Waterford City – known as Port Láirge in Gaelic – is the oldest city in Ireland. It dates back to the Viking times and celebrated its 1100th anniversary in 2014. The city also boasts beautifully preserved Georgian architecture and medieval avenues, but there are still nods to that Viking history, too.
Travel out of the city and into the county, you’ll find small fishing villages, churches and cathedrals. And of course, there are several important castles too. In this post, we’ll look at three of the most interesting castles in Waterford. Which one will you visit first?
3 castles to visit in Waterford
1. Lismore Castle
The Irish home of the Duke of Devonshire, this extraordinary castle dates back to the 13th century but was almost entirely rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 19th.
It has a rich history: Sir Walter Raleigh once owned it, and some of its guests have included Fred Astaire, Freud, and John F Kennedy. It overlooks the River Blackwater and is the sister castle to Ardfinnan – both are intended to guard the river crossing.
The castle is built on the site of Lismore Abbey, an important monastery dating back to the 7th century. Now, the castle grounds are open to the public, but it remains a private home. You can, however, rent out the castle for up to 27 people. It’s not cheap though!
When: 13th century
Open for Visit: The castle grounds are open to visitors, but the castle is not – unless it is being hired for a special event.
2. Reginald’s Tower
The oldest civic building in Ireland, Reginald’s Tower has continuously been in use for more than 800 years. It stands at the waterfront in the city of Waterford and was initially constructed as part of the city’s medieval urban defence system, although it has been used for a number of different purposes since.
Reginald’s Tower is also the only urban monument in Ireland that still goes by a Norse or Viking name. Visitors to the tower can learn more about the Viking occupation in Waterford.
When: 13th century
Open for Visit: Yes. 09:30 – 17:00 Wednesday to Sunday from January to early March. 09:30 – 17:30 daily from late March to mid-December. Closed from 24th December to 6th January.
3. Waterford Castle
The current Waterford Castle combines the initial 16th-century tower house with a Gothic House built towards the end of the 19th century. It is on Little Island, and you’ll need to make your way across on a ferry. In the 1980s, the castle was developed into a hotel that boasts a golf course and a restaurant that has earned two AA rosettes.
A drink in the bar afterwards offers a selection of Irish whiskeys and fine wines. The four-star hotel has just 19 rooms so offers an intimate stay for anyone who wants to enjoy an evening in one of the most impressive castles in Waterford.
Where: The Island, Ballinakill
When: 16th century
Open for Visit: The castle is a hotel and only open to guests. There is a restaurant and golf course on site.