How Many Castles are in Ireland?

Top 5 Castles in Ireland

Presented by Juniper Tours

It’s difficult to determine an exact number of castles in Ireland as there are many different types of structures that can be considered castles, and the definition of what constitutes a castle can be subjective. Additionally, many castles in Ireland have been destroyed or fallen into ruin over the centuries.

However, it is estimated that there are over 30,000 castle ruins in Ireland, with some of the most famous examples being Dublin Castle, Blarney Castle, Kilkenny Castle, Bunratty Castle, and Ashford Castle. There are also many other less well-known castles scattered throughout the country, some of which may be privately owned or inaccessible to the public.

Keep reading to uncover Juniper’s Top 5 Castles to visit in Ireland

  1. Blarney Castle – Located near Cork, Blarney Castle is known for its famous Blarney Stone, which visitors can kiss for the gift of eloquence. The castle itself is also impressive, with a history dating back over 600 years.

  2. Dublin Castle – Situated in the heart of the capital city, Dublin Castle has been a symbol of English rule in Ireland since the 13th century. Today, it is used for state functions and ceremonies.

  3. Kilkenny Castle – Located in the city of Kilkenny, this 12th-century castle was once the seat of the powerful Butler family. Visitors can explore the castle’s interior and extensive grounds.

  4. Bunratty Castle – Located in County Clare, this 15th-century castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland. Visitors can tour the castle’s interior and also visit the nearby folk park to learn about traditional Irish life.

  5. Ashford Castle – Situated in County Mayo, Ashford Castle is a luxurious hotel that is also open for tours. The castle dates back to the 13th century and has a rich history, having been owned by various aristocratic families over the centuries.

Dromoland Castle Exterior lake

Blarney Castle is undoubtedly one of the best castles to visit in Ireland, and there are several reasons why. Firstly, the castle itself is visually stunning and has a rich history dating back over 600 years. The castle’s imposing stone walls, towers, and battlements create a sense of awe and wonder, making it an ideal destination for castle enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Secondly, the Blarney Stone is a major draw for visitors to the castle. According to legend, those who kiss the stone are granted the gift of eloquence, or the “gift of gab.” This makes for a fun and quirky experience that is sure to be memorable for travelers of all ages.

Thirdly, Blarney Castle is located in a beautiful part of Ireland, near the charming town of Cork. Visitors to the castle can enjoy the scenic countryside views and explore the lush gardens and woodland areas that surround the castle.

Finally, Blarney Castle offers a range of activities and attractions beyond the castle itself, including a poison garden, a fairy garden, and a shopping village. This means that visitors can easily spend a full day exploring the castle and its surrounding areas, making it an ideal destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.

In summary, Blarney Castle is one of the best castles to visit in Ireland due to its impressive architecture, famous Blarney Stone, stunning location, and range of additional attractions. A visit to this iconic Irish landmark is sure to be a highlight of any trip to the Emerald Isle.

Woman in a red dress in Blarney Castle, Cork, Ireland

Dublin Castle is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Irish history and culture. This magnificent castle has stood in the heart of Dublin for over 800 years, and it has played a pivotal role in shaping the country’s political and cultural landscape.

One of the main reasons why Dublin Castle is among the best castles to visit in Ireland is because of its architectural grandeur. The castle’s imposing stone walls, turrets, and towers create an unforgettable sight that transports visitors back in time. The castle’s interior is equally impressive, with intricate carvings, stunning stonework, and rich tapestries that reflect Ireland’s medieval past.

Dublin Castle is also famous for its role in Irish history. For centuries, it was the seat of English rule in Ireland and the site of many pivotal political events, including the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, which led to the establishment of the Irish Free State. Today, visitors can explore the castle’s State Apartments and learn about Ireland’s complex history and struggle for independence.

Aside from its historical significance, Dublin Castle is also an active cultural hub. It hosts a range of exhibitions, events, and performances throughout the year, including concerts, lectures, and art exhibitions. Visitors can also enjoy a range of dining options, from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants.

Finally, Dublin Castle is located in the heart of Dublin, making it easily accessible for travelers. Visitors can explore the surrounding areas, including the city’s many museums, galleries, and cultural landmarks.

Overall, Dublin Castle is a fascinating destination that combines historical significance, architectural beauty, and cultural richness. A visit to this iconic Irish landmark is sure to be a highlight of any trip to Dublin.

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Kilkenny Castle is a stunning example of medieval architecture and one of the best castles to visit in Ireland. Here are some reasons why you should add Kilkenny Castle to your travel itinerary.

First and foremost, the castle is located in the heart of the charming city of Kilkenny, which is often referred to as Ireland’s “medieval capital.” Visitors can explore the city’s winding streets, colorful buildings, and vibrant culture before or after visiting the castle. Kilkenny is known for its lively arts and music scene, making it an ideal destination for travelers who want to immerse themselves in Irish culture.

Secondly, Kilkenny Castle itself is an impressive sight to behold. Built in the 12th century, the castle has been carefully restored and maintained over the years. Visitors can explore the castle’s interior, which includes ornate ceilings, rich tapestries, and period furnishings. The castle’s gardens are also a highlight, featuring formal terraces, a rose garden, and a rare collection of trees and plants.

Thirdly, Kilkenny Castle has played an important role in Irish history. It was the seat of the powerful Butler family for centuries and was also used as a military barracks during the 19th century. Visitors can learn about the castle’s fascinating past through guided tours, exhibitions, and interactive displays.

Finally, Kilkenny Castle is family-friendly and offers a range of activities for visitors of all ages. Kids can participate in interactive exhibits, dress up in period costumes, and explore the castle’s extensive grounds. There are also regular events and workshops held at the castle, such as craft fairs, music festivals, and art exhibitions.

In summary, Kilkenny Castle is one of the best castles to visit in Ireland due to its stunning architecture, rich history, beautiful gardens, and family-friendly atmosphere. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone interested in medieval architecture, Irish history, and culture.

Kilkenny Castle with green grass and cloudy sky

Bunratty Castle is one of the best castles to visit in Ireland, and there are several reasons why.

Firstly, the castle itself is an impressive sight, with its imposing stone walls, towers, and battlements. The castle was originally built in the 15th century and has been carefully restored to its former glory. Visitors can explore the castle’s interior, which includes period furnishings, artwork, and intricate tapestries that reflect Ireland’s rich history and culture.

Secondly, Bunratty Castle is located in a picturesque setting, surrounded by lush greenery and rolling hills. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside and explore the castle’s extensive grounds, which include formal gardens, woodland areas, and a river walk. There are also regular events and festivals held at the castle, such as medieval banquets, concerts, and historical reenactments.

Thirdly, Bunratty Castle is family-friendly and offers a range of activities for visitors of all ages. Kids can participate in interactive exhibits, dress up in period costumes, and explore the castle’s dungeons and towers. The castle also has a folk park, which features reconstructed historic buildings, traditional craftspeople, and farm animals.

Finally, Bunratty Castle is located in close proximity to other popular tourist destinations, such as the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. Visitors can easily combine a visit to Bunratty Castle with other nearby attractions to make the most of their time in Ireland.

In summary, Bunratty Castle is one of the best castles to visit in Ireland due to its impressive architecture, picturesque setting, family-friendly atmosphere, and proximity to other popular tourist destinations. A visit to this iconic Irish landmark is sure to be a highlight of any trip to Ireland.

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Ashford Castle is one of the best castles to visit in Ireland, and there are several reasons why.

Firstly, Ashford Castle is one of Ireland’s most iconic and luxurious castles, situated on the banks of Lough Corrib in County Mayo. The castle has a rich history dating back to the 13th century, and has been transformed into a world-class hotel that offers visitors the opportunity to experience a slice of Irish aristocracy.

Secondly, the castle itself is a stunning sight to behold, with its turrets, towers, and sweeping gardens. Visitors can explore the castle’s interior, which has been restored to its former grandeur, with period furnishings and antique artwork. The castle also boasts modern amenities, such as a luxury spa, fine dining restaurants, and a range of outdoor activities.

Thirdly, Ashford Castle is surrounded by natural beauty, including vast woodlands, serene lakes, and rolling hills. Visitors can take a stroll through the castle’s extensive grounds, which include formal gardens, walking trails, and a stunning golf course. The castle also offers a range of outdoor activities, such as fishing, horseback riding, and falconry.

Finally, Ashford Castle is located in close proximity to several popular tourist destinations, such as the Cliffs of Moher and Connemara National Park. Visitors can easily combine a visit to Ashford Castle with other nearby attractions to make the most of their time in Ireland.

In summary, Ashford Castle is one of the best castles to visit in Ireland due to its luxurious accommodations, stunning architecture, natural beauty, and proximity to other popular tourist destinations. A visit to this iconic Irish landmark is sure to be a memorable experience for any traveler seeking a taste of aristocratic life in Ireland.

Entire Ashford Castle on a cloudy day

In conclusion, Ireland is home to hundreds of castles, each with its own unique history and charm. While it is impossible to visit them all, these five castles – Blarney Castle, Dublin Castle, Kilkenny Castle, Bunratty Castle, and Ashford Castle – stand out as some of the best to visit. They offer a glimpse into Ireland’s rich history, stunning architecture, natural beauty, and cultural heritage. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or just want to experience a slice of Irish aristocracy, a visit to these castles is sure to be a memorable experience.

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