Best Irish Castle tours

Jan 17th, 2004, 08:52 AM
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Best Irish Castle tours

My teenage kids and I will be going on our first trip to Ireland in April. One thing we are all interested in are the old castles. Does anyone have any recommendations for certain ones that are better than others? We would like to be able to tour inside an intact but not necessarily modernized castle. Also might be interested in ruins that were more than just a pile of stones. We'll have 7 days and will be driving from Dublin to Shannon. Thanks!
pinto is offline  
Jan 17th, 2004, 09:13 AM
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It's hard to find too many that are completely intact as Cromwell did make a mess of things some centuries ago. However, many are intact and some, while ruined, are far more than a pile of stones.

My favorite:

Cahir Castle, Cahir, County Tipperary. Not modernized, not in ruins and a lot of fun to explore.

Also, the Rock of Cashel, in the nearby town of Cashel. Part castle, part cathedral. It is in ruins, but not a pile of stones. The walls are intact as are even some of the roofs. Huge amount of history with this one, going back to around the year 500.

Other castles of note: Bunratty, Kilkenny, Malahide, Ross, etc.

Also, you might find some of the ancient monastic sights interesting too, such as Glendalough. I'd suggest picking up a good travel guide on Ireland. I particularly like the DK Eyewitness Guide for Ireland as a primer. It's got a lot of pictures and diagrams so you can see if these places look interesting before you drive all over the country to get there.

Clifton is offline  
Jan 17th, 2004, 09:45 AM
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Thanks for your reply Clifton. I'll take your advice and get a guide with pictures(I have two now without). Cahir Castle sounds like a good one to check on.
pinto is offline  
Jan 17th, 2004, 10:43 AM
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Cahir castle was one of our favorite castles and we enjoyed spending the night in the town of Cahir. I know it's a tourist thing to do and some say "no way" but we got a hoot out of Blarney Castle and kissing the Blarney stone. And close to Shannon we stayed at Dromoland Castle our last day and loved it
cd is offline  
Jan 19th, 2004, 12:10 PM
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I will second or third the vote for Cahir Castle. It is quite well done. Other options would be Bunratty and Dunguaire (both owned by Shannon Heritage), Athenry outside of Galway and Trim, a bit NW of Dublin. There are lots of others also.

When driving along the coast, you will frequently pass old tower houses that are in ruin. The English, in all of their wisdom, establised a roof tax in the 1800s just when lots of Irish were in need of a roof over their head. To avoid the tax, it is said that many an Englishman went out and removed the roofs from their buildings. Oh well...

wojazz3 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2004, 12:55 PM
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Well, it seems that Cahir is no longer the secret it used to be. The word is out and it's no wonder. Cahir is amazing and managed to survive Cromwell by giving up after a few cannon balls were fired their way (a couple are still in the walls if you know where to look). You can not only get a tour but you get to explore on your own from battlements to dungeon - no joke! So be sure to put and keep that one on your list.

Trim -- which may no be open when you are there. It wasn't open last time we were there in mid-April '03. Double check dates and hours.

Dunguaire, in Kinvara - problably open, again check dates & time.

Ross Castle in Kerry - a tour only and really only a tower house but refurbished and interesting.

Bunratty - excellent intact tower house/castle, lots of people around all year.

Kilkenny - no photos allowed due to security but well worth the tour. It was lived in until the 1960s so has been modernized up to a point.

King John's Castle in Limerick - huge castle that you can explore on your own.

Donegal - a favorite but open dates are sketchy at best. My guide book listed them as Open in April '03 but they had reduced hours and were only open on the weekends.

Newgrange and Knowth - while not real castles these are amazing structures that are older than the pyramids and still in excellent condition. Well worth a trip, I think.

Jerpoint Abbey - also not a castle but near Kilkenny and worth exploring and taking the tour for the carved art alone.

Glendalough - in Wicklow, several older stone buildings with a bit of history thrown in. The area itself is worth a visit but the round tower will leave you breathless (can't go in to though #39;( )

I'm sure I could think of a few more given enough time. But these are all a good place to start and you won't have too much time, I'm afraid.

Have a great trip!

waffle18 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2004, 01:24 PM
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Thanks to all who posted responses. Now we have the job of trying to figure out which castles NOT to go to. I wish I had a month to explore but I'm happy to even have a week. Thanks again!
pinto is offline  

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