Nestled amidst the swooping hills of the tranquil Irish parish of Quin in County Clare, Knappogue Castle is a fantastic historic castle that has, in recent years, been restored and renovated into a tourist attraction.
It has an extensive and fascinating history, and visitors can even stay the night at the castle, or take part in exciting and unique banquet shows, which provide a truly authentic experience of Medieval Ireland. Here is a guide of everything you need to know when visiting the wonderful Knappogue Castle:
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How to Get to Knappogue Castle
The nearest airport to Knappogue Castle is Shannon Airport, which is situated around 19 miles away, and there are several ways in which you can get travel between the two.
The first option is by bus; you would need to take Line 345 from the airport to the castle, but this is not recommended, as it takes around two and a half hours in total, and is not a very direct route.
Another option is to drive or get a taxi; you can either hire a car at the airport or jump in one of the many official city cabs, both of which take approximately 25 minutes in total. If you opt for a taxi, it will cost you anywhere between 30 to 35 Euro, but this is not a fixed price, so it may fluctuate.
History of Knappogue Castle
The history of Knappogue Castle dates way back to the year 1467, where it was built by Sean Mac Conmara; ‘Knappogue Castle’ actually translates as ‘castle of the place abounding in little hills’.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Castle was the center of several key battles and conflicts, such as the Irish Rebellion of 1641, and the Irish Confederate Wars of the 1640s. It was also confiscated after the Cromwellian Conquest of Ireland, in the mid-17th century, in accordance with the new Adventurers’ Act. However, it was eventually returned to its original owners in 1660, the MacNamara’s; it was heavily restored and extended at the end of the 18th century.
In 1855, the castle was acquired by the 14th Baron Dunboyne, Theobold Fitzwalter Butler, and it became the official seat of the family. During this time, a huge number of alterations were made, such as the adding of a drawing-room, long room, and an entire west wing.
A key reason why Knappogue Castle is well known is that during the War of Independence, between 1919 and 1921, Clare County Council actually held many of their meetings there.
Since 1996, after it was purchased by Shannon Development, Knappogue Castle has been used primarily as a venue for weddings, tours, and the famous medieval banquets. There are also some fantastic gardens to explore, that have been lovingly restored to their former, and glorious state.
Knappogue Castle Banquet Show
One of the key reasons that Knappogue Castle is as popular as it is today, is for its fantastic Medieval Banquets. Once you arrive at the castle, you are greeted at the main door, by the Earl’s Butler, as well as the Ladies of the castle; you are then led through to the Dalcassian Hall, where you are able to mingle with the entertainers of the castle, and perhaps even enjoy a goblet of honey wine, known as mead, which was a traditional medieval beverage.
Throughout the evening, traditional medieval instruments will play out, include the harp and the fiddle, which are later followed by Medieval choral singing from the Ladies.
Another highlight of the Banquet Shows at Knappogue Castle, is when the Earl’s Butler recounts the history of the Castle and explains the ‘Rules of Chivalry’ that are must be abided by; he also notes the horrendous consequences if one decides to breach the rules.
Every banquet begins at 18:30 pm sharp, and it is advised that you arrive at least 15 minutes beforehand. You will be served some delicious medieval-style cuisine, such as Smoked Irish Salmon with Cucumber and Dill Salad, or a Tomato & Basil Soup to start.
For mains, you will be served either Chicken in a Veronique Sauce, served with creamed potatoes and roasted root vegetables, or a Tomato and Buffalo mozzarella tartlet if you are a vegetarian. For dessert, guests will be given ‘Rastin’ Apple & Cinnamon Crunch, which is absolutely delicious.
There is nowhere that does banquet shows quite like Knappogue Castle, and it is truly an authentic and unique experience; regardless of whether you are a history enthusiast or not, it is a great evening out, as well as being educational.
Stay in the Knappogue Castle
To go one step further than just the Medieval Banquet, you can actually stay the night at Knappogue Castle and truly feel like a Lord or Lady.
With each room boasting original antique furniture and paintings and offering unbeatable views of the delightful Rose Garden, visitors can truly feel as though they have stepped back in time when staying the night at Knappogue Castle.
There are also lots to see and do nearby, such as Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Quin Abbey, or even Craggaunowen the Living Past Experience, making it the perfect spot for a weekend romantic getaway to the countryside.