Best Castles near Galway

Galway, the charming Irish city that is a thriving artistic and cultural hub, offering bold and colourful traditional pubs and a constant stream of live bands playing; dotted about the city’s outskirts also lie some of the best castles in the entirety of Ireland, that makes for the perfect day trip.

This list will highlight the best castles near Galway and their key points of interest:

The 10 Best Castles to Visit Near Galway

1. Dunguaire Castle

Situated scenically on the south-east shore of Galway Bay, which is just a stone’s throw away from the city centre, lies the impressive and historic 16th-century tower house, Dunguaire Castle.

The castle originally served a military purpose, hence its enormous 75-foot tower and additional defensive wall, both of which have been restored.

The castle has a fascinating history, as well as a string of legends attached to it, including the ‘Road of the Dishes’, which centres on St. Colman of Kilmacduagh and King Guaire.

Where: Galway Bay
When: 16th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, for more information check here.

2. Aughnanure Castle

Located in the small Irish town of Oughterard lies the beautiful Aughnanure Castle. This castle was originally constructed in the 16th century, by the prominent O’Flaherty family, who was a famous lord family in the region.

The castle remained in the hands of the O’Flaherty family until the year 1572, where it was sieged by the President of Connaught, Sir Edward Fitton; the castle changed hands on several occasions throughout the centuries, before later being reclaimed by the O’Flaherty family.

Today, the castle is managed by the Office of Public Works and is open as a tourist attraction and national monument.

Where: Oughterard
When: 16th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, for more information check here.

3. Martello Tower

Overlooking the stunning Cashla Bay lies the incredibly well-preserved and historic Martello Tower. The history of such towers follows that of the British Ordnance, whereby towers were constructed at key coastal sites, to prevent invasions of Ireland from the French Napoleon army.

This particular Martello Tower was incredibly modern for its time, with features such as a 24-pound cannon. The Martello Tower in Cashla Bay is open to the general public, many of which visit as a day trip from Galway, to experience another side to the region’s heritage, as well as to witness the breath-taking views.

Where: Cashla Bay
When: 16th century
Style: Military
Open for visit: Always accessible.

4. Newtown Castle

Newtown Castle – Newtown Castle is a stunning and unique 16th-century tower house that is located in the scenic County Clare village of Ballyvaughan; it is most striking and notable for its cylindrical shape and square, pyramid-shaped base.

The history of the castle dates back to the 16th century, in around the year 1550, as a residence for the O’Brien clan; however, the castle was then later passed over to the O’Lochlainn family.

In recent times, the castle has been restored to its former glory, as it fell into disrepair during the 18th century, and it is today open to the public on weekdays only.

Where: Ballyvaughan
When: 16th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, for more information check here.

5. Ashford Castle

Located on the brink of the Mayo-Galway lies the gorgeous Ashford Castle. The history of this castle dates back to the year 1228, where an early castle was built by the Anglo-Norman House of Burke; the castle then fell into the hands of several different owners over the centuries, and each time it was transferred, new additions were added, depending on the contemporary style and needs of that particular era.

The castle was purchased in 1852 by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness; at this point, the castle underwent an enormous renovation, where two grand Victorian extensions were added; the castle, therefore, has a truly unique façade, that combines medieval and Victorian features.

Where: Cong
When: 13th century
Style: Medieval and Victorian
Open for visit: The castle is not open to the public; it is a luxury hotel. For more information check here.

Find here, more castles to stay in Ireland.

6. Kinlough Castle

Situated in the town of Kinlough in County Mayo, lies the gorgeous and historical Kinlough Castle; in actuality, Kinlough Castle is a tower house.

It is believed to have been built in approximately the 13th century, though many of the defining features were added at the end of the 16th century by Sir John MacOliver Burke, including the two additional storeys.

The castle that stands today was predominately built in the 16th century, and it has changed hands on several different occasions, between influential and noble families and tenants. Today, the castle is open to the public, and it makes for a great day trip from Galway.

Where: Kinlough
When: 13th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes

7. Leamaneh Castle

Leanmaneh Castle is a fantastic castle that is situated in the town of Leanmaneh North, in County Clare.

The origins of the castle date back to the late 15th century, and it is believed to have been constructed by the O’Brien family; the castle was later renovated into a manor house, and it merged its function as a military centre with its residential qualities.

The castle fell into ruin during the 18th century, and it has not been renovated since then; it exists on privately owned land, in a farming region of the area, and due to its poor-quality state, it is unfortunately not open to the public.

Where: Leanmaneh North
When: 15th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Not open to the public

8. Doonagore Castle

Doonagore Castle is an impressive 16th-century tower house that is situated in the village of Doolin in County Clare; it is perched scenically on the coastal cliffs of the area and offers astonishing views.

The castle originally dates back to the 14th century, though the structure that stands today dates back to the middle of the 16th century. The castle then went through centuries worth of activity and importance, but sadly fell into disrepair in the 19th century; it was later restored in the 1970s by Percy Leclerc.

Where: Doolin
When: 14th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Private home. Not open to the public.

9. Ballinalacken Castle

Situated in the County Clare region of Ireland, in the Killilagh Parish, lies the gorgeous Ballinlacken Castle; this castle is believed to have been built in either the 15th century, or the end of the 16th century, and it presents a traditional medieval façade and structure.

Though the castle is in a ruined state today, it is still well-preserved for its age, and is open to the general public, offering a fascinating insight into the past, and also offering stunning, unbeatable views.

Where: Killilagh Parish
When: 15th/16th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes.

10. Knappogue Castle

Originally constructed in the year 1467, the stunning Knappogue Castle is an impressive tower house that is located in the parish of Quin, in County Clare, Ireland.

It was built by Sean Mac Conmara and is a prime example of traditional late Medieval period architecture, and many of its original features are still in great condition.

The castle today is open to the general public, though its primary function is that of a venue for events like weddings and medieval banquets.

Where: Quin
When: 15th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, for more information check here.

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