It comes as no surprise to anyone that Ireland is one of the best places in Europe to explore some Celtic art and medieval architecture. Both of which you can witness by visiting numerous historical grounds like castle ruins and used-to-be fortresses. Well, of course, you can also tour your usual museums, but walking around a castle left in shambles is much more fun!
In reality, though, we are here to recommend you the best ruin sites in Ireland, and a couple of ones beyond that, but close enough for your one-trip exploration. So, let’s get it!
The Rock of Cashel, Ireland
Is it really surprising that it stands as number one? No, we did not think so, either. The Rock of Cashel is one of the most prominent and significant heritage sites in Ireland, perfect for history buffs and story-chasers.
The fortress used to be the seat of the Kings of Munster several years prior to the Norman invasion. After living in its royal episode, the castle was donated to the Church in the 12th century, which is quite ironic, knowing that most legends surrounding the Rock of Cashel and its existence come from a personal conflict between St. Patrick, Satan, and Satan’s banishment.
While the Devil is nowhere to be seen around the remains, you can still enjoy the architecture, Celtic detailing and settings, and some other remarkable collections.
The Rock of Cashel: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2017/03/06/15/45/ireland-2121813_1280.jpg
Stirling Castle, Scotland
If you find yourself exploring Edinburgh, make sure to go a little out of the way and reach the Stirling Castle. This one is for everyone.
Arguably, even more important than the great Edinburgh Castle, Stirling is the one that holds everything in Scotland’s history together. The history, architecture, defense structure, collections, art, royal families – all of these are understandable temptations that lead you to a long tour across the remains of Stirling Castle.
Well, we use the word remains quite liberally here. The fortress is in much better shape than, let’s say, the Rock of Cashel, and is almost perfectly preserved, yet it still falls under the same category.
Roam around the grounds to find out more about Scottish Kings and Queens that have been crowned here, Mary’s, Queen of Scots life in Stirling, and the numerous attempts to siege the castle, all of which left us with what we see today.
Stirling Castle: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2013/10/28/23/32/sterling-castle-202103_1280.jpg
Ludlow Castle, England
While you are still touring the region, make sure to board the Edinburgh to London train, then take some local transportation to Shropshire and see one of the greatest castle ruins in England.
Overlooking the River Teme in Mid Wales, Ludlow Castle is best known for its variety of residents and owners, all adding their own features and tossing the fortress around like an expensive toy. While that sounds a bit harsh, the castle’s history is actually very interesting.
We highly suggest booking a guide instead of self-exploring; there is too much exciting info to miss out on. Learn about its time as the seat of the Council, about Edward IV seizing the throne, the Royalist occupation during the English Civil War, and many other twists and turns that will blow your mind!
Castle Roche, Ireland
Let’s get back to Ireland, shall we? If you are on your let’s see all the castle ruins in the country trip, make sure to get a pass and use Ireland trains for every journey. They are quick and comfortable, and you will save a ton of money. Now, onto Castle Roche.
The site with a beautiful name is the same one of daunting stories and horrific legends. It was built in the 13th century by the de Verdun family, which kickstarted all the legendary stories and darkness that followed Castle Roche.
The main character of these stories is the owner’s granddaughter, Rohesia. Because of her, actually, the family had ties to Ireland, as she was married to an Irish nobleman. Unfortunately, he died quite shortly after the wedding, and led by her own grief and devastation, Rohesia went off the rails, murdering people in the castle and seeking revenge. At least, that is how the story goes!
Blarney Castle, Ireland
Lastly, let’s visit a much more well-known name. There are plenty of stories about Blarney in history books, but if you have not heard anything, it might be time to brush up on your knowledge!
The medieval stronghold is located in Blarney, near Cork, and is probably the main reason so many tourists visit this side of Ireland.
Quite similar to Ludlow Castle in England, Blarney was also the setting for many events, occurrences, sieges, wars, coronations, and others. Its history is very diverse and very interesting, so, for this one, we also suggest getting a guide.
Just make sure you make your way to the famous Blarney Stone. The legend goes that if you kiss it (quite unsanitary, right?), you will be gifted with great eloquence or skill of flattery. While kissing is optional, we still suggest taking a picture or simply looking around. The stone has been in Blarney for centuries, and some people firmly believe in its powers.
Blarney Castle: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2020/02/22/15/55/no-people-4870916_1280.jpg
Castles are a great way to learn more about the county, city, or country you are visiting. And if it is in shambles, there are probably some great stories to be heard and some unique sites to see. So, fill up your itinerary and get ready for a grand European adventure!