Limerick, the bustling city in the south of Ireland is a wonderful and vibrant place to visit; it has an array of cultural sites that are just waiting to be explored, including its plethora of historic castles, that are dotted about the vast countryside. Its historic and cultural importance has charmed visitors for years, and it makes for a truly unique destination to visit. This list will highlight the best castles near to Limerick, as well as their key points of interest, location, and opening and closing times.
7 great castles to visit near Limerick
1. King John’s Castle
Originally constructed in the 13th century, and is situated upon the King’s Island, in the Irish city of Limerick; it towers beautifully above the River Shannon and is a very scenic site, that attracts many tourists. Though the existing castle dates back to the 13th century, upon the order of King John in the year 1200, the site actually dates back to the year 922, where the island had been inhabited by the Vikings.
The castle was built during the Middle Ages, and is one of the most impeccable well-preserved Norman Castles in the entirety of Europe; between the years 2011 and 2013, the castle was massively renovated, to restore it back to its former glory.
Where: Limerick, Ireland
When: 13th century
Open for visit: 10:00am – 16:00pm
2. Adare Desmond Castle
Adare Desmond Castle in Limerick is a pinnacle example of medieval architecture, with a strong fortified and stronghold history. The castle is situated on the north bank of the River Maigue, which proved an important and strategic location for the castle’s role in history, as it was able to control river traffic and keep a watchful eye.
Much of the original castle still remains today, for example, the large square keep stands as the defensive centre of the castle, which is enveloped by a walled ward, that has a large moat running around the outside. Today, the castle is a popular site to visit for those that are tourists in the area, as it is architecturally impressive, and also has a long and expansive history.
Where: Limerick, Ireland
When: 13th century
Open for visit: 9:30am – 18:00pm
3. Dromore Castle
Originally constructed in the midst of the 19th-century fascination with bringing the past back to life, and idealising the Gothic and Medieval architectural principles, Dromore Castle in Limerick exudes a magical and enchanting charm, that attracts many visitors annually.
It was designed by E.W. Godwin, who wished to revitalise a time gone by. Today, the castle is available to visit for tourists who wish to explore its architecture and history independently, yet there are also an array of different tours, that can help bring the castle’s heritage to life; however, unlike many castles in Limerick, Dromore Castle is poorly maintained.
Where: Limerick, Ireland
When: 19th century
Style: Neo-Gothic and Neo-Medieval
Open for visit: 10:00am – 16:30pm
4. Knappogue Castle
The original Knappogue Castle was constructed in the year 1467 by Sean Mac Conmara, who was the son of Sioda Mac Conmara; it is a large medieval tower house, that originally served the purpose of a watchtower during the midst of much military conflict.
During the 19th century, like many castles in Europe and Ireland, Knappogue Castle was restored into the style of the Gothic and Medieval era, after being acquired by Theobald Fitzwalter Butler, 14th Baron Dunboyne, in the year 1855; they spent a large amount of time renovating and restoring the castle, whilst also adding several additions to it, such as the drawing-room, the long room, and a west wing.
Where: County Clare, Ireland
Open for visit: 9:00am – 17:00pm
5. Bunratty Castle
Situated in the scenic village of Bunratty in Ireland’s County Clare, lies the beautiful Bunratty Castle, which is an enormous tower house, that was originally constructed during the 15th century.
The castle that exists today was built in approximately the year 1425 by the MacNamara family, who were a powerful family in the county; throughout the Middle Ages, the castle was expanded, rebuilt, and renovated on a number of different occasions, each time bringing with it new architectural additions and features, as well as differing interiors.
However, in the 19th century, the castle fell into disrepair after it was abandoned by the Studdert family, and it was not restored until the year 1956 after it was purchased by the 7th Viscount Gort.
Where: Bunratty, Ireland
When: 15th century
Open for visit: 10:00am – 18:00pm
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6. Askeaton Castle
Originally built in the year 1199 by William de Burgo, is the stunning Askeaton Castle, which lies on a tiny island that is located on the beautiful and scenic River Deel. In the year 1580, in the midst of the Desmond Rebellion, the walls of the castle were blown apart, after it was announced that the Carrigafoyle Castle, which is located nearby, had fallen.
Later, in the year 1652, the castle was entirely dismantled as a stronghold after it was invaded and besieged by Cromwellian forces. Today, all that remains of Askeaton Castle is ruins, that give visitors an idea of what it once looked like, during its prime. There are also some key highlights that remain today, including the 15th century Banqueting hall, and the remains of a wall that dates back to the 13th century.
Where: Askeaton, Ireland
Open for visit: 10:00am – 15:30pm
7. Cahir Castle
Cahir Castle is one of the largest castles in the entirety of Ireland, and it is located in Tipperary, which is near to Cahir. It is situated idyllically on the on an island in the middle of the river Suir and is very picturesque, which attracts many visitors.
The castle was originally constructed by Conor O’Brien, Prince of Thomond, in approximately the year 1142, and served as both a residence for the family, as well as being a stronghold with the purpose of defence. At the end of the 20th century, Cahir Castle was granted the status of being a National Monument and is now maintained and managed by the Office of Public Works.
Where: Cahir, Ireland
When: 12th century
Open for visit: 10:00am – 17:00pm
8. Dunguaire Castle
Situated upon the shores of Galway Bay in the scenic County Galway in Ireland, lies the beautiful Dunguaire Castle; it was originally constructed during the 16th century for Hynes Clan, though there is little information around today that can confirm specific details of its history.
The castle is very popular with tourists during the summer, as it is enveloped by some of Ireland’s most breath-taking natural scenery, with its dramatic cliffs and gorgeous waters that it towers above. The castle houses a 75-foot tower house, as well as defensive walls, which are still in-tact.
Where: Galway Bay, Ireland
When: 16th century
Open for visit: 10:00am – 16:00pm during the summer.