One of the things I was most excited about doing in my semester abroad in Dublin was taking in as much Irish/European history as I could. There is just such a magic in the subject here that delves so much farther back than anything the US has to offer. In particular, one of the key features I wanted to explore at length while here was castles.
The homes of royalty, those humongous stone structures that tower in to the sky and can be seen for miles around. It was a personal goal of mine was to see as many castles as I possibly could this semester. Lucky for me, this was a goal shared by my roommates. We’ve been in Ireland for just about a month and I’ve already seen three castles.
Trim Castle was the first castle we went to. On a whim, my roommates and I decided to plan a trip to the town of Trim. A short bus ride from Dublin get’s you to the small town, which sits right on the River Boyne. The stop is right in view of the castle gate, the keep towering up out of the center.
It was just three euros with a student ID to buy your way in through the castle gates and included a tour of the keep. However, when we arrived a tour had just left so we had about an hour to explore the grounds on our own.
There were wonderful things to see all over. The castle is the largest remaining Norman-built castle in the country and is unique in that the keep made up of four separate wings that come together to form the shape of a cross.
Unfortunately, it was left to neglect for some time before the Irish government got a hold of it, so it’s classified now as a “preserved ruin.”
Around the grounds, there were the remains of the great hall, the gate tower, and inside we saw the empty walls of many of the castles rooms, all finishing off at the top of the keep, overlooking all of Trim. Here’s a handful of my best pictures:
Our second trip was to the town of Kilkenny. Just an hour and a half by train, their castle is a magnificent monument, beautifully restored, a museum filled with amazing artifacts. Plus the building sits at the foot of a massive, 52-acre park. Kilkenny Castle remained owned and lived in right up to the twentieth century, so it has also been updated and modernized in a way many of the other castles in Ireland haven’t.
Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside of the castle, however here are the pictures I took from the outside:
The most recent castle I’ve been able to visit was Dunluce in Busmills, County Antrim, during our school trip to Northern Ireland Another preserved ruin; Dunluce sits on a small peninsula, jutting out into the sea.
Unfortunately, years of decay have swept most of the castle into the water. However, what remains is a beautiful sight surrounded by a breathtaking landscape.
As time goes on I hope to add more and more castles to the list. Next on the roster will also be the first one off the island of Ireland. At the end of this month, we are taking a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, where we will be visiting the castle there! There are plenty of castles to see in and around Ireland and I’m going to see as many as I can in the coming months.
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