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See the Castles of Ireland (Some May Be Haunted)
You can’t travel to Ireland without seeing the castles that are dotted across the country. If you take a chauffeur driven or self-guided tour, you’re bound to come across one or more of them. Of course, an escorted “Irish” coach tour usually includes a stop at a medieval castle or two. But stay alert! Some castles may be haunted. Make sure you stay with your group, so you don’t get lost. You don’t want to take a wrong turn and end up in the dungeon. We don’t think so.
Read on to learn about the castles of Ireland. Don’t be surprised if you have images of kings and queens, knights, ladies in waiting, banquets, jousting, and sword fighting in your head.
These are the Best Castles to See in Ireland
Located in southern Ireland, Blarney Castle (dates back to 1446) attracts thousands of visitors each year –some even kiss the Blarney Stone because legend is that it’s supposed to give you the “gift of gab.” To reach the stone, you’ll have to climb 10 flights of stairs. You’ll also have to grip two metal bars and lie backwards over a 10-story drop. Don’t forget to have your picture taken. Once you’re finished, make your way back to the ground and explore the floral gardens.
Dublin Castle is located in Dublin city on Dame Street. Not only does the castle’s site date back to King John (1204), but for over 700 years it was the epicenter for British command until the Free State was established in 1922. It was turned over to the Irish provisional government led by Michael Collins. The 1939 inauguration of Doug Hyde, the first president of Ireland, took place in the castle. Today, it hosts Ireland’s European Presidency every 10 years. Take a tour and you’ll see historic vaults and the famous Chester Beatty Library.
Donegal Castle is located in Donegal town, County Donegal, in northwest Ireland, and sits near the River
Eske. Its unique tower sets it apart from the other castles of Ireland. Donegal Castle was a stronghold of
the O’Donnell clan, Lords of Tír Conaill, in Ireland from the 5th to 16th centuries. Most of the buildings lay in ruins but restoration of the castle was done in the late 1990s. Visit Donegal Castle and you’ll see a 15th-century rectangular keep with a later Jacobean style wing along with stonework from local limestone and some sandstone.
Built between and 1870 and 1873 within Glenveagh National Park and in the Scottish Baronial style, Glenveagh Castle has a gorgeous backdrop of glens, lakes, mountains, and woods with a herd of red deer. In 1981, Henry Plumer McIlhenny of Philadelphia left the gardens and castle to the Irish nation. Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, and Marilyn Monroe vacationed at the castle.
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William Marshal, the first Earl of Pembroke, built Kilkenny Castle in 1195. It’s in the Norman style with circular towers and huge ditch. The castle is privately owned by the Board of Works; however, many rooms are open to the public. To learn the most about Kilkenny Castle, take a guided tour.
No castle would be complete without ghosts. Ross Castle overlooks Lough Sheelin, County Meath and was listed by Lonely Planet as on the “Ten Lesser-Known Haunted Places in the World.” Ross Castle’s ghost story begins in 1536 Richard Nugent, the 12th Lord of Delvin, and his daughter Sabina who fell in love with Orwin, son of an O’Reilly chieftain. To find out the rest of the story, you’ll have to visit the castle.
Located in western Ireland, Ashford Castle is straight out of a fairytale. In fact, it was featured in the film “The Quiet Man.” It’s nearly 800-years-old and once was owned by the Guinness family. However, it was later converted into a 5-star luxury hotel; it has an ornate gold interior and well cared for lawns.
You Must See Ireland’s Castles on Your Tour
Imagine traveling to Ireland and taking an escorted coach tour the country’s castles. Perhaps you’ll visit one or more of them. See yourself and your group stopping at Blarney Castle. You enjoy looking around the floral gardens. But will you have the courage to lean backward and kiss the Blarney Stone? Either way, you’ll have the time of your life on your Irish vacation.
by Amandah T. Blackwell, Savvy-Writer