Castles in Dublin
If you’re in Ireland to go sightseeing or to explore wonderful ancient castles there’s no better place to start than in the Greater Dublin Area, home to some of the most stunning castles in Western Europe…
Dublin is well-known for the historic Dublin Castle, located right in the heart of the City (Visit Dublin Castle at night-time on the DoDublin Ghostbus Tour), and the big medieval 12th Century Castle in Malahide which you could explore on a brilliant half day bus tour to the North Side of Dublin.
Discover more about the Dublin Castles you know, and the Dublin Castles you don’t with the DoDublin Guide to the Castles of Dublin…
The only castle in Dublin which still has a working moat, Drimnagh Castle was originally built (between 1169 and 1216 A.D.) in the era after the Norman invasion of Ireland occurred. The moat is fed by a stream from the small local river, the Bluebell. Drimnagh Castle has been renovated over the years and now visitors can experience the beautiful building and gardens. The castle has been used to film popular shows and films over the years most famously the T.V. show, ‘The Tudors’ about English King Henry VIII. Tours run from Monday to Friday.
Originally built in the late 1100’s elsewhere in Howth, Howth Castle has stood at its present location for over 700 years and for over 300 years held the title, Lord of Howth. The Castle is still lived in by the descendants of the Lords of Howth, the Gaisford St. Lawrence family.
A fascinating story about the castle is of the day the pirate queen Gráinne O'Malley (Gráinne Mhaol) came to visit the 8th Baron of Howth in the 1500’s. The family was having dinner at the time and thus the gates were locked. Grainne didn’t take this slight lightly so she abducted the grandson and heir, the 10th Baron. After a while, he was released but on two conditions that the family had to keep the gates open to unexpected guests, and to set an extra place set aside at every meal. The agreement is still adhered to by the family to this day.
Guided tours are available to the public on certain days of the year, the castle grounds also house The National Transport Museum of Ireland.
Now a beautiful hotel, Clontarf Castle is one of the most easily accessible Castles just outside of the city. Dating back to 1172, the castle was originally used and inhabited by the Knights Templar – a wealthy and powerful catholic military order who are well known for participating in the Crusades to reclaim the Holy Land in the name of Christianity. The castle is located close to a site which was a key location in the famous battle of 1014, the big battle featured the forces of Viking King of Dublin, Sigtrygg Silkbeard against the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru! If you’re looking for an overnight castle experience close to the capital, Clontarf Castle is the perfect choice.
Ashtown Castle & Phoenix Park Visitor Centre
Ashtown Castle is located right in the heart of the Phoenix Park. It is a great place for families to visit as the castle plays host to numerous workshops and exhibitions for children throughout the year, especially over the summer months! The castle was hidden within the walls of a much bigger Georgian Era house which served as the Under Secretary's Lodge for many years. Dry rot had set in and the lodge was due to be destroyed as it was irreparable. Prior to being demolished however, the castle was discovered and from there it was incorporated with the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre.
Swords Castle was built to serve as the residence of the first Anglo-Norman Archbishop of Dublin, John Comyn during the 13th Century. It served as the residence for Archbishops for just over a hundred years before being vacated by Archbishop Alexander de Bicknor. The Castle fell into gradual disrepair over the course of the next few hundred years and was put to a variety of uses, such as being a residence for retired archbishops, a residence for constables and as a rendezvous point for the Anglo-Irish Catholic families of The Pale who intended to join the Irish Rebellion which began in 1641. It was eventually acquired by the Office of Public Works (OPW) in the 1930’s who oversaw restorative works over the years. The OPW along with Fingal County Council maintain the grounds and castle to this day.
Located in the middle of a thriving Dublin suburb, Swords Castle is a great place to go for a picnic and to have a wander afterwards.
Dalkey is located to the South of Dublin’s City Centre along beautiful coastline and features a stunning beach backdrop. The castle was formerly used to hold all goods and imports brought into the city via the sea, Dalkey served as one of the main ports for Dublin. The castle has an interesting defence system which includes a machicolation, this was used to drop burning objects or boiling liquids down onto the drawbridge where enemies or thieves would enter. There is also a ‘murder hole’ to veer out of and battlements where defenders of the castle would be on patrol. The Castle has costumed actors who interact with the public as part of the guided tour.
Explore the Greater Dublin Area and all its magnificent castles with the DoDublin Card which includes 72 hours of transport on the Dublin Bus public transport network, the DoDublin Hop on Hop off City Tour and the Airlink Airport Express (to and from Dublin Airport).