When thinking about Irish castles, you don´t first conjure up an image of ´enchantment´ like Disney portrays (you know, the fairy-tale kind by way of Bavaria), but you do think ´kissable´, ´mystical´, ´historic´, even ´haunted´.
For a while now, what has also enticed many to Irish castles is ´luxury´ and ´golf´. While there are many interesting castles in Ireland, there are not many that offer the visitor both accommodation and golf. So, I promise, in the next blog post, we will take a look at those that tempt the golfer to both stay within the castle walls and golf in the shadow of them. In the meantime, lets take a look at some famous and interesting castles that are open to visitors, do not provide accommodation but offer a lovely experience (and often other attractions & activities) and even a golf course nearby.
Some of the more captivating and better known castles that are worth seeking out and are a wonderful experience in themselves are, Blarney Castle, Bunratty Castle and the Rock of Cashel. So let´s visit each of these briefly.
Bunratty Castle is located in County Cork, 1.5 hrs. from Shannon Airport and only 20 minutes from the city of Cork. Built by the King of Munster, Dermot McCarthy, in 1446, this is the third castle to reign on this site, and now over 500 years later there is an invitation to all to climb its stony steps, explore dungeon and cave or stroll through its captivating garden grounds.
Many come from far and near to kiss the Blarney Stone (also known as the “Stone of Eloquence”) which is embedded within the walls of this strong and well preserved castle ruin. It is said, that once that kiss is planted on this limestone slab, you´ll never be at a loss for words no matter the situation – or, as the Irish say, you´ll have the ´gift of the gab´.
Bunratty Castle, just a few minutes’ drive from Shannon Airport, is a wonderfully restored 15th century medieval castle. It is bedecked with furniture from the 1400s and 1500s and offers world famous banquets that are replete with period costumes, music, dancing and joviality.
As part of your experience here, there is an inviting folk park where you´ll be swept into a village scene from the 19th century. You´ll get a glimpse of a life in a time long gone in an enjoyable, dare I say, even in an educational hands-on way.
Bunratty Fairy Village
Another wonderful diversion, created for those seeking to have a more original experience and which should prove magical for their younger companions, is the Fairy Village – a place full of imagination and lure.
ROCK OF CASHEL:
View of the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
Heritage Ireland describes the Rock of Cashel (Carraig Phádraig), nestled in the centre of the south of Ireland in County Tipperary, as ¨ A spectacular group of Medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale including the 12th century round tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, 13th century Gothic cathedral, 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral.¨
Combining the physicality of the surviving structures with the fact that it was a site of power (an ancient royal site of the Kings of Munster) that dates back to the 4th and 5th century and knowing that Brian Boru was inaugurated here as King of Munster 978, it is no wonder it is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Ireland.
Deluce Castle, Co. Antrim, NI
Of course there are plenty more castles and manor houses in Ireland just waiting to show off their grandeur to appreciative visitors. The following is a short list of some notables coupled with a nearby golf course:
– Dunluce Castle – 87 Dunluce Rd., Bushmills, Co. Antrim Royal Portrush Golf Club
– Dublin Castle – Dame Street, Dublin 2 Royal Dublin Golf Club
– Parke´s Castle – Kilmore, Fivemilebourne, Co. Leitrim County Sligo Golf Club
– Donegal Castle – Castle Street, Donegal Donegal Golf Club
For more on where to find sites of Ireland´s rich heritage, visit Heritage Ireland.