The temperatures are up and the sun is out (hopefully), which means that it is about time for a family road trip. This year, why not drive through scenic Ireland and visit some of its famous castles?

Facts and History

You are going to have to limit your scope because there are around 30,000 of them throughout the country in various states of repair. Taking into account the population of Ireland, that’s one castle per 160 people.

The story of Irish castles as such starts with the Normans, and when they first arrived in 1169 AD. Among the technologies they brought to Ireland was the building of cut-stone fortified strongholds. The building of these castles started about a generation after the Norman arrival, and was fully in swing from around the 13th century.

Getting Ready

If you are going to hit the road, make sure you have your car maintenance taken care of (or know the best place to rent a car if you are coming in from abroad) and that you have a plan of attack.

Starting with Blarney

The route we are going to talk about today starts in the southeast with probably the most popular castle in the country, Blarney Castle with its famous Blarney Stone. If you are flying in, Cork Airport is the closest to the famed castle, which is about 18 kilometres away.

You can plan a pretty full day at this location so do make the most of it. Along with the castle and stone, there are the surrounding gardens and also Rock Close, which is an area landscaped around many natural features.

From there, you can take the N20 and N72 to Blackwater Castle. If you have the funds, it should be noted that you can stay for the night. And just how often do you get to sleep in an actual castle?

From Blackwater to Cahir

From Blackwater, it is about 43 kilometers to Lismore Castle on the N72. This is another location where you can stay or even plan an event like a family reunion or a business outing. There are a lot of activities in the area from golf to fishing so you can plan accordingly and make a full outing here.

36 kilometers up the R668 will take you to Cahir Castle. The average visit is less than 2 hours and there are no cafes or restaurants. Schedule it correctly and you can hit two castles in the same day. 

Finishing in Kilkenny

After you have seen what Cahir has to offer, head onto the M8 and about 20 minutes later you can be at the Rock of Cashel. This castle offers about the same amount to do as the previous location but you don’t want to overstuff your itinerary, so make this the final stop for the day.

Finally, follow the M8 for an hour to Kilkenny Castle to finish the trip. This is not as big as the first few places but there is more to do than the previous two, making it a great place to end up and unwind a bit at the end of a beautiful trip.

And back home

If you are flying back out, the closest airport here is Waterford Airport, which is 63 kilometers from the city center.

Since the journey kept you in one part of the country, there are plenty of possibilities in different areas for your next Irish trip, such as starting at Trim Castle, which is the largest Norman castle in Ireland, or Killyleagh Castle, which is one of the oldest continuously inhabited castles in the country and creating your agenda from there.

Whatever you choose, it’s certain that you will see some breathtaking sites and make terrific memories.

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