Ireland has a turbulent past. The green island in the Atlantic was conquered and dominated by Celts, Vikings, Normans and Anglo-Saxons over centuries.
Numerous castles and fortresses still bear witness to this eventful time. If you take a motorcycle tour across the Irish island, you will see them everywhere - the number of castles on this island is unbelievable!
Many of the castles of the 18th and 19th centuries are hotels today - you can find these in our other blog article on castle hotels. This article is more about castles you can visit on your motorcycle trip.
Below I have listed 35 of the most beautiful castles that you can visit on your motorcycle trip through Ireland and Northern Ireland:
35 of the most beautiful Castles in Ireland and Northern Ireland:
1. Antrim Castle Gardens in Northern Ireland
2. Aughnanure Castle near Galway on the west coast of Ireland
3. Belfast Castle in Northern Ireland
4. Blarney Castle near Cork in Southern Ireland
5. Birr castle in the middle of ireland
6. Bunratty Castle, near Limerick on the west coast
7. Cahir castle in southern ireland north of cork
8. Carrickfergus Castle in Northern Ireland
9. Castle Ward with Winterfell in Northern Ireland
10. Clifden Castle on the west coast, west of Galway
11. Crom Castle in Northern Ireland
12. Doe Castle in northwest Ireland
13. Donegal Castle in northwest Ireland
14. Doonagore Castle and the west coast, south of Galway
15. Dublin Castle, in Dublin on the east coast
16. Dunguaire Castle, on the west coast, south of Galway
17. Dunluce Castle, in Northern Ireland
18. Enniscorthy Castle in southeast Ireland
19. Enniskillen Castle in Northern Ireland
20. Glenveagh Castle in northwest Ireland
21. Grace O'Malley`s Tower in Northwest-Ireland
22. huntington castle in southeast ireland
23. Johnstown Castle in southeast-Ireland
24. Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland
25. Kilkenny castle in southeast ireland
26. King john`s castle in limerick and the west coast
27. Lismore Castle in South-Ireland east of Cork
28. leap castle in the middle of ireland
29. Malahide Castle in Dublin on the east coast
30. Parkes Castle in northwest Ireland
31. rock of Cashel in southeast-Ireland
32. Ross Castle in southwest coast
33. Slane Castle in northeast Ireland
34. Trim castle in northeast ireland
35. Tullynally Castle in the center of Ireland
In the early Middle Ages, it was often just a tall, massive, square tower. They served as protection for the many clans on the island from the frequent raids of their neighbors. There were many clans and each had at least one of these Towerhouses. Therefore, everywhere in Ireland you can see square towers in the landscape, or derelict remainders of them.
In the High and Late Middle Ages, castles became larger, more defiant and more sophisticated with multiple rings of walls and many buildings and towers. The Normans left some particularly imposing examples of this. These castles also had mainly a protective function and were the seat of the throne and military base of the respective dominion.
With the end of the Middle Ages, fortresses lost their importance, and the high nobility placed a much higher value on comfort and representation, which was simply not possible in the drafty narrow thick walls of the old castles. And so, from the 16th to the 19th century, many magnificent castles were built all over Ireland, but especially in the wider eastern region around Dublin.
A castle in Ireland can be anything from a tower on a cliff, to a defiant castle, to a magnificent palace.
If you are interested in the Middle Ages and castles, Ireland will be like paradise for you. If you like, you can put together a whole long motorcycle tour from castle to castle:
On the map below you will find all the castles mentioned marked. You see, they are really sprinkeled over the whole island. To make it easier for you to find your way around, I have added the respective regions to the castle names. So you know where to find them.
If you want to plan a tour, you can choose a direction and then check out the respective castles in that region in Google Search and Google Maps. There you will find all listed castles without any problems. So you can for example do a Northern Ireland tour with a good part of the Wild Atlantic Way and combine that with some castles of your choice. The castles for this example are then described in the list above with the regions Northern Ireland and Northwest Ireland.
When you have found the castles of your choice, you can put together a tour. This is also very easy with the route function in Google Maps.
For example, you can do a Northern Ireland tour with a good part of the Wild Atlantic Way and combine that with some castles of your choice. Or you can do a Southern Ireland tour with Wild Atlantic Way and some nice castles.
In Ireland you can expect to do about 200-250 kilometers of distance per day by motorbike. If you plan a lot of sightseeing, it will be rather 180-200km per day. This may not seem like much, but in addition to the left-hand traffic, that you may not be used to, there are many narrow and bumpy country roads, so your travel speed will be rather low. Take it easy and plan enough time for your sightseeing, else your tour can quickly become stressful.
And when you rent a motorcycle from us for your just created tour, you will always get a Tomtom Rider motorcycle GPS, so that you can find and drive to all your selected castles and places to stay without any problems.
If you have already visited the beautiful wild Atlantic coast and wonder what else you can do in Ireland by motorcycle, then a castle tour off the west coast is recommended.
You will see a lot the inland, which is also interesting, ride comfortably through the countryside and visit 2-3 castles every day.
Sounds good? Then you will find below a suggestion for a comfortable castle week tour in Ireland and Northern Ireland:
Start and finish is the rental station of easycruiser.tours near Tinahely and Hacketstown.
The castles on this tour are:
1. Huntington Castle near Bunclody
2. Enniscorthy Castle in Enniscorthy
3. Johnstown Castle near Wexford
4. Kilkenny Castle in Kilkenny
5. Leap castle not far from Roscrea
6. Birr Castle in Birr
7. Tullynally Castle north of Mullingar
8. Crom-castle, south of Enniskillen
9. Enniskillen Castle in Enniskillen
10. Antrim Castle in Antrim
11. Belfast Castle near Belfast
12. Hillborough Castle at Hillborough
13. Slane Castel near Slane
14. Trim Castle near Trim
15. Dublin castle in Dublin City
16. Malahide Castle near Dublin Airport
The total distance is about 900km. If you plan plenty of time for sightseeing, and instead of highways (M) and big national roads (N) rather choose the small and more beautiful country roads (R and L), you can expect about 150-200 km per day. This makes for a 6-day tour with visits to about 2-3 castles per day.
The two castles in Dublin, Dublin Castle in the city and Malahide Castle near the airport, can be visited with an additional day of sightseeing and a last overnight stay in Dublin before your flight home, making this a one-week vacation trip.
All of these castles are easy to find on Google Maps and at intervals of about 150-200km daily stages, you can also pick out suitable places to stay on the route.
I personally like to book overnight stays with www.booking.com, which I also have as an app on my smartphone, but of course you can also choose another booking platform.
Our rental motorcycles are all equipped with a Tomtom Rider navigation device and so you will have no problems finding and driving to your castles and overnight stops.
And then I wish you a lot of fun in planning your personal castle tour on the Irish island!
Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg, March 2022
Photo credit: easycruiser.tours
Sources: Google 2022, Google Maps 2022, Wikipedia 2022, various websites of the castles mentioned.