me.

  9. I want to live in all of these… but Trim honestly looks like a castle from my wildest goth princess dreams!! Great guide, thanks so much!!

  10. It’s incredible, these places look like from a fairy tale or a movie. My favorite would be Cashel – just so dreamy.

  11. So many castles, so little time! I actually haven’t visited any castles in Rep. Ireland and have never even been to Northern Ireland, but as I’m from Wales I know a good castle when I see one 😉 And Rep. Ireland & N. Ireland definitely have their fare share!
    I especially love ruined castles, so I think if I had to choose 1 from your list that I want to visit most, it’d be Dunluce.

  12. Sold. I need to go to Ireland and see these. I may have missed it, but do any of them allow you to stay for the night? I’ve dreamt of having a romantic weekend away in a castle 🙂

  13. Wow! Such mesmerizing castles. They look absolutely stunning and so inviting. Which one do your highly recommend visiting if I only had one day blocked for castles? Thanks for sharing anyways.

  14. I am so so very fond of castles. And this is the primary reason that I am longing for Ireland. This post increased my appetite to visit the place soon in near future.

  15. Ever since I was ten, I have always wanted to see castles. I heard the stories from my neighbors grandma who was the sweetest woman. She had books and books and crest from her family lineage. The stories of the castles are things I’ll never forget. That’s way my trip to Ireland will be a thorough month to month exploration of the history. I’ve saved your info. Thank you.

  16. Wow! I love to visit castles, I started to visit some this year well, first one was in Germany and it was incredible. Looking at this beautiful list you have wow! I’m ready to pack and visit Ireland.

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