Castles of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is a beautiful place with some fantastic landmarks, however some of the most historic castles in the country can capture your imagination and offer some breathtaking views, so check out our guide to 5 of the most popular castles in Northern Ireland.

 

Dunluce Castle, County Antrim

Dunluce Castle appears to cling on to its dramatic basalt outcrop location high above the North Atlantic swells that pound the County  Antrim’s Causeway coast. The history of the castle is no less turbulent than the seas below. First mentioned in the 14th century as the seat of De Burgh in the Earldom of Ulster, many bloody battles, sieges and changes of hands took place up until 1745 when it ceased to be the seat of power in the region. The ruined castle featured on the inner gate fold of Led Zepplin’s 1973 album Houses of the Holy and now forms part of the Causeway Coastal Route.

Guided tours are available by appointment and the castle is open year round:

  • April to September: 10am to 6pm;
  • October to March: 10am to 5pm

Gosford Castle, County Armagh

The considerably more modern and intact Gosford castle, located in Gosford country park in County Armagh, is once again home to private residents following the castle’s redevelopment in 2006. Originally completed in the 1850s at a cost equivalent to £45 million in today’s money, the castle is the largest grade A listed building in Northern Ireland. Acquired by the Ministry of Agriculture in the 1950s, it fell into disrepair and was sold for a nominal fee but with the developers picking up the £4 million repair bill. Should you wish to sample life in such grandiose surroundings, some of the apartments within the castle walls are available for hire as self catering accommodation or you could just enjoy the hospitality of  the tea rooms for an hour or two.

The public areas of the castle are open from 10am daily.

Carickfergus Castle

No less dramatic than its County Antrim sibling Dunluce, Carickfergus Castle grips the Belfast shore and dominates the seaward approach. Built in 1177 it withstood sieges from the English the Scots and the Irish themselves before being used, in the eighteenth century as a prison. Attractions at the castle, aside from the stunning views and historic and strategically important building itself include  the armoury and cannons.

Open April to September from 10 am to 6pm and March to October 10am to 5pm

Dungiven Castle, County Londonderry

Located in 22 acres of beautiful gardens with views of the Sperrin mountains, County  Londonderry’s 17th century Dungiven castle is open for business as a 4 star hotel, restaurant and exclusive wedding venue. The venue has a unique musical history. Originally built by the O’Cahan clan of Ulster the folk song Danny Boy was originally penned as O’Cahan’s lement. During its time as a dance hall the venue has played host to Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdink.

For information or to arrange a guided tour visit http://dungivencastle.com/welcome.html

Enniskillen Castle, County Fermanagh

Enniskillen castle’s location on the banks of the river Erne made it one of the most coveted  fortresses in Northern Ireland. Built by the Maguire clan about 600 years ago, it controlled a river crossing that was one of the key access points into Ulster. This importance was reflected by the fact the English assumed control of the castle in the 17th and installed a military barracks there. Now a museum covering topics right up to the modern day,  the castle has a range of family orientated activities and educational visits alike. Events regularly feature the local  arts as well as promoting local food and drink.

Opening times:

  • Year round, 2pm to 5pm, Monday and Saturday, 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Friday
  • July and August the castle is also open 2pm to 5pm on Sunday
  • November to March the Castle is closed on Saturday

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