Home to a myriad of myths and legends, Ireland is a country filled with magical tales of ancient royalty, brave knights, and treacherous battles. The castles in Dublin, Ireland, allow you to discover the most incredible stories and sights that the country has to offer.
If you’re visiting Dublin, be sure to pay a visit to at least a few of these spectacular jewels of architecture to gain a glimpse into Ireland’s incredible history.
Most Famous Castle In Dublin
This is the only castle in the city of Dublin directly, residing on an ancient Viking fortress on Dame Street. It dates back to the 1200s and for centuries housed the British power in the country before Ireland’s independence. Throughout its time, notable figures have visited it including Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens and even John F. Kennedy.
Since 1922, it has been used by the Irish Government to host events such as the inauguration of the President. It is also a major tourist attraction for those visiting Dublin, and you can take a tour around it. This castle in Dublin has impressive features such as the Throne Room, St. Patrick’s Hall, and the gothic Chapel Royal along with inspiring art, history, and photography exhibitions.
Having been ranked tenth on the list of the most popular palaces around the world, Dublin Castle is a necessity if you find yourself in the capital!
Historic Castles In Dublin
Dalkey Castle And Heritage Centre
Just 30 minutes south of Dublin, you’ll find yourself transported back in time by the Living History actors of Dalkey Castle bringing the medieval times back to you.
This is one of the rare castles in Dublin where you can see and interact with archers, barber surgeons, and cooks as part of an entertaining guided tour. Every tour includes a film, a presentation by a guide, and then daily life talks by three charismatic actors who’ll both educate you and make you laugh.
For those of you who are interested in the literature of the town of Dalkey, there is a Writers’ Gallery featuring the work of James Joyce, Bono, and Samuel Beckett, and also a guided literary walk around the town.
For an incredible view of the sea and mountains surrounding Dalkey Castle, take the adventurous climb up the battlements. Plus, The Heritage Centre offers beautiful views of the battlements and of the Early Christian Church and Graveyard.
For a more in-depth historical experience, you can pay for a Magical Heritage Evening which includes private dining in a medieval townhouse with knowledgeable guides and costumed actors who’ll bring old stories to life right before your eyes.
Howth Castle is a castle near Dublin wrought with its very own myths and legends such as The Abduction of the Heir by Grace O’Malley and The Berisford Ghost. It was built in 1177 by Almeric, the first Lord of Howth. The castle has since been well looked after and is a magnificent architectural wonder in the Irish countryside.
It features portraits by famous artists such as Watts, Lavery, and Hudson, the Great Sword of Howth, and a gorgeous rhododendron garden.
Public tours are given in the months of August and September, but private tours are offered all year round when you book on the website. You will gain some interesting facts about Dublin and the castle.
Intriguing and historical, this castle near Dublin offers something for all the family. It dates back to Elizabethan times but was reconstructed in the eighteenth century by two of the best architects of the time – Sir William Chambers and James ‘Athenian’ Stuart.
There are many interesting stories associated with this castle. In the 1500s, Rathfarnham Castle housed the wealthy Loftus family but became a Jesuit seminary in 1913. Plus, the ballroom is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman whose two lovers failed to save her.
Tours are offered either with a guide or on your own, the castle hosts many intriguing art exhibitions and there is even a playground for children. To finish off your day, visit The Stuart and Chambers Tearooms.
Cú Chulainn’s Castle
The historic remains of this castle near Dublin look exactly like the tower out of the magical fairytale Rapunzel! Not only that, it has its own fair amount of folklore associated with it too.
It was built by Patrick Byrne, a famous pirate, in 1780 and is thought to be where the legendary warrior, Cú Chulainn was born. You can get a glimpse of a standing stone in his memory in the field to the right of the entrance to the castle.
It’s just a one-hour drive from Dublin and is a wonderful sight to see – especially if you go at sunset!
The remains of this ancient castle are being enchantingly reclaimed by nature. It was founded in the 13th century and in its time, was one of the wealthiest and largest estates in Ireland. From 1487 to 1513, the Great Earl of Kildare actually governed Ireland in the name of the king. It’s therefore a prominent historical feature of Irish politics and culture but still somehow missed out on by visitors.
You can visit this grand stone castle near Dublin and get to see a popular exhibition presenting its history, take a tour, or simply bring your picnic blanket and enjoy the sweeping, elegant grounds.
Beautiful Castles In Dublin
Swords Castle is a hidden gem located 10km east of the center of Dublin on the Ward River. It’s often missed out on by visitors, so is much quieter than many of the more popular castles, making it the perfect retreat for a quiet day out.
Its origins are thought to date as far back as the 1200s when it was residence to the Archbishops of Dublin up until the fourteenth century. It then fell into disrepair. During the rebellion of 1641, it was used by Catholic families as a place to hold meetings.
This castle in Dublin is currently undergoing long-term restoration to encourage tourists to go and see it but already has many features worthy of a visit. These include the grand chapel, the Constables Tower, and the gatehouse where excavations in 2014 uncovered graves of 17 men, women, and children.
The nearby town of Swords also offers a selection of restaurants, and Malahide Castle and Newbridge House and Gardens are also within reach.
Ardgillan Castle and Demesne
Overlooking the Irish Sea and with glorious views of the Mourne Mountains, Ardgillan Castle is sure to impress. This castle in Dublin is a sight to see. Featuring a romantic rose garden, 194 acres of grasslands, woodlands, and gardens, the surrounding grounds act as a sanctuary for many wild animals.
For your entertainment, the Demesne offers a wide range of activities including castle tours, theatre performances, afternoon tea, and children’s parties.
Trim Castle is quite a popular castle near Dublin to visit. It was built by Hugh de Lacy in the 1100s and is an incredible fortress depicting Norman history. It’s one of the largest castles in Ireland which you can explore via modern walkways across the inside of it to truly appreciate its grand scale.
Royal figures such as King John and King Richard II both visited this castle, and it was one of the locations for the setting of the film Braveheart.
Just a 50-minute drive from Dublin, and located in the beautiful medieval town of Trim, this castle makes for both an enjoyable and historical day out.
Medieval Castles In Dublin
Situated on the north coast of Dublin, this medieval fortress carries a history of 800 years with it. It housed the diplomatic Talbot family from the 1100s right up until the late 1900s. It is now owned by the Irish State and hosts many important international events and summits.
Take a guided tour to learn all about the Talbot family’s story plus the time the castle was taken over by Cromwellian soldiers in the 1600s. Explore 260 acres of gorgeous grounds, enjoy the Talbot Botanical Walled Garden which features 5,000 species of plants, and visit the beautiful Butterfly House.
For the young at heart, take the Magical Fairy Trail through the entrancing woodlands on the West Lawn which provides a delightful adventure including pretty sculptures and fairy houses. This is certainly one of the more magical castles in Dublin.
Drimnagh Castle has Ireland’s only remaining flooded moat, fed by the Bluebell Stream, and is located in south Dublin. Originally built by the Normans, this castle in Dublin offers many points of historical interest. These include a Battlement tower, parterre gardens, and a ‘Murder Hole’ which was used by those defending the castle from attackers.
It has been the setting for many films including ‘Excalibur’. Take a tour and uncover what it was like to live in medieval times, exploring secret passageways and stories of those from the past.
Nearby is also the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) and the Royal Hospital Kilmainham’s gardens. Finish off your active day with Farmhouse Café which sells fresh produce from the local farm, fresh bread, and homely pots of tea!
Other Famous Castles In Dublin
All that remains of this castle in Dublin is a sole tower but it’s definitely worth the visit if you’re a fan of Irish history. It was constructed in 1601 by Alderman Patrick Browne. During a rebellion in 1642, defenders of the castle were defeated by the confederate army leading the castle to fall into English power which led to its demise.
Today, it’s surrounded by a modern housing complex, an interesting contrast to the ancient history that the castle carries.
Bulloch Castle dates back to around 1250 so really is an ancient site. It was built by Cistercian monks to protect the harbor for fishermen. Unfortunately, it’s now in ruins but its glory remains apparent. Situated by the harbor it used to defend, the castle offers lovely walks and breathtaking views of the loch.
Slane Castle has had some of the most famous music artists in the world perform here – from Bon Jovi to Eminem. It is situated in the Boyne Valley and has been home to the Conyngham family since they built it in the late 18th century, after fighting in the Battle of the Boyne.
Lord Henry Mountcharles, 8th Marquess Conyngham, still lives here, keeping the castle’s heritage alive for all to enjoy. Along with frequent music events, the castle offers wonderful tours along with the opportunity to visit its whiskey distillery complete with a taste-testing session.
For the romantics, this castle near Dublin has a lovely story about how Lord Henry’s great-great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth, inspired King George IV (who had fallen in love with her) to straighten the road between Dublin and Slane in order to reach her faster.
Take a 55-minute drive from Dublin to Slane to bask in the gloriousness of music, history, and romance!
Bellingham Castle is a hotel that is available for event hosting in County Louth. It was built in 1160 by Sir Henry Bellingham and housed the Bellingham family long until the 1950s. It was burnt down by King James II in 1689 as an act of revenge against Colonel Thomas Bellingham but rebuilt soon after.
It offers the perfect royal experience for those of you wishing the spend the night in a castle, with an elegant 17th-century style, grandiose drawing rooms, a library, suites, and gardens.
It’s located in the village of Castelbellingham and being only a 55-minute drive from Dublin, is within easy reach of the capital.
Discovering The Best Dublin Castles
There are multiple castles in Dublin, Ireland, with one perfectly suited to everyone! Whether you want a day out in nature, like learning about the history of the people of Ireland, or simply enjoy artistic exhibitions by Ireland’s most talented people… Dublin’s castles offer it all!