Carlingford Castle, County Louth by Richard Browne

What are the Best Castles to See in Ireland?

Ireland has no shortage of castles — there are approximately a thousand castles spread throughout the island, though no complete and accurate list exists.

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Ashford Castle. Image by Stacy

Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle is a stunning building and grounds set near the quiet rural village of Cong, County Mayo — the shooting location of everyone’s favourite olden-days Irish movie, The Quiet Man starring John Wayne.

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Dunluce Castle. Image by Greg Clarke

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is a crumbling, medieval ruin perched majestically atop a steep, rocky promontory, with a huge sea cave beneath.  

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Image by Robert Müller

Malahide Castle

Malahide Castle is set on 250 acres of park land in the picturesque seaside town of Malahide.

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Image by Brian Yap

Dublin Castle

Built in the 13th century for King John by the Anglo Normans, Dublin Castle’s complex of regal buildings has symbolized seven centuries of British rule.

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Ross Castle and Killarney lakes. Image by FarbenfroheWunderwelt

Ross Castle

Ross Castle, located in Killarney, is set in an idyllic location among some of Ireland’s finest scenery.

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Kilkenny Castle. Image by Marcus Meissner

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle is a sumptuous 12th century building with a beautiful park, which together dominate the surrounding medieval town of Kilkenny.

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King John's Castle on River Shannon. Image by Marion Wacker

King John’s Castle

Located on King’s Island in Limerick, King John’s Castle offers panoramic views over both the city and the River Shannon from its distinctive drum towers.

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Donegal Castle. Image by Hec Tate

Donegal Castle

Donegal Castle, or O’Donnell’s Castle, is a small but impressive 17th century building with a distinctive fortified tower, which has been fully restored.

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Image by Heather Elias

Blarney Castle and Blarney Stone

Blarney Castle in Cork is most famous for its “Stone of Eloquence”, known internationally as the Blarney Stone.

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Image by Irish Typepad

The Rock of Cashel

The word Cashel is derived from a Gaelic  word meaning “fortress” and it’s not hard to see why.

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Barbican gate entrance to Dunamase. Image by Keith Ewing

The Rock of Dunamase

A short distance from the town of Portlaoise, in dramatic contrast to the surrounding flat countryside of most of County Laois, rises the Rock of Dunamase, with its ancient castle on top. 

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Trim Castle

Trim Castle

One of Ireland’s finest castles and unmissable upon entering the town, Trim Castle truly dominates the surrounding landscape.

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Slane Castle. Image by Hilary Gaunt

Slane Castle

The tiny Georgian village of Slane is located along the River Boyne.

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Birr Castle exterior. Image by Luke Ravitch.

Birr Castle Demesne

Birr Castle in County Offaly is a magnificent old castle that has been the private family home of the Parsons family since the early 17th century.

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Charleville Castle, County Offaly by Irish Fireside

Charleville Forest Castle

Located near the town of Tullamore, Charleville Castle is nestled among the huge and ancient oak trees that were once held sacred by the Druids.

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Bunratty Castle. Image by John Menard

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Overlooking the River Shannon, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in County Clare one of the country’s most popular visitor attractions.

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Knappogue Castle. Image by gengish skan.

Knappogue Castle

Situated near Quin, County Clare, Knappogue Castle, or Caislean na Cnapoige, means “the castle of the place abounding in little hills”.

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Dysert O’Dea Castle and Archaeology Centre

This medieval tower house, built in 1480 by the Gaelic nobleman Diarmud O’Dea, today houses the Clare Archaeology Centre. 

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Parkes Castle. Image by Gert van der Ende

Parkes Castle

Parkes Castle sits proudly on the shoreline of Lough Gill at Five Mile Burren, just outside the town of Dromahair in County Leitrim, and only a few miles from Sligo town.

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Leamaneh Castle. Image by Stéphane Moussie.

Leamaneh Castle

Leamaneh Castle is the imposing ruin of a mansion house located between Corofin and Kilfenora in the region known as The Burren in County Clare.

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Enniskillen Castle. Image by Mario Ray Borg.

Eniskillen Castle Museums

In the town of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, this strategic and well-preserved stronghold today houses two museums — the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Regimental Museum and the Fermanagh County Museum.

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Athlone Castle. Image by Livio Barcella.

Athlone Castle and Visitors Centre

Built in 1210, Athlone castle is today a audio-visual museum, and one of the most popular attractions in the town that lies in right in the centre of Ireland.

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Cahir Castle. Image by John5199

Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle is situated on a small, rocky island in the River Suir in County Tipperary – a natural spot for fortified structures since the third century.

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Glenveagh park and castle. Image: Sean Perry.

Glenveagh National Park and Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh National Park is located in one of the wildest parts of the Irish countryside, made up of 24,000 acres, encompassing moorlands, mountains, lakes and forests.

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Aerial view of Ballaghmore Castle. Image: Ballaghmore Castle.

Ballaghmore Castle

Built in 1480 by the MacGiollaphadraig / Fitzpatricks of Borris-in-Ossory, this small but beautiful castle is nestled in picturesque Irish countryside.

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Roscommon Castle. Image by William Doyle.

Roscommon Castle

On the outskirts of Roscommon Town sits this  large and sprawling Norman castle ruin, originally built in 1269.

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Carlow Castle East Wall. Image by Andreas F. Borchert.

Carlow Castle

A large and impressive fragment of this 13th century castle still sits prominently in Carlow town centre, close to the River Barrow.

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Benburb Castle. Image: WalkNI

Benburb Valley Park

Benburb Valley Park is situated on the River Blackwater near the pretty village of Benburb, in County Tyrone, close to the border with on the border between County Armagh. 

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Castlewellan Castle. Image by Ryan McDonald.

Castlewellan Castle and Forest Park

The large granite manor house at Castlewellan, County Down, was built by William Annesley in 1856.

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Swords Castle. Image by William Murphy.

Swords Castle and Park

Located at the end of the main street of the North County Dublin suburb of Swords, this medieval castle was the residence of the archbishops of Dublin. 

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Lynch's Castle, Galway City

Lynch’s Castle

This Town Castle is Galway’s best example of a fortified house, built by the prosperous Lynch family in the 16th century as protection from the raids of the chieftains of the 14 Tribes.

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Ballytarsna Castle. Image: Airbnb

Ballytarsna Castle

In the 1990s, Texan John Carignan purchased Ballytarsna Castle, one of Ireland’s innumerable ruins and lovingly restored it to its former glory using traditional Irish stone masonry techniques.

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Tulleynalley Castle and Gardens, Castlepollard

Tulleynalley Castle and Gardens

The village of Castlepollard is a colorful place, highlighted by the 17th century Gothic Revival Tunnynally Castle.

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Tower Museum. Image: Tim Graffam.

O’Doherty’s Tower and Derry Tower Museum

Located inside the City Walls of Derry, this magical looking structure was first built in 1615 by Paddy O’Doherty to satisfy tax liability owed to the O’Donnell chieftans.

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Lismore Castle. Image by staticgirl

Lismore Castle

On a cliff near the Blackwater river, rises the ancient, charming and impressive Lismore castle, one of Ireland’s finest, and home over the years to many famous dwellers.

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Leighlinbridge Castle. Image: Kman999,

Leighlinbridge Black Castle

The original Black Castle, located in the pretty village of Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, was once one of the finest Norman fortresses in Ireland.

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Image by Seba Sofariu

Lough Key Forest Park and Castle Island

Lough Key is one of Ireland’s most beautiful lakes, which can be reached by boaters on the River Shannon via the Boyle River.

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Ferriter's Castle from across the cove. Image by Sharon Loxton.

Ferriter’s Castle

Now little more than a stump, this ruin of what was once a 15th century fortified tower house is beautiful due to its spectacular location near a cliff edge on the western tip of the Dingle Peninsula.

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Ardgillan Castle and Demesne

Ardgillan Castle and Demesne

Ardgillan Castle is a beautiful, two-storied country house, with castellated features.

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