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There are approximately 35,000 castles in Ireland, so you will not be short of one or two to explore or even stay in, if you come to Ireland. Some are a legacy of Irish chieftains and several on Clare Island and in Mayo (Rockfleet) belonged to the Irish pirate Queen Granuaile. But it was mainly the Normans who built impressive strongholds such as Trim Castle where the epic movie 'Braveheart' was filmed, we visit Trim Castle on my Guided Tours of Irelands Hidden Gems. Our infamous claim to fame, 2000 bare bottomed extras in kilts recruited from the Irish army! Other castles range from large fortified towers with impressive keeps such as Bunratty to smaller ones like Thoor Ballylee, former home of the poet and playwright Willaim Butler Yeats. Grand country houses like Tullynally and Birr were castle-ated with fairy tale parapets and towers as was the fashion during the reiqn of Queen Victoria.
Many of these castles were built on vast estates, confiscated from the Irish and given to (often) absentee English landlords in return for military duty. As a result, a lot of them were ransacked and burned down during the 'troubles'. Others were saved and restored privately or are now owned and managed by the Office of Public Works or under the auspices of the Irish Georgian Society, so have survived to tell the tale. We even stay in an authentic Irish Castle, Lough Eske in Donegal on my tours. Voted one of the best small hotels in the world, it is certainly very popular with my tour clients who never want to leave, Susan
The 10 Best Castles in Ireland are...