Malahide Castle near Dublin
~ IRISH CASTLES ~
From crumbling ruins hanging dramatically onto the edge of the steep sea cliffs of the Northern Ireland coast, to well preserved 13th-century castles that dot the interior valleys, one thing is for sure - Ireland's medieval castles are a thing to behold and a must for any traveler's itinerary.
Down through the centuries, Ireland's beautiful countryside has proved irresistible to the wealthy and powerful who wanted to leave their mark. Whether they were Norman knights, eccentric aristocrats or gamblers-made-good, their castles still dot the landscape.
There are two primary types of castles in Ireland
the Tower House consists of tall, usually rectangular towers often of four or five stories with either a spiral set of stairs or lengths of straight stairs within the walls giving access to upper floors
the Fortified House is usually longer and more rectangular with more elaborate ground plans and three stories
Here are some of our favorites - most are in well-preserved condition
~ CASTLE HOTELS ~
"luxury at its best"
What's better than visiting a medieval castle when you're touring in Ireland? Staying overnight in one. Below are three of the best castle hotels in Ireland and frankly all of Europe. They're on large estates so there's plenty of room for horse riding, fishing and golfing. Enhance your archery or clay-shooting skills. Go for casual strolls or challenging hikes. Afterwards, relax and be pampered at the in-house spa or enj0y afternoon tea with gorgeous views. Unwind in the private wine cellar with your own tasting and then stay for a delicious wine dinner in the castle's secret passageway.
The ancestral home of the O'Briens of Dromoland whose lineage dates back 1,000 years to Brian Boru, one of the last High Kings of Ireland, the Dromoland Castle has been welcoming guests since the 16th century - a world of historic grandeur underpinned by the finest modern comforts. Stroll the 450 acre estate. Tee off on the world class golf course. Take afternoon tea by a roaring fire. Relax in the intimate spa. Enjoy delicious cuisine.
Your royal adventure begins when you enter through the grand stone gates of this remarkable 800 year old castle. With exquisite interiors, delicious cuisine, a wealth of estate activities and a state-of-the-art spa, this 350 acre estate is the former home of the Guinness family. Breath-taking views of Lake Corrib and beyond. Horse riding, fishing, falconry, shooting, golf, cycling and kayaking are some of the onsite activities.
One of Ireland's finest luxury castles, the authentic and unpretentious Ballynahinch Castle Hotel stands proudly overlooking its famous salmon fishery with a backdrop of the beautiful 12 Bens Mountain range. Awake in the morning to the sound of the river meandering past your window. This is the perfect destination for fishing, clay shooting, horse riding, hiking, cycling or simply relaxing by one of the six open log fires.