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Mary from Gurnee asked

Castles for first time visitor to Ireland!

Planning a trip with my daughters next year to Ireland. We are very adventurous, not afraid to go high end, and would like to see not only part of the country, but an interesting castle. Hope to be there 5 to 7 days. When is the best time of year to visit? Any other secret places or sites would be great! 


3 Answers
top answer by
Maureen from Toronto

Generally the high season to visit Ireland is between last May and late September.  If you're planning on visiting during this time, book your accommodation early, especially if you are staying in a castle as availability is hard to come by.  I don't know which area of Ireland you are visiting, but I will provide you with some suggestions for different areas on castle stays.  If you're visiting the Connemara Loop area, the scenery is breathtaking and a great place to stay is Ballynahinch Castle (4*).  There are lots of trails on the property, you can rent bikes to cycle into the nearby fishing town to experience the local life.  If you are staying in N.  Ireland., there is a small town called Holywood and there is a castle that is turned into a hotel called Culloden Estate & Spa (5*).  It overlooks Belfast Lough & the County Antrim coastline.  You can also try Parknasilla Resort & Spa (4*) which is in Sneem and a close drive to Kenmare which is a great little town with lots of pubs & traditional Irish music.  There are lots of activities in town or if you stay at this property and if you get the chance, do a kayak tour of the harbour to see the seals (go early in the morning), there are lots of them.  The hotel has been extended to accommodate more rooms but it still has the castle feel inside.  You can also try Ashford Castle (5*).  You can rent bikes, get a guided bike tour or you can kayak here.  Make sure you visit Blarney Castle Hotel to kiss the Blarney Stone.  You can't stay here but it's a great little town and a very close drive to Cork. 

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Connemara Loop (attraction)
  2. Holywood (city)
  3. Parknasilla Resort & Spa (hotel)
  4. Ashford Castle (attraction)
  5. Blarney Castle Hotel (hotel)
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answered by
Jason from Arlington (Virginia)

Definitely hit the Rock of Cashel, it was my favorite castle.  It has some interesting history and also some great views.  If you haven't been, check out the Blarney Castle also.  This is more of a tourist trap in my opinion and less of a "authentic castle", but you should check it out just so you can hang out and kiss the Blarney Stone.  The town of Cork is nothing special, I wouldn't recommend it other than for a place to stay if you are stopping at Blarney.  

Although not castles, the Bee Hive huts in Dingle are interesting.  Also there are some forts along the Cliffs of Moher, which was my #1 favorite place to visit in Ireland if the weather is nice.

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rock of Cashel (attraction)
  2. Blarney Castle (attraction)
  3. Dingle (attraction)
  4. Cliffs of Moher (attraction)
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answered by
Betsy from Savusavu

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is a favorite stop if you're in the Limerick area - the castle dates from medieval times. Eat at The Original Durty Nelly's next door. You might want to consider staying at The Old Bank Bed and Breakfastin the little town of Bruff, outside Limerick. Although it's not a converted bank building owned by a lovely family. You'll want to know the connection the town has with JFK's mother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, and her family. As well, you'll want to hear the story of local horseracing champion at Clancy's, a few doors down the street. 

Kilkenny's castle is a nice example of 19th century life, and the tour is good. It's the only castle in Ireland that is owned by "the people." Kilkenny, the town, is absolutely charming.

We had a memorable stay in Dromoland Castle Hotel- try and book a room in the original castle, not the annex. These folks wrote the book on service. The food is magnificent, the setting superb. More (with photos):Dromoland Castle: Sweet Dreams During Our Stay.

Personally not a fan of Blarney Castle and its hype.

In Dublin, we enjoyed Four Seasons Hotel Dublin.

Several additional posts on our blog, PassingThru about Ireland, including one on driving.

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