Irish places of curiosity, pilgrimage, and inspiration
Irish Castles, misty hills and ancient sites. In Ireland, history is everywhere. But in some places, there is a strong connection with the past. On this page we have listed the sites of historical importance in Ireland that we believe should not be missed.
Image: The colours of Ireland
There are castles everywhere you look in Ireland, Some are ruins, some are restored masterpieces and some you can sleep in. Below, you will find our list of recommended castles to visit.
Cahir Castle - one of the largest castles in Ireland, is sited on an island in the river Suir. It was built from 1142 by Conor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond. Now situated in Cahir town centre, County Tipperary, the castle is well preserved and has guided tour and audiovisual shows in multiple languages.
Kilkenny Castle - stands dramatically on a strategic height that commands a crossing on the River Nore and dominates the 'High Town' of Kilkenny City. Over the eight centuries of its existence, many additions and alterations have been made to the fabric of the building, making Kilkenny Castle today a complex structure of various architectural styles - Visit website
Dublin Castle - Since its foundation in 1204 Dublin Castle has been at the heart of the history and evolution of the city. Today, spanning an area of over 44,000 square meters (11 acres), the site contains 2 museums, 2 cafés, an international conference centre, 2 gardens, Government Buildings and the State Apartments which are the most important state rooms in the country. The grounds of the site are free to explore, as is the Chester Beatty Library and the Revenue Museum. Access to the State Apartments is by guided tour only and tickets may be purchased from the Apartments in the Upper Castle Yard - Visit website
Dunguaire Castle - a 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway, Ireland, near Kinvarra (also spelled Kinvara). The name derives from the Dun of King Guaire, the legendary king of Connacht. The castle's 75-foot (23 m) tower and its defensive wall have been restored, and the grounds are open to tourists during the summer.
Rock of Cashel - also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick's Rock, is a historic site located at Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland - Further information
King John’s Castle - a 13th-century castle located on King's Island in Limerick, Ireland, next to the River Shannon. Although the site dates back to 922 when the Vikings lived on the Island, the castle itself was built on the orders of King John in 1200. One of the best preserved Norman castles in Europe, the walls, towers and fortifications remain today and are visitor attractions. The remains of a Viking settlement were uncovered during archaeological excavations at the site in 1900.
Blarney Castle - Crowds flock to this 15th-century castle to kiss the Blarney Stone - Further information
Ross Castle - a 15th-century tower house and keep on the edge of Lough Leane, in Killarney National Park, County Kerry. It is the ancestral home of the O'Donoghue clan, though it is better known for its association with the Brownes of Killarney who owned the castle until more recently - Further information
Trim Castle - a Norman castle on the south bank of the River Boyne in Trim, County Meath, Ireland. With an area of 30,000 m², it is the largest Norman castle in Ireland. Over a period of 30 years, it was built by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter as the caput of the Lordship of Meath and was briefly returned to its former glory in 1996 as a location for Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.
Donegal Castle - situated in the centre of Donegal Town in County Donegal in Ulster, Ireland. For most of the last two centuries, the majority of the buildings lay in ruins but the castle was almost fully restored in the early 1990s.
Below you will find our list of recommended historic sites in Ireland.
Newgrange - a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, located eight kilometers west of Drogheda on the north side of the River Boyne. It was built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids - Further information
Hill of Tara - located near the River Boyne, is an archaeological complex that runs between Navan and Dunshaughlin in County Meath, Ireland. It contains a number of ancient monuments and, according to tradition, was the seat of the High King of Ireland - Further information
Rock of Cashel - also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick's Rock, is a historic site located at Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland. 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 - Further information
Ceide Fields - an archaeological site on the north County Mayo coast in the west of the Republic of Ireland, about 8 kilometres northwest of Ballycastle. The site is the most extensive Neolithic site in the world and contains the oldest known field systems in the world. Using various dating methods, it was discovered that the creation and development of the Céide Fields goes back some six and a half thousand years (~3500 BCE) - Further information
Clonmacnoise - was founded sometime between 545 and 548 by Ciarán Mac a tSaor, a young man from Rathcroghan, County Roscommon. Until the 9th century it had close associations with the kings of Connacht. The strategic location of the monastery helped it become a major centre of religion, learning, craftsmanship and trade by the 9th century and together with Clonard it was the most famous in Ireland, visited by scholars from all over Europe. From the ninth until the eleventh century it was allied with the kings of Meath. Many of the high kings of Tara and Connacht were buried here - Further information
Skellig Michael - a UNESCO World Heritage List island eight miles off the west coast of County Kerry - Further information