When it comes to castles, Ireland is king.
From ancient landmarks to five-star hotels, Ireland's castles can be mystical and enchanting. They can be movie sets for blockbusters like King Arthur and Game of Thrones, or they can be found right in the middle of our biggest cities.
Each has its own unique story. Dublin Castle has been at the heart of the capital since Viking times. Malahide Castle, located just north of Dublin City is haunted by a pint-sized ghost named Puck. Tipperary’s Rock of Cashel is where St Patrick is said to have baptised the grandson of a Munster King. In the process, he accidentally stabbed the king in the foot with his crozier... prompting a gush of blood!
More blood (of the fake variety) has been spilled over several locations for HBO’s Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland. The ruins of Shane’s Castle has formed the backdrop to famous scenes, and the 18th century Castle Ward – just a short drive from Belfast – starred as Winterfell. In real life, Castle Ward is surrounded by exotic gardens and walking trails, but you might as well be wandering in Westeros…
Irish castles aren’t just admired from afar, of course. At Blarney Castle in County Cork, kissing a famous stone is said to impart the visitor with the gift of eloquence, locally know as the 'gift of the gab'. At hotels like Ashford Castle in County Mayo, or Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, you can eat and sleep like royalty.