If you plan on traveling to Ireland, castles are a major part of the country’s landscape. Whether they’re roadside ruins, highly preserved landmarks, or hotels where you can kick back and relax, while you’re visiting the country of shamrocks, catch a castle!
On my trip to Ireland, I saw a number of castles, some better preserved than others. But no matter what state the royal stones were in, there was a real magic to knowing how old these places were! Much of Ireland’s castles were constructed between the late 1100s-1500s. It’s powerful to set foot on the grounds of something that ancient and imagine what life was like back then. Not to mention it’s amazing so many are still in existence centuries later! My Game of Thrones thirst at these castles was real.
While in Ireland, my favorite castle toured was the Kilkenny Castle. Kilkenny, located just a short train ride from Dublin, is a medieval town full of historic architecture. Among its ancient buildings sits its crown, the Kilkenny Castle. I arrived at the castle near closing time and was given a major discount on admission but it meant I had to high-tail it through the massive structure fast! The staff were vacuuming for the end of the day close behind me…
First built for William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke in the 13th century, Kilkenny Castle became the home of the prominent Butler family for over 600 years after Marshal’s death. There are several rooms open to the public, as well as the castle’s ornate courtyard and grounds. The most eye-catching room of all, however, is the Picture Gallery Wing, where the paintings of various Butler family members now reside. The room has wooden floors, a marble fireplace, and a painted timber ceiling. It’s pretty magnificent and where I spent the longest part of my quick tour.
After exiting, I ran around the grounds imagining how crazy it is that someone once called this their backyard. The outside of the castle is a must for those Insta photo opps!
Planning your own Irish getaway? Get a full list of castles to see throughout the country here!