As we enter this season of St. Patrick, I have a hard time keeping my wanderlust in check. Ireland is the NUMBER ONE destination on my travel bucket list for many reasons:
- Researching my ancestry
- All of the rich history
- That sexy Irish brogue
- So. Many. Castles.
Because I could research and write about visiting Ireland for days, I decided to focus this post on castles. Because, why not?!? I’ve done all of the research to help make your trip easier. And, for those like myself who can’t go any time soon, at least we can live vicariously through these gorgeous photographs!
There are literally hundreds of castles throughout Ireland – just check out the map below. So, I am going to focus on the eastern region, between County Dublin and County Cork. I’ve picked 5 castles to highlight for this post. Since there are so many that my brain may explode with excitement, definitely look for a follow-up post with even more castles in the future!
Constructed primarily in the 12th century, Malahide Castle sits in the northern part of County Dublin. You can explore both the inside and outside of this fairy tale castle. Take a stroll through the village and surrounding garden to get a feel for all of the history that this gem has to offer.
Arguably one of the most well known, this castle is the namesake of the city for which it sits at the center. Construction on Kilkenny Castle started in 1195 and it opened in 1213. You can buy a ticket to tour the castle or opt to just explore the surrounding grounds. As soon as you enter the gates, you’ll experience a meticulously maintained park-like atmosphere that includes a fountain and rose garden.
Not far down the road from Kilkenny Castle, you’ll find Carraig Phadraig (The Rock of Cashel) in County Tipperary. Construction began in 1100, but most of the current buildings date from the 12th and 13th centuries. This beautiful castle complex is quite large, conjuring images of what you would expect when you think of grand castles of the past.
I couldn’t write a post about Ireland without including County Waterford, my husband’s ancestral grounds. This castle site was originally constructed in the 7th century as Lismore Abbey. The first castle-like structure, a castellum, was built in 1185. Much of the current structure was rebuilt in the mid-nineteenth century and is the Irish home of the Duke of Devonshire. This castle is available for exclusive hire, which means that you can book a stay in this exquisite estate and live like royalty… at least for a day or two!
You’ll find this iconic castle in the heart of County Cork. Constructed starting in 1446, Blarney Castle is best known for the tradition of kissing the infamous Blarney Stone. Personally, I’m a germaphobe AND afraid of heights, so this is one adventure I will never complete. But, for those who are interested, the stone is said to grant eloquence to those that grace it with their lips. Blarney Castle itself has not been restored, but the grounds offer many beautiful sites to explore including stables, ponds, huge trees, and their poison garden.
I will leave you with this gem – 2 minutes of Colin Farrell and his sexy Irish brogue. Hubba, hubba.