Three Best Castles in Ireland? Tough to answer!
If you're flying roundtrip Dublin and only have 6 nights you might want to try to stay in the same geographic region. With the new roads in Ireland, you can get from Dublin to Galway in 2 hours which will open an additional variety of choices. Driving from one place to another once you are off the highways can be very time consuming. A 30 mile drive can easily take 2 hours in some regions of Ireland but note that you'll be meandering around darling towns and villages and past waterfalls and other naturally exquisite landscapes and seascapes.
So if we assume you don't mind the distances between them, probably the top 3 castles, noted for their size, architecture and wow-factor are Ashford Castle in Cong, County Mayo where the film,"The Quiet Man," was filmed, Adare Manor in County Limerick and Dromoland Castle in County Clare. Cong is about a 2 hour drive (depending on whether or not you wind up behind a tractor or meet sheep crossing the road more than once) from Galway Town. Adare Manor is about 30 minutes from Limerick City and Dromoland is a short drive from Bunratty Castle and Heritage Park. It's a very do-able itinerary but it would be better to fly into Shannon Airport than into Dublin because these 3 castle or in Ireland's western regions.
If you wanted to stay in the Dublin area and stay in castles, three castles you might want to try are Clontarf Castle, which is about 10 minutes by taxi from the heart of Dublin City, Fitzpatrick Castle in Killiney, the Beverly Hills of Dublin County and a 20 minute train trip on the DART into Dublin, and you might want to take an hour to 90 minute drive to County Monaghan and stay at Castle Leslie, the castle where Paul McCartney married his second wife. If there's no room in the castle itself, they have boutique well-appointed rooms in the Equestrian Lodge on the castle grounds and if you like riding you'll love their facilities and trails.
If time is not a factor, you might want to check out 3 of my favorite castle hotels: Solis Lough Eske Castle in Donegal, Lough Rynn Castle, the former home of the Earl of Leitrim in Mohill, County Leitrim which is just east of Donegal, and Kilronan Castle in Ballyfarnon, County Roscommon. Those 3 castles are in close proximity (Lough Rynn and Kilronan are about 15 miles apart) in the north western part of the Republic of Ireland and each is very special. Lough Eske castle and Kilronan were each basically a partial exterior shell of the facade and were completely restored and created into luxury castle accommodations. You would never know it when you enter because they were restored in the most authentic way and you have the feeling that the Duke of Someplace moved out of there yesterday to make room for you! When you sit in the great room at Lough Rynn you will appreciate the lifestyle of the Earl of Leitrim because that room is exactly as it was when he lived there not all that long ago! Splurge at Lough Rynn for the suite with the bathroom big enough to land a helicopter in that has a huge round hot tub in the center. And don't be fooled by the mirror in the bedroom over the fireplace mantle. It only looks like a mirror until you hit the buttons the remote control and the TV comes on!
If you spend your first night and last nights in Dublin to get over jetlag your first day and to be in place for your flight home on your last night you could stay at Clontarf one night and Fitzpatrick Castle the last night and have a glorious castle stay throughout.
I'd love to hear about your trip and experiences. Clearly, there are so many castles in Ireland that you can't even scratch the surface in a week. You'll just have to start planning your return trip!
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