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Castles in Ireland

The Emerald Isle has captured the imagination of writers and travellers for generations. Take one look at Irish castles, culture and scenery, however, and it’s easy to see why.

Ireland is cloaked in ancient legends, feeding the imagination of all who visit. Its fantastical landscapes could well hide fairies, while it isn’t hard to imagine fearsome dragons guarding the castles nestled in its valleys. Tall towers and powerful, hulking battlements dominate the land: an enticing presence that’s hard to resist.

The castles in Ireland are begging to be explored, and with so many to choose from, the country is perfect for castle holidays and road trips. If you aren’t sure where to start, take a look at the castle map, below, for inspiration.

Explore all the castles Ireland has to offer

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Otherwise known as the ‘Emerald Isle’, the lush Irish countryside has placed the country at the top of many travellers’ bucket lists. Combine this with awe-inspiring fortifications, a rugged coastline and literary exports like Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, and you have the recipe for a perfect batch of castle holidays.

What better place to start than Dublin, where the coast meets the city? Its streets are built on layers of history, with the city dating back to the Viking age. Nowadays, you’ll find everything from quirky restaurants to magnificent museums, all interspersed with seaside villages and some of the very best Irish castles.

One of these is Malahide castle, a fortress set in tranquil grounds that provide an escape from Dublin’s urban core. As one of the oldest castles in Ireland, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Take a tour of Malahide and explore architecture dating back to the 12th century, as well as corridors that have belonged to the Talbot family for 800 years! The walled garden is a particular highlight, boasting seven beautiful glasshouses.

Want to stay the night and turn your visit into an exciting road trip? Stay in a castle like Cabra, which is a scenic drive along the coast from Malahide.

Nestled deep in County Cavan (also known as ‘the Lakeland county’), you can’t miss this sprawling structure. With a nine-hole golf course, tennis court and 100 acres of beautifully manicured gardens at your disposal, you can enjoy your stay in complete tranquillity. With four-poster beds and free-standing roll-top baths on offer, too, you’re sure to feel like royalty.

Castle breaks in Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Birr castle in County Offaly. Home to rare trees and flowers, peaceful walking routes and heaps of wildlife, the grounds of Birr castle are just as impressive as the building itself. The interior of the castle is a haven of baroque design and beautifully-preserved antiques, and is best appreciated with a guided tour.

County Offaly itself is home to the earliest evidence of human settlement in Ireland, alongside some truly stunning scenery. Head to Lough Boora Discovery Park to witness a habitat dating back some 8,000 years, or stroll the Grand Canal Trail.

If you’re heading east from here, Ashford castle is the ideal place to spend the night. The palatial interior is unforgettable: all four-poster beds, luxurious textiles and opulent décor. And with a host of celebrity patrons under its belt, you can rest assured that a stay in a castle like Ashford will be nothing less than spectacular.

Are you lacking inspiration or struggling to choose between the castles in Ireland? Road trip your way across the country using one of the itineraries below.

Explore castle road trips in Ireland

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On this road trip, you head to the east coast of the Emerald Isle for a tour of Dublin. Brimming with historic landmarks and lush countryside, it’s no wonder Dublin features at the top of many travellers’ bucket lists. It is a landscape reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands: wild moorlands, towering mountains and secret valleys boast romantic ruins and imposing castles. On this three-day road trip, you will travel back to the 1500s and experience what it was like to live at Dalkey Castle; you may even meet a few characters along the way! Explore the mouth of the River Liffey and walk where Vikings once settled. At Malahide Castle, you will find a 260-acre estate composed of fine ornamental gardens. Receive the royal treatment at an Irish castle hotel. After a long day of exploring, settle down with a smooth Irish whiskey and a roaring fire. And, as you are in Dublin, try a real pint of “the black stuff”! With so much to see and do, what are you waiting for?

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You are heading south on this five-day road trip around Ireland. Visit gentle rolling hills and green pastures around County Clare. If you love coarse fishing, the River Shannon promises some of the best spots in Ireland. Along with Clare’s coastline, you will find plenty of castles and historic buildings to explore: from remote ruins to perfectly preserved strongholds offering the very best in five-star luxury accommodation. Irish castle hotels are renowned for their exceptional quality and individuality, offering an experience you will never forget. If you want something a little more intimate, Ireland offers plenty of opportunities for romantic getaways. Why not treat your loved one to an authentic castle banquet?