Ireland is an enchanting land of ancient history, breathtaking scenery, and charming country towns and cities. One of the biggest attractions to the Emerald Isle is the country’s medieval – era castles. Scattered around the countryside, some of these castles are so old all that remains are crumbling brick ruins.
Located on the Iveragh Peninsula in Kerry County, Ballycarbery Castle was built in the mid-15th century by the local noble family the McCarthy’s. Despite only half of the original castle still in intact, you can explore the interior and climb the stairway to the tower, which gives amazing views of the surrounding countryside and the Valentia River. In 1652, Oliver Cromwell’s Protestant Army invaded Ireland and Ballycarbery Castle was severally damaged during a siege.
Rock of Dunamase
When it comes to old castles in Ireland, they just don’t get much older than the Rock of Dunamase. The history of this once-mighty fortress dates back to the 9th century when the Irish government used it as a defense against roving bands of Vikings. The O’Moure family owned the castle from the 12th century until the English invasion of Ireland in 1649. By going through the ruins, you will get a good sense of what life was like way back in the Middle Ages.
You’ll need to take a drive up north to County Antrim to see this medieval wonder, set in the heart of the breathtaking Antrim coastline. Dunluce Castle appeared in the hit TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ as the House of Greyjoy. Richard Óg de Burgh had the castle built in the 13th Century. It served as a stronghold for various noble families, most notably the MacDonnells. In 1639, part of the castle fell into the sea far below. After that, Dunluce was abandoned. Today, the castle is still owned by the MacDonnells but is managed by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
Irish people are known in comical terms for having the gift of blarney. As it turns out, Blarney is a real place in the country, located in County Cork. This imposing castle has been a piece of the local culture since the 10th century. When the original castle was destroyed in the war, Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster, ordered it rebuilt in the 15th century. Like many other castles in Ireland owned by Catholic nobles, Blarney was sacked and seized by Cromwellian forces in the mid-17th century. These days, the Colthurst family owns the ruins.
The ruins of this old castle are to be found in County Kerry. Carrigafoyle Castle was once considered to be one of the strongest forts in Ireland and was referred to as the ‘Guardian of the Shannon,’ due to its proximity to the Shannon River. The O’Connor family controlled the fortress for 400 years. The castle – which is completely accessible to the public – rises to 26.4 meters and has five floors. When you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Shannon River and the verdant, rocky countryside.
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