The countless Castles of the Emerald Isle
Posted by Ola Kosakowska on the 5th of November 2015 at 10:20:03
No need to be an expert to notice this: Ireland has a lot of castles. Apparently, over 30,000 castles and castle ruins are dotted all over the Irish landscape, in the countryside.
Most castles in Ireland were fortified homes for chieftains, or Anglo Norman settlers and were designed primarily for defence.
Many of these castles are dating from the 11th to the 15th century, but some date from the Georgian era (1714–1837) or the Victorian Age (1837–1901).
Ireland's two most popular castles are Bunratty Castle and Blarney Castle. They have become huge tourist attractions.
- Bunratty Castle, County Clare, dates back to the 14th Century and once belonged to the O'Brien Clan, who were the High Kings of Munster. Today the castle is part of an excellent Folk Park which recreated a 19th Century Irish town.
Blarney Castle, a 15th Century castle in County Cork, is home to the famous Blarney Stone which, according to legend, bestows the gift of eloquence if you manage to kiss it.
My personal favourite site is the Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary. According to local mythology, the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil's Bit, a mountain 20 miles (30 km) north of Cashel when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, resulting in the Rock's landing in Cashel. Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century. The majority of the buildings, which currently make up the site date back to the 12th and 13th Centuries.
Most of Ireland's large castle residences are now lavish castle hotels that have entertained dignitaries from Princes to Presidents. They are perfect for a romantic Getaway!
Dromoland Castle also had a presidential visit from George W. Bush. Situated in County Clare; Dromoland dates back to the 16th Century and is the ancestral home of the O'Brien Clan and Brian Boru the last High King of Ireland.
- Situated in County Mayo, Ashford Castle is a majestic building of Victorian neo gothic architecture, though the castle's history dates back to 1228. The Guinness family also owned Ashford Castle and the castle has hosted the Prince of Wales George V and President Ronald Reagan.
In Ireland, check also the so called “haunted castles” likeBallygally Castle Hotel, Co. Antrim, whichdates back to 1625. The castle is reputed to host a number of ghosts, the most active of which is the former resident, Lady Isobel Shaw, who was locked in her room and starved by her husband because she gave birth to a girl instead of a boy. Broken-hearted Lady Isobel clutched her child and lept to her death… Today, Isobel’s knocking at doors is said to disturb the occasional guest … but to be much less frightening than the wailing of a child heard on other occasions.Madame Nixon is another ghost who lived in the hotel in the 19th century. She can be heard walking around the hotel in her silk dress.
We invite you to know even more about these castles by taking one of our tours: The 8 days "Castles of Ireland" Self Drive Tour.