10 Great Irish Castle Stays

Castles are possibly the most romantic place to stay in Ireland. Now, there are 30,000+ Castles in Ireland, most are in a ruinous state. But here are ten survivors that thrived and would put Downton Abbey to shame. In this article you will discover 10 Great Irish Castle Stays. So if you are coming to Ireland, hopefully on a superb Carroll’s Tours Self-Drive, why not stay in one of these?

The ten selected, range from World renowned 5 Star Hotels in their own right to authentic medieval castles offering a different type of stay. So no matter what your budget has, here are the 10 Great Irish Castle Stays we recommend. They are not in any particular order.

Kinnity Castle

Set in Birr County Offay in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, Kinnity Castle is a stunning place to stay. Originally built by the Normans in the 12th century they where ousted by the O’Carroll’s of Ely. The O’Carrolls held it until the 17th century when it passed into the hands of the Bernards. Rebuilt and extended in the 19th Century it was badly damaged in the War of Independance and rebuilt. The Ryan family developed it into a 37 bedroom, 4 star hotel and wedding venue. and So it remains, this beautiful castle set in stunning parkland, complete with its own ghost and delightful restaurant and bars. A great authentic experience and well off the beaten track.

Kilea Castle

Kilkea Castle was in possession of the powerful Lords of Leinster The Fitzgeralds for over 700 years. A castle most associated with Gerald, the 11th Earl of Kildare. Known as the “Wizard Earl”. Gerald’s brother “Silken Thomas” the 10th Earl and his five uncles were executed at Tyburn in 1537. The “Wizard Earl” escaped Ireland, he returned to Kildare after a full restoration to his titles. The Earl had an great interest in alchemy, which caused much local concern. Because of this, he was said to possess magic powers. The Wizard Earl (11th Earl) died in Kilkea in 1585. His Ghost returns to the castle every seventh year mounted on a silver-shod white charger. Fitzgerald family sold the castle in the 1960’s and it is currently owned by the Cashman’s. Kilea Castle, is now a Hotel & Spa Resort of exceptional luxury and standard. Probably one of the most authentic medieval castles in Ireland it epitomises luxury and style. Offering bars, restaurants, whiskey and wine Tastings, horse riding, shooting, archery, falconry. Set in beautiful parkland, Kilkea Castle is located 5 km (3.1 mi) northwest of Castledermot, County Kildare, Ireland near the village of Kilkea.

Clontarf Castle

Clontarf Castle is a much-modernised castle, dating to 1837, in Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland. It is an area famous as the key location of the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

Clontarf Castle is a very popular castle set on the north Dublin coast about 2 miles from the City Centre. It is a mix of very old, old and new and it works beautifully. The setting is stunning and access to the city by car, bus and train is very accessible. A great place to start or end a holiday to Ireland. A wonderful 4 Star Hotel offering the visitor every luxury and comfort you would expect from a Hotel of this class. 

There has been a castle on this site since 1172. The original Castle, was built by Hugh de Lacy.  It passed to the Knights Templars until their dissolution and taken over by the Knights Hospitallers. Castle eventually came into the possession of the Vernons in the 17th century until the late 20th century.

Lough Rynn Castle

Lough Rynn Castle is an elegant 4-star hotel in a secluded setting on the shores of Lough Rynn, Mohill, County Leitrim. Surrounded by 300 acres of magnificent scenery and ancient forests, the castle retains much of its original charm and splendour. An incredible history befitted such a beautiful place. It was for years run by the Clements family who where not exactly loved by the locals. In fact one Lord Leitrim William Sydney Clements was assassinated by locals in 1878. Between twists and reels this great castle passed into the hands of a more benign local family the Hanly’s. These have have made this great place what it is today, a stunning place to stay.  This is one of my favourite Irish Castle Hotels. From the moment you arrive at Lough Rynn Castle, the love, hardwork of the owners is reflected in the warm welcome you receive. I am delighted to include Lough Rynn Castle in our 10 Great Irish Castle Stays.

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel

Ballynahinch Castle is a cosy, secluded 4 star Irish castle hotel set on 350 acres of woodlands, rivers and walks in the heart of Connemara. The castle has a charm and aura which may be best described as ‘Casual Country Elegance’, so why not savor the rich ambience that makes Ballynahinch Castle the jewel in the crown of Connemara and a truly unforgettable castle experience.

The magnificent detached three-storey country house was built in 1754. While the structure has been modified throughout the years the castle still retains its historical integrity. Most famous resident was Richard Martin (Humanity Dick, 1754–1834), founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The Castle and lands where originally ruled by the O’Flaherty Clan, passing to the Martins one of the tribes of Galway City.

Ashford Castle

Well what can you say about this place, I would have to go into the Gaelige Language to find an apt description “Áilleacht Néal” – Stunning Beauty. Seat on a lake a childs image of Camelot or Avalon, this is a special place. 5 Star luxury, countless awards and accolades, all that needs to be said “you get what you pay for” with Ashford. This is for the Honeymoon, a stay to mark a life changing moment a truly special experience. Not for nothing is it regarded as the best Castle Hotel in Europe. Hence its inclusion in our 10 Great Irish Castle Stays.

Set on 350 Acres with its staggering 700 years of tumultuous history. Founded in 1228 by the Aristocratic Norman family de Burgos (Burke). The de Burgos for 350 years held this against all comers. In the 1580’s a tussle for supremacy between the Queen Elizabeth and the de Burgo’s meant the de Burgo’s lost control of Ashford Castle. It eventually passed into the hands of the browne Family who turned it into this fabulous Castle and then the Guinness Family. Visitors to this amazing place can savour the wealthy rich history in magnificent luxury. Inspired by de Burgo Knights fighting Gaelic Irish Warlords the beating heart of this place is the wild West.

Dromoland Castle Hotel

Dromoland Castle is one of Ireland’s best castle hotels. Dromoland offers guests the experience of living like the landed gentry. Here they will enjoy the superb surroundings inhanced by luxury, beauty, and exceptional service. The castle is one of the few Irish estates that can trace its history back to the native Gaelic Irish royalty. Dromoland Castle is the ancient seat of the O’Brien Clan. Conor Myles John O’Brien, is the current Baron Inchiquin, he isthe 18th Baron, living adjacent to Dromoland Castle in nearby Thomond House.
The O’Briens of Dromoland, whose lineage dates back 1,000 years to Brian Boru, one of the last Great Warrior High Kings of Ireland. He famously signed his name “imperator Scotorum (‘emperor of the Irish’)” and was known as the Hammer of the Viking.

Today, Dromoland Castle is a fine 5 Star Castle Hotel mixing old world elegance with modern day style. This castle is easily one of the most desired destinations in Europe. It would comfortably make it into the top 5 Irish Hotels, but we are proud to include it in our 10 Great Irish Castle Stays.

Here enjoy, wine tasting, whiskey tasting, Golf, Genealogy, Horse Riding, Archery, Falconry, Shooting, Music and of course fine dining.

Markree Castle

Markree Castle is a castle located in Collooney, County Sligo, Ireland. Markree was the ancestral seat of the Cooper family, sits by the River Unshin. Today it is a much renovated Castle Hotel which retains so much of its original charm.

Markree Castle is newlt renovated to the highest standards without compromising this beautiful historic. Offering a fabulous luxurious stay, set on beautiful parkland it is offering much more than authentic history. Falconry, Surfing and Stand Up Boarding, Walking trails, and everything else the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer. 

Edweard Cooper was part of Cromwells army which defeat the O’Briens at the battle of Inchcroghan. Conor O’Brien died in this battle, and Edward married his widow Marie Rua (Red Mary) MacMahon. With her two sons they went to live at Dromoland Castle. One son, Donough, was left Dromoland and the other inherited Markree. Charles Cooper, the last of the Cooper family to own Markree Castle, is a direct descendant of this son.

Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede Castle states it will provide elegant accommodation, along with traditional Irish fine dining. Every room here tells a story in a picturesque natural setting. Ballyseede uses only local produce and has a fine reputation for food of the highest quality. Set on 30 acres it is a wonderful getaway and lovely secluded peaceful place to stay. The castle and staff is full of Kerry charm, so warm first class service is a given. Set in North Kerry it is a brilliant base for exploring this wonderful part of Ireland.

Like all Irish castles it has a turbulent history. Ballyseede Castle was originally a garrison castle for the Earl’s of Desmond, the Fitzgerald’s. They refused to swear allegiance to the crown resulting in the Desmond Wars which took place over 300 years.

The Castle passed over to Robert Blennerhassett for the nominal rent of a red rose which had to be presented each year on Midsummer’s Day. The family remained at the castle until 1966 after which time it was transformed into a hotel.
The castle is said to be haunted by a ghost called Hilda. Hilda apears on the 24th March when she makes her presence known.

Castle Leslie

Castle Leslie and Estate, is in County Monaghan, set on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, with ancient woodland and small lakes.One of the last Irish Castle estates still in the hands of its founding family. Since the 1660s the distinguished and somewhat individual Leslie family have lived on the Estate.

Castle Leslie Estate is now a fine 5 Star luxury hotel full of individual charm. Castle Leslie has winderful fine dining using the best of local produce. This intimate cosy castle makes for a relaxing break from your everyday. Activities include, horse riding, walking, fishing and cycling. Equal distance from Belfast and Dublin a great break and a great chance to see Ireland’s hidden charms.

This article 10 Great Irish Castle Stays was authored by Austin Rock who is a part of Carroll’s Tours organisation.

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