Ireland is a land of mist and myths and along with that it has its share of mighty castles. When you consider the history of Ireland it is no surprise that the conquerors and occupiers of this island had to build these great castles to solidify their foothold. For the casual tourist they are a fascinating piece of Irish history not to be missed.
Since many trips begin in Dublin this is the place to make a first castle visit. Dublin Castle is a bit of a misnomer, it once was a castle built by the Anglo-Normans on the orders of then King John. It was built on top of the Viking defensive walls that date from prior to the year 1000. As often happens, castle are involved in wars and conflicts and as such they must hold supplies. Dublin Castle was no exception; it had a gunpowder tower which as gunpowder is want to do blew up in the late 17th century. The Norman Castle was not salvageable.
What is called Dublin Castle today is a very attractive Georgian building. It can be visited on a tour and is well worth seeing. It is still very much in use today.
In some ways this is both the best and the worst of the Irish castles. This 15th century castle is the most authentic and complete castle in Ireland from the Middle Ages. It is also the place where you can attend one of the Irish Castle Banquets. So on the one hand you have some authentic history and then there is the whole let’s fleece the tourist thing. Obviously some people enjoy this chance to have an “authentic” meal in a castle.
Surrounding the castle is the Folk Park which is a recreated 19th century village where there are many other ways to part you from your hard earned money. It has a certain charm and if you overlook the gross commercialism and the fact that the famine happened in the 19th century it can be a fun way to spend some time especially for families.
Blarney is probably the most famous of the Irish Castle. It is a requirement of almost any trip to Emerald Isle that a visitor kiss the Blarney Stone. Since this requires a great deal of dexterity and no fear of heights it may not be for every guest. Certainly it is not something I felt the need to do. All that remains of the once great castle is one tower but it is enough to attract an amazing amount of tourist each year. It is over 600 years old and for that alone it deserves a visit and while you are there you can enjoy the gardens and the lake.
These are three of the castles that are available to visit in Ireland. There are many more castles to visit in Ireland and some are even hotels where you can stay and enjoy the luxury of being part of history.
I have been an Internet writer for more than 16 years. While I specialize in travel, I write on a variety of subjects. I love genealogy, food, and fashion. I have 10 grandchildren so family travel is something we often do.