Ireland conjures up images of castles, emerald hills, stunning landscapes, beautiful wild coasts, fascinating legends, a vibrant pub scene, and a world-famous dance and music culture. With these, it is easy to see why Ireland is a country that you will easily fall in love with.
Geographically, Ireland is an island located in the North Atlantic. It is the second-largest island in the British Isles and is the third-largest in Europe. With 6.6 million inhabitants, it is also ranked the second-most populous island in Europe.
Ireland’s scenery is one of the main reasons why tourists visit the country. Beautifully shaped by natural and human forces, the landscapes of Ireland are incomparable. This ancient land has plenty to offer: from the wild coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean, to the rolling hills and lush landscapes of the magical Midlands, to the Karst region world-renowned for its limestone formations, underground watercourses, and caves. All these landscapes and sceneries are steeped in history, legends, myths, and lores, dating back to time of the Celts and the ancient times.
The first recorded inhabitants of Ireland date back to 8000 BC. The Celts came to Ireland around 1200 BC. Their arrival had a huge impact on the country’s culture and heritage that lasts even today. The Vikings came around 785 AD and established their dominance until their fall in 1014. In the 12th century, the Normans arrived, which marked Ireland’s 800-year struggle with England.
When the Normans arrived, they started building fortresses to protect their claim. These forerunner stone castles were known as motte and baileys. Over the course of four centuries, castles were continually built throughout Ireland. In County Wexford alone, 235 stone castles were built.
Today, 345 castles remain in Ireland. In addition to the surviving castles from the Norman period, there are castles built by minor lords who were vying for regional dominance. These castles were built by powerful, influential, and rich families. Some of these were the O’Donnell clan who built the Donegal Castle in the 1400s, copying the Anglo-Norman castle design.
While many of these castles are now in ruins, others have been refurbished and converted into hotels and tourist attractions. With these developments, you can now stay in an Ireland castle.
The oldest inhabited castle in Ireland is Kilbrittain Castle. This castle was built in 1035 and is located in County Cork. The most popular among tourists, however, is the Blarney Castle. This castle is consistently on the top among the best places to visit in Ireland. Other popular tourist castles include Bunratty Castle, Cahir Castle, Ashford Castle, and Kilkenny Castle.
Castle accommodation in Ireland is one of the main attractions in the country. Among the most popular castle hotels in Ireland is Dromoland Castle. The family palace of the O’Briens, this castle lets you experience five-star luxury in a historic setting. Other popular castle hotels in Ireland include Lough Eske Castle, Ballynahinch Castle, Adare Manor Hotel, and Kilronan Castle Estate. Explore these magical castle hotels among the many natural and man-made riches and wonders of Ireland.