Welcome to our choices for, and full reviews of, the best family-friendly castle & historic house hotels & rentals in Ireland in 2023!
Irish Castle Hotels - But First, a Little Background for the History Lovers!
The castles of Ireland are famously numerous - it is a country which has seen much conflict and its castles have borne witness to much of it.
Castle building was not a native Irish tradition though defensive hill-forts, a rudimentary precursor to the castle you could say, were numerous in the country before the 12th century Anglo-Norman invasions.
The Normans were technologically superior to the Celtic Irish and their mastery of castle building would become a major factor in their military successes.
Though the native Irish did also adopt castle building themselves in the following centuries the vast majority of old fortress castles in Ireland are of Anglo-Norman origin.
And the vast majority of these were built in the first two hundred years after Strongbow and the Normans first landed.
The Decline of the Castle
These castles all saw plenty of military conflict in their time but soon began to lose their importance for two reasons - the first being that by the 17th century advances in cannon technology lead to them being seen as vulnerable.
The second was that after the Elizabethan and Cromwellian conquests of Ireland the English had almost complete control and so large defensive forts became less necessary.
Most castles were then either converted into aristocratic stately homes/manor houses, replaced by them or deserted and left to fall into ruin.
Most present day Irish castle hotels therefore are actually more examples of Victorian or Georgian Neo-Gothic castle follies, Baronial manor houses and the like. Most will have castle like features but only for aesthetic purposes.
Some will even display a mix of various styles, having been added to and updated over the centuries, and may also include some contemporary structures.
The castle hotels we list in Ireland include medieval defensive castles, Neo-Gothic follies, and Georgian/Victorian era palaces, and they all have lots of individual history to tell.
You can read all about the history of each of them, as well as all the more practical details, on each individual listing page.