Have you ever dreamed of experiencing a medieval life filled magic and mystery? The answer to your fantasy may be closer than you think. Ireland’s castles-turned-hotels offer an unforgettable journey into the past.
Why should you visit Ireland?
Ireland offers views of intense green fields and glens. That is why it’s often called the Emerald Isle. But there is so much more to explore here than the rolling green hills. You can visit metropolitan areas such as Dublin or Cork, see museums, fine dining restaurants, and experience vibrant nightlife.
Small picturesque villages dot the countryside and the coast. Here, you can catch a respite from your busy life and delve into the more romantic and carefree world of luxury travel. Exploring Irish castles don’t have to be a museum tour – it can be one of opulence and first-hand experiences.
Here is a list of castles that have caught our eye as adventurous and glamorous – a great way of traveling through Ireland.
1. Ballyhannon Castle, Quin
Ballyhannon Castle is one of the most authentic Celtic medieval castles in Ireland, and all of it is available for rent. Weddings, family or company functions – they can all be experienced in the unique atmosphere of rustic stone walls, low ceilings and an air of romance and mystery. It is almost entirely unchanged since the 1400s.
The castle was bought by American millionaires – a family of oil barons who fell in love with this place in the 1960s. They have renovated it tastefully so you can enjoy a few modern amenities, like electricity and running water!
You can play out your medieval fantasy here and not be bothered by anyone – Ballyhannon castle is secluded and at the end of a private road.
2. Blackwater Castle, Castletownroche
Blackwater Castle, located in Castletownroche is an excellent destination for those who value history and comfort. This castle has the longest running history of most castles in Europe. The original fort was established here over 2,500 years ago.
Unlike the rough and medieval rooms at Ballyhannon Castle, Blackwater offers cozy rooms that include large windows, painted walls and modern interiors in addition to brick and raw stone. The castle architecture includes a rare and well preserved Norman keep.
In addition to extravagant wedding and group accommodations, you can experience quite a bit of adventure here – the castle offers team and family building activities like falconry, laser tag, zip lining, and even bubble football.
3. Luttrellstown Castle Resort, Castleknock
You can stay at Luttrellstown Castle Resort while visiting Dublin – it’s only a short drive outside of the city center. Recently renovated to its former splendor, it is the perfect setting for a picturesque wedding or a special occasion, or just a romantic outing.
If you don’t have time to stay for the weekend, you can come to dine in a fine restaurant setting. Teas here are a must for any tourist who is looking for old world elegant charm. The restaurant offers tea, as well as mother’s day brunch.
If you decide to stay longer, you can try your hand at falconry, horse riding or simply take a nature walk out in the castle grounds. That is if you decide to leave your hotel room – there is something so cozy and inviting about the luxury rooms at Luttrellstown Castle, that you might not want to set foot outside.
Although this castle dates back to before the 1400s, it doesn’t look like castles we have mentioned above. It has more of an elaborate palace feel to it as if it wasn’t built as a fortress but with pleasure in mind. Perhaps because of it’s proximity to Dublin, it has been remodeled to fit the posh tastes of affluent city dwellers and celebrities.
4. Turin Castle, Kilmaine
Turin castle was abandoned for over 200 years, for the sake of a more comfortable and less drafty manor house. This became one of history’s many ironies. Today, the manor house lays in ruin, while the Turin Castle offers luxurious rooms and amenities to her many guests.
Restored in the late 1990s, it can cater to a dozen guests. Perfect for a small family get together, or a team-building getaway. There is something modern and loft-like in the solutions that were brought into this ancient building.
It’s fascinating to think that this old keep was designed with the primary purpose of defense. Even the beautifully designed bathrooms hide ancient murder holes, archery nooks and places used for weapon storage.
Turin Castle is an example of where the often barbaric history of medieval war and politics can meet modern times. You can enjoy fine catering, a roaring fire while taking in the view from the keep. Maybe you can imagine an army advancing through the rolling fields while sipping on a glass of champagne? A great place to remember the past, and be thankful we live in modern times!
5. Ballyportry Castle
Out of all the restored medieval castles, Ballyportry is an example of how things can be done right. Attention has been paid to every detail, including locally sourced linens and wool. Artisans are still working on the hand-crafted furnishings. Everything here is modern but reflects the castle’s rich history and traditional heritage.
Speaking of wool, you better pack your sweaters, scarves, and jackets when you visit Ballyportry. This castle, located in County Clare, was built overlooking a windy plane on a rocky outcrop. Although this means amazing views for miles around, it also means that the castle is exposed to the wind and gales coming off the Atlantic Ocean.
This is a perfect, secluded spot for a peaceful family getaway. It sleeps 8 people and has two bathrooms with running hot water as well as electricity. The original builders never imagined such comforts, and they are yours for the taking.
Ballyportry castle can be your gateway to Ireland, as it sits only 35 minutes away from Shannon Airport. For those who love to Golf, coastal golf links are just a short drive away. There are pubs, historic sites and churches close by, as well as many nature walks and hiking paths.
Castle Tours and Adventures
Touring Irish castles can become the theme of your whole entire visit. You don’t even have to stay at a castle if your budget doesn’t allow for it – there is too many to see. Stop by for a tour, a tea, or a walk and a photo opportunity in the castle grounds. Most locals are very eager to share their history and heritage with visiting strangers, and you can make new friends and engage in conversations wherever you go.
Ireland offers surprising luxury in her ancient walls, and we have named only a few of the historic sites that you can rent and enjoy for yourself. Time to do some exploring!