Take An Enchanting Fairytale Road Trip Around Ireland

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donegal castle

From dramatic castles to stunning places filled with magic to wonderful waterfalls and pretty little towns, we have picked our favourite magical places for you to Take An Enchanting Fairytale Road Trip Around Ireland – these places are guaranteed to bring your child’s imagination to life!

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Our fairy tale spots include a range of amazing castles from ruins to towers to palatial residences, breathtaking magical places that you can imagine in fairytales, awesome waterfalls to admire and the prettiest little towns that you could almost see in a fairy tale book.

Magical Places in Ireland to Visit

The Jealous Wall, Westmeath

belvedere jealous wall

The Jealous Wall at Belvedere was built c. 1760 as a result of a quarrel between Robert Rochfort and another brother George, the owner of nearby Rochfort House (subsequently re-named Tudenham House), now, alas a melancholy ruin. The Wall was built between the two houses as an artificial ruin of an abbey so as to exclude from Robert’s view the sight of his brother’s residence of which he was jealous. It is believed that the Earl went to enormous expense in constructing the ruin, to the extent of hiring the services of a celebrated Italian Architect Barrodotte to superintend its erection.

Enjoy a visit to Belvedere House and Gardens afterwards, they also run events throughout the year including Easter Hunts, outdoor plays, Bat Walks and their famous Green Santa event in the runup to Christmas.

Brigit’s Garden, Galway

brigits garden

Brigit’s Garden takes you on a magical journey into the heart of Celtic heritage and mythology, making it one of the truly outstanding places to visit in the West of Ireland. The award-winning Celtic Gardens are widely regarded as one of the most spectacular in Ireland, set within 11 acres of native woodland & wildflower meadows.

In addition to the Celtic Gardens visitors can enjoy the nature trail, an ancient ring fort (fairy fort), thatched roundhouse and crannog, and the calendar sundial, the largest in Ireland. Brigit’s Garden is very family-friendly with a kids’ discovery trail, a natural playground and lots of opportunity to explore.

Glendalough, Wicklow

glendalough

Glendalough (Gleann dá Loch, meaning ‘Valley of the Two Lakes’) is one of the most picturesque spots in Ireland. With two dark and mysterious lakes tucked into a long, glacial valley fringed by forest.

There’s a 1000-year-old round tower, a ruined cathedral and the tiny church known as St Kevin’s Kitchen. It was founded in the late 6th century by St Kevin, a bishop who established a monastery on the Upper Lake’s southern shore.

Amenities include toilets and disabled toilets, self-guiding trail, outdoor picnic tables, extensive lawns. Paid car parking in operation.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Wicklow with Kids

Dark Hedges, Ballymoney

dark hedges ballymoney

Made famous by being included in a scene in Game of Thrones (when Arya Stark disguised as a boy travels in a cart north on the King’s Road) this striking avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century and was intended to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House.

Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. There’s free parking at Hedges Estate Hotel nearby, with the Dark Hedges a short walk away.

You might also enjoy reading Free things to do in NI with Kids

Giant’s Causeway, Antrim

giants causeway

Follow in the footsteps of giants at the Giants Causeway, flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs. The Grand Causeway is the largest of three rock outcrops which make up the Giant’s Causeway. These collections of curious columns contributed to the causeway being designated Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.

Enjoy the Visitor Centre, then be sure to follow the small path leading towards the sea which takes you to what is perhaps the bay’s most famous feature – the Giant’s Boot.
Apparently lost by Finn as he fled from the wrath of Scottish giant, Benandonner, the boot is reputed to be a size 93.5!

Then stop at the Wishing Chair, a natural throne formed from a perfectly arranged set of columns. Then peek out at Finn McCool’s Camel, the only steed capable of carrying the giant across long distances, now turned to stone. The Camel is actually a basaltic dyke, formed from cooling lava which has pushed its way through other layers of rock.

And for the very active, take the Cliff-top Experience, a fully guided 5-mile hike from the ruins of Dunseverick Castle along the cliffs high above the causeway.

Terra Nova Fairy Garden, Limerick

terra nova fairy garden

Terra Nova Fairy Garden near Kilmallock is a beautifully designed and richly planted, award winning garden set in the Golden Vale of Co. Limerick. Packed to the brim with plants and personality, come and meet the fairies and feel the magic for yourself.

Kilfane Glen, Kilkenny

kilfane glen and waterfallKilfane Glen and Waterfall is romantic garden dating from the 1790s. Untouched for 200 years, it is a picturesque paradise with a waterfall tumbling its way to a rushing stream and woodland paths leading to a cottage orné. Tiny bridges sit among ancient trees, wild foxgloves and ferns.

The garden is open to the public daily from July 1st to August 31st.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Kilkenny with Kids

Giant’s Walk, Mayo

land of giantsFollow the Giant’s Walk around Clare Lake in Claremorris, Co Mayo and you will see a towering yellow door, a red chair that belongs in the world of Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant and an enormous set of keys that can never be lost, dangling from a random tree.

“Clare and Morris live here, but nobody has ever seen them, let us know if you see them”.

The Land of the Giants is a first for Ireland, its handcrafted wood features will guide you around the 4.5 km route. It is family-, buggy-, bike- and wheelchair- friendly and with a total distance of 5km and a flat terrain, it’s a great walk for all.

You might also enjoy reading Fun Family Walks in Mayo

Fairy Forest at Strokestown, Roscommon

strokestown woodland
Image courtesy of Val Robus

Val Robus of Magnumlady.com recommended the Woodland Walk at Strokestown Park, it’s a gentle stroll through the woods to spot a worry tree, a wishing tree and a rag tree. You’ll find evidence of fairies are all around the woodland walk, some of the trees even have faces! It’s the perfect place for children of all ages. Look out for the sculptures created by local schools as part of a creative sculpture competition.

Erica’s Fairy Forest, Cavan

erica's fairy forest

Erica’s Fairy Forest in Cootehill, Co Cavan was created by her parents Natasha and Ciaran to honour Erica’s memory and her unshakable belief in fairies and magical kingdoms. It is also a thank you to the people of Cootehill and surrounding areas whose love and support was never ending throughout Erica’s journey.

You may also enjoy Places to Find Magical Fairy Trails in Ireland

Wonderful Waterfalls in Ireland

Powerscourt Waterfall, Wicklow

powerscourt waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall is Ireland’s highest waterfall at 121m, set in beautiful parklands at the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, where you can find trees up to 200 years old. Look out for the Giant Redwoods, which are native to Northern California where they may grow up to 80m high and live for 4,000 years so they are still youngsters!

The Waterfall is an ideal location for summer picnics and barbecues. There is also a playground for younger children, toilets and ample car parking.

Glencar Waterfall, Co. Leitrim

glencar waterfallGlencar Waterfall is situated near Glencar Lake, 11 kilometres west of Manorhamilton in County Leitrim. It is particularly impressive after rain and can be viewed from a lovely wooded walk with facilities on site including children’s playground, picnic areas, café facilities, tourism information and ample parking.

The waterfall served as an inspiration to the William Butler Yeats and features in his poem The Stolen Child:

‘Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star’

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Leitrim with Kids

Glenevin Waterfall, Co. Donegal

glenevin waterfall

Glenevin Valley near Clonmany in Donegal offers a straightforward walk with picnic areas along the way to see Glenevin Waterfall, which cascades down 30 feet. The basin below the waterfall is called Pohl–an-eas, translates into English as the ‘ferment pool’. There are footbridges and stepping stone to enjoy crossing the stream on the way.

You might also enjoy Free Things to Do With Kids in Donegal

Fairytale Castles in Ireland

Castle Island Lough Key

Autumn at Lough Key

Castle Island in the middle of Lough Key is a most romantic sight. There is reference to Castle Island in the annals of Lough Ce as early as 1184. During this time the park was called Moylurg and the Kings of Moylurg were the McDermotts, their official residence was on The Rock, now called Castle Island. As space was limited on this small island they had another residence on the mainland where the Moylurg Tower stands today.

You’ll enjoy the amenities at Lough Key Forest & Activity Park including woodland walks and trails as well as a Tree Canopy Walk high above the trees, an Adventure Playground, kids jeep Woodland Safari and more.

Birr Castle and Tree House

birr castle birthday parties for kids

Birr Castle, home to the 7th Earl of Rosse, dates back to medieval times. The castle is only open to the public on a limited basis throughout the summer, the one-hour guided Castle Tour takes you through the main reception rooms of Birr Castle. You can then enjoy visiting the Science Centre, the Great Telescope and the extensive gardens after your Castle tour.

The Treehouse Adventure Area at Birr Castle Gardens is open daily and features Ireland’s largest treehouse along with bouncy pillow, sand pits, climbing frames, slides and much more.

King John’s Castle, Limerick

king johns castle

King John was the brother of Richard the Lionheart, associated with legends such as Robin Hood and the Knights’ of the Round Table. Built between 1200 and 1212 on an existing fortification, the Castle was extended many times in subsequent years.

In 1642 the Great Siege devastated Limerick and King John’s Castle. You can view the remains of a medieval garrison and soldiers quarters recently discovered close to the sallyport area of the castle. It has a massive gate house, battlements and corner towers perfect for exploring. The child-friendly interactive visitor experience gives insight into its turbulent history.

You might enjoy A Visit to an Irish Castle: King John’s Castle Limerick

Classiebawn Castle Sligo

Cassiebawn Castle Sligo
Picture courtesy of Val Robus

Although you can’t visit Classiebawn Castle as it’s privately owned, as you travel the coastal route from Sligo to Glencolumbkille, this striking castle appears. It’s a stunning sight, with Benbulbin behind and the ocean to the side of the Castle.

It was a former home of Lord Mountbatten, great-uncle to Prince Charles who was killed when his boat was blown up Provisional Irish Republican Army.

Visit the village of Mullaghmore and enjoy the stunning beach with shallow waters, perfect for kids.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Sligo with Kids

Knockma Hill and Castle Hackett, Galway

Spring walks for families in Ireland castle hackett

Knockma Hill just outside Belclare in Co. Galway is a magical place to spend a day. It is reputed to be one of three possible burial sites for Queen Maeve and was home to Finvarra, King of the Connacht fairies.

The hill is partially covered in woodland and has fairy doors situated throughout. There is an easy walking route to the top which offers a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.  And you can explore the ruins of Castle Hackett too.

Duckett’s Grove, Carlow

Ducketts Grove Carlow

Duckett’s Grove is a ruined 19th-century great house was formerly at the centre of a 20,000 acre estate that dominated the Carlow landscape for over 300 years. Even in ruin, the surviving towers and turrets of Duckett’s Grove Walled Gardens and Pleasure Grounds form a romantic profile making it one of the most photogenic historic buildings in Ireland.

After exploring the two recently restored Walled Gardens you can enjoy a visit to the Tea Rooms.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Carlow with Kids

Blarney Castle, Cork

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions probably due to the fact that it is the home of the Blarney Stone, legend has it if you kiss the stone you will never again be lost for words.

Built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains, Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, who is said to have supplied four thousand men from Munster to supplement the forces of Robert the Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Legend has it that the latter king gave half of the Stone of Scone to McCarthy in gratitude, what is now the Blarney Stone.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Cork with Kids

Trim Castle, Meath

Did you know that Trim Castle in County Meath took more than 30 years to build, back in the 12th century? It’s the largest, best-preserved, and most impressive Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, and it’s a fascinating place to explore. The Castle is also famous as a backdrop to the Oscar-winning film, Braveheart.

It does get busy during summer months so best going earlier in the day. Access for visitors with disabilities is very restricted and some of the stairs in the keep are very steep and narrow, so hold onto smaller kids hands.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Meath with Kids

Merlinpark Castle, Galway

merlinpark castle

Merlinpark Castle is a tower house and National Monument located in Galway, built for Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair (Turlough O’Connor also known as Turlough the Great) one of the last High Kings of Ireland in the early 12th century.

Combine your visit to the Castle with a walk in Merlin Woods and fun at Doughiska Playground.

You might also enjoy reading Best Playgrounds in Galway

Carlingford Castle, Louth

carlingford castle

Carlingford Castle also referred to as King John’s Castle was built in the 12th century overlooking Carlingford Lough. Built by Hugh de Lacy, this dramatic fortress offers stunning views across the Lough towards the Mourne Mountains and it is said that King John of England stayed here for a few days in 1210.

The original Castle consisted of an enclosed D-shaped courtyard with two rectangular towers at the entrance. The eastern part of the Castle was built in 1261 with a number of rooms and a great hall.

There is a viewing area on the shore side of the Castle with lovely views across Carlingford Lough towards the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down and to the Irish Sea. Then head back into Carlingford to enjoy wandering its narrow streets with medieval buildings, for example, Taaffe’s Castle, a 16th-century tower house. There’s also Carlingford Heritage Centre, located in a medieval church, which has displays on local history as well as seasonal events.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Louth with Kids

Clough Oughter Castle, Cavan

clough oughter castle

Clough Oughter Castle dating back to the early part of the 13th century is part of the Marble Arch Geopark, and is situated beside the picturesque Killykeen Forest Park which has accessible nature walks. The castle itself sits on a Crannog (man made island) and so is only accessible by boat or canoe. You can rent canoes from Cavan Canoe Centre, they also offer guided day trips to the castle.

But if you don’t fancy a canoe trip, then you can view the castle from several spots. It eventually became the last remaining stronghold for the rebels during the Cromwell era, but sometime in March of 1653 the castle fell to Cromwell’s cannons. The castle walls were breached and the castle was never rebuilt after this point.

Enjoy a visit to the Marble Arch Caves and Geopark afterwards.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Cavan with Kids

Rock of Cashel, Tipperary

rock of cashel

The Rock of Cashel, Carraig Phádraig or St. Patrick’s Rock, is also known as Cashel of the Kings. It is said to be the site of the conversion of Aenghus the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century AD. Long before the Norman invasion The Rock of Cashel was the seat of the High Kings of Munster.

Two of the most famous people of Irish legend and history are associated with the Rock of Cashel:

  • St. Patrick whom according to legend, arrived in Cashel in AD 432 and baptized King Aengus who became Ireland’s first Christian ruler.
  • Brian Boru, he was crowned High King here in 990. He is the only king who was able to unite all of Ireland under one ruler for any significant period of time.

There is a paid car park below the Rock and there are toilets but no cafe on site. There’s an audio-visual show and exhibitions, and you can take a guided tour too.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Tipperary with Kids

Dunguaire Castle, Galway

dunguaire castle

Dunguaire Castle is a striking castle located on the outskirts of Kinvara. It was built in 1520 by the O’Hynes clan, then by the Martyn’s of Galway before being bought and repaired by Oliver St. John Gogarty, the famous surgeon and literary figure, when it became the venue for meetings of the literary revivalists such as W. B. Yeats, his patron Lady Gregory, George Bernard Shaw, and J.M. Synge.

Today the restored castle gives an insight into the lifestyle of the people who lived from 1520 to modern times. From April to October they run Castle banquets with music and entertainment. Parking is across the road from the Castle.

Donegal Castle

donegal castle

Built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century, beside the River Eske, Donegal Castle has extensive 17th century additions. The fortified castle keep was widely regarded as one of the finest Gaelic castles in Ireland. Before he fled, during the Flight of the Earls, Hugh Roe O’Donnell was forced to set fire to his tower before it fell into English hands.

The Castle has been restored and is furnished throughout with Persian rugs and French tapestries. Information panels chronicle the history of the Castle owners from the O’Donnell chieftains to the Brooke family. There are guided tours taking 30 minutes.

NB Limited access for people with disabilities to the ground floor.

Ashford Castle, Mayo

ashford castle

Ashford Castle in Cong, Co. Mayo on the shores of Lough Corrib has a rich history extending back to 1228 and was once home to the famous Guinness family. It’s now a top 5 star luxury hotel and resort. In its time the castle has played host to many notable guests, including John Lennon, Oscar Wilde, President Ronald Reagan and Robin Williams.

Unless you are planning a stay at this top hotel, you won’t be able to see inside, but you can enjoy exploring the Gardens with a Parterre, a beautiful Walled Garden full of flowers, fruit and vegetables, and the long Terraced Walk and Broad Walk with views across the gardens. And then stop by Mrs Tea’s Boutique and Gift shop for refreshments and a browse.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Mayo with Kids

Doonagore Castle, Clare

doonagore castle

Doonagore Castle is a round 16th-century tower house with a small walled enclosure located about 1 km above the coastal village of Doolin in County Clare, Ireland. Its name may be derived from Dún na Gabhair, meaning “the fort of the rounded hills” or the “fort of the goats”.

It is at present a private holiday home, meaning the public can’t visit, but it’s viewable from the main road and has an interesting history. In September 1588, a ship of the Spanish Armada was wrecked below the castle. 170 survivors were caught by the High Sheriff of Clare, Boetius Clancy, hanged at Doonagore Castle or on a nearby Iron Age barrow near Doolin called Cnocán an Crochaire.

Doolin is a cute little village with pubs and restaurants, famous for live music, there are sometimes early music sessions in the pubs which are perfect for children to listen or even join in. Walk down to Doolin Pier and enjoy the great views of the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands and Galway Bay.

Claregalway Castle, Galway

Claregalway Castle

Claregalway Castle, probably built late fifteenth century is situated on the lowest crossing point of the River Clare before she flows through bogland into the Corrib. While commonly referred to as a castle, technically it is more accurately described as a tower house.

Claregalway Castle is now approaching completion of a ten year restoration and is open to the public daily June to September where with the help of a Castle guide you can walk the corridors of time and follow the history of the Castle from Norman times to its current restoration, experiencing the masterful woodwork of the great hall and the stonework that has stood against time, wars and strife for almost a thousand years.

There are also seasonal events at the Castle including the annual Galway Garden Festival.

You might also enjoy reading Things to do in Galway with Kids

Leamaneh Castle, Clare

Leamaneh Castle

Leamaneh Castle is a ruined castle located between the villages of Corofin and Kilfenora at the border of The Burren. It consists of a 15th-century tower house and a 17th-century mansion built probably by Toirdelbhach Donn MacTadhg Ó Briain, King of Thomond of the O’Brien family, one of the last of the High Kings of Ireland and a direct descendant of Brian Boru. His great-grandson, Conor O’Brien married Máire ní Mahon, otherwise known as Máire Rúa (“Red Mary”), due to her flaming red hair, born in 1615 or 1616.

Unlike many of the castles in Ireland, Leamaneh is unmaintained and due to its poor state of repair not accessible. It is located on privately owned land but you can enjoy views over to the Castle from the nearby road.

Head into Lahinch and enjoy the long sandy beach perfect for sandcastle making and gentle paddling or even a spot of surfing if you are brave.

Rock of Dunamase, Laois

rock of dunamase

The Rock Of Dunamase overlooks the valley of the O’Moores, just outside Portlaoise, County Laois. Spectacular views of the surrounding countryside made this a strategic place to build a fortress. When the Normans arrived in Ireland, Dunamase became one of the most important Anglo-Norman strongholds in Laois.

Despite the castle’s ruined state, visitors can get a sense of its former grandiosity and also have the opportunity to take in stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The Rock of Dunamase is now maintained by the Office of Public Works and is open to the public year round.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Laois with Kids

Ballycarberry Castle, Kerry

ballycarbery castle

Situated near the waters edge at Cahirsiveen, you will find the impressive ruins of Ballycarbery Castle with an ivy-covered tower house, once home to the McCarthy Clan and built in the 15th century. It is probably the largest castle built on the peninsula of Iveragh and is still very impressive from a distance.

Though listed on the County’s historical buildings list, there are no gates or paths into the castle. As with any ruined building, take care near it.

You might also enjoy reading 40 Fun Family Things to do on the Ring of Kerry

Lismore Castle, Waterford

lismore castle

While you can’t visit Lismore Castle itself as it is a private residence, you can visit and enjoy Lismore Castle Gardens, where you’ll find two historic gardens set within the castle walls, with spectacular views of the Castle and surrounding countryside. You’ll find ancient yew tree avenues, romantic meadows, fruit & vegetable beds, formal long borders & plenty of flowers and plants as well as pieces of contemporary sculpture to look at.

Your garden ticket will also give you access to Lismore Castle Arts, a contemporary art gallery, which displays temporary exhibitions of national and international artists.

NB due to the historic nature of the gardens and the naturally steep terrain of the ground, not all paths are suitable for wheelchair, or less mobile people.

You might also enjoy reading Top Ten Things to do in Waterford With Kids

Malahide Castle & Gardens, Co. Dublin

Malahide Castle

Malahide Castle has a long and rich history and played a central role in Medieval Irish history. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century. The estate was home to the Talbot family for almost 800 years between 1185 and 1975, the only exception being the period from 1649–60, when Oliver Cromwell granted it to Miles Corbet after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland; Corbet was hanged following the demise of Cromwell, and the castle was restored to the Talbots. The building was notably enlarged in the reign of Edward IV, and the towers added in 1765.

There’s plenty to do at Malahide Castle:

  • Take a guided tour of the castle
  • Explore the Walled Botanical Gardens
  • See a 400 year old tree at the West Lawn
  • Enjoy shops and cafe at the Courtyard
  • Have fun in the playground and exploring the grounds of the Demesne

Aughnanure Castle, Galway

aughnanure castle

Aughnanure Castle near Oughterard, built by the O’Flahertys around 1500, is set in picturesque surroundings close to the shores of Lough Corrib. In 1546 the O’Flaherty’s motto “Fortune favours the strong” and the powerful Mayo O’Malleys Motto “Powerful by land and by sea”, were joined in the marriage of Donal an Chogaidh O’Flaherty and Grainuaile/Grace O’Malley.

Standing on a rocky island, the castle is a particularly well-preserved example of an Irish tower house. As you visit, you’ll see what is left of the banqueting hall, a watch tower, double bawn, bastions and a dry harbour. There are also seasonal events taking place during holidays at the Castle.

Portumna Castle, Galway

portumna castle

Portumna Castle, on the shores of Lough Derg on the River Shannon, is an imposing example of Irish architecture of the early 17th Century. It was the main seat of the de Burgo family for over 200 years, and marks the transition from the medieval Tower House to the Renaissance style manor house.

Following a fire and the ravages of time, the castle became just a shell, but the Office of Public Works have undertaken conservation and restoration works, with the ground floor open to the public and housing an exhibition on the history and restoration, there’s a virtual reality presentation to help bring the story to life.

The castle is set in formal gardens, there’s also a walled kitchen garden at the side and an old shrub rose garden, all helping to re-create a sense of what it was like in the 17th century. Be sure to visit nearby Portumna Forest Park where you’ll find walks and forest trails and might even spot a deer running through the forest!

You might enjoy reading Coillte Forest Parks for Families

Ardgillan Castle, Dublin

ardgillan castle

Although referred to as a Castle, the residence at Ardgillan is a large country-styled house built in 1738 with castellated embellishments. The house consists of two storeys over a basement which extends out under the lawns on the southern side of the building. The Castle has now been restored and the ground floor rooms and kitchens are open to visitors for guided tours.

As well as castle tours, you can enjoy the parklands in the Demesne, visit the Walled Garden, Rose Garden and Ornamental Gardens, take afternoon tea at the tearooms, find fairies on their fairy trail and enjoy seasonal events.

Nenagh Castle, Tipperary

Nenagh Castle

Built around 1200, Nenagh Castle was the main seat of the Butler family until 1391, before they moved to Kilkenny, partially driven out by the native clan of the O’Kennedys and their allies. It was here, in 1336, that a peace treaty was signed between James Butler, 1st Earl of Ormond, and a representative of the Irish O’Kennedy clan. Some 600 years later the original treaty was presented as a gift to President Kennedy during a state visit to Ireland in 1963, and is now on view in the J.F.K Library in Massachusetts.

Nenagh Castle has a 100-foot high cylinder-shaped keep with four storeys and stone spiral stairs to the top. There are 101 steps in all to the top. Access to the tower is through a passageway within the base of the wall. This has low head room and visitors will need to stoop to avoid hitting the stone above. All children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

The Castle is open for visitors from April to October with some limited winter hours.

Prettiest Towns in Ireland

Kinsale, Cork

kinsale

Originally a medieval fishing port, historic Kinsale (Ceann tSaile – ‘Head of the Sea’) is one of the most colourful and picturesque towns on the south west coast of Ireland. With a beautiful setting by the sea, a long waterfront, harbour full of yachts, narrow winding streets and colourful shops and houses. Nearby you can visit Charles Fort one of the finest surviving examples of a 17th Century star-shaped fort.

Cobh, Cork

cobh

Cobh (formerly Queenstown) is a pretty town situated on the south coast of Ireland in County Cork. Built on a steep hill dominated by St Colman’s Cathedral, it was the departure point for 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950.

On 11 April 1912 Queenstown was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic as she set out across the Atlantic on her ill-fated maiden voyage. You can visit Titanic Experience Cobh, located in the original White Star Line Ticket Office, the departure point for many thousands of White Star Line passengers, where you’ll experience some of the stories of the 123 passengers who departed from Cobh on the ill-fated ship.

Cobh is also known for being the burial place of over 100 victims of The RMS Lusitania, which was sunk by a German U-Boat off the Old Head of Kinsale on May 7, 1915. The survivors were brought to Cobh.

Dalkey, Dublin

dalkey

Dalkey is a pretty seaside town located southeast of Dublin, it has not one but two Norman castles and a 10th century church. Walk to the harbour, take a boat trip to Dalkey Island or if you’re feeling active, take a walk up Killiney Hill with spectacular views overlooking Dublin, the Irish Sea, Bray and Wicklow Mountains.

Adare, Limerick

adare

Renowned as one of Ireland’s prettiest towns, Adare village has a main street with beautiful stone buildings, medieval monasteries, ruins and a picturesque village park. It has a row of cute thatched cottages built originally for workers constructing Adare Manor. These now house gift shops and restaurants.

Adare Castle dates around 1200, you can book tours of the ruined castle at Adare Heritage Centre.

You might also enjoy Ten Fun Things to Do In Limerick With Kids

Over to you now. Have we missed any amazing fairytale spots in Ireland? Tell us in the comments below.

Road Trip Around Ireland