We’re lucky here in Ireland to have some amazing and beautiful castles right on our doorstep. So why not bring the kids to explore and discover a castle? With the right weather, a picnic and a homemade crown, it could be the most memorable day this summer! Here’s my pick of 10 of the Best Castles In Ireland To Visit With Kids (in no particular order):
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#1. Ardgillan Castle
There is heaps to see and do at Ardgillan Castle and Demesne, located in Balbriggan, Co. Dublin. Explore the beautiful gardens, grab a map and quiz at reception and complete the educational fairy trail situated around the woodlands, climb the trees or take a seat on the King’s chair.
Known for its panoramic views of Dublin Bay why not see it for yourself. Make sure to check out the massive sea-themed playground. With the right weather and a picnic, you could spend the whole day here. There are toilets, a small shop and First Aid located at the playground.
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#2. Birr Castle Gardens & Science Centre, Offaly
Owned by the Parsons family, the award-winning Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre in Offaly is a must for your summer bucket list. The magnificent castle is a rare gem in the heart of Ireland. The castle tour includes a 45-minute guided tour (summer months) of stunning beautiful reception rooms. A guide will lead you through the magnificent rooms while educating you on the extraordinary and pioneering history of the Parsons family, most especially in the area of science. Your guide will also discuss the antique furniture, the family portraits, chandeliers and tapestries within the rooms you visit.
Over 150 years ago if you were an engineer, astronomer or scientist, Birr was the place to be. Back then Birr had the world’s largest telescope and attracted some of the best mathematical, engineering and creative minds. The science centre is still there today so be sure to add a visit to it while checking out the castle.
With 120 acres to explore, Birr Castle Gardens is home to the world’s tallest hedge boxes, waterfalls, lakes and rivers. They even have three different walking trails. Also a big hit with the kids is the Treehouse Adventure Area at Birr Castle which opens daily from 9.00 until 17.00. It features the largest treehouse in Ireland along with slides, a hobbit hut, climbing frames, a bouncy pillow (weather permitting), sand pits, picnic benches and so much more.
A family pass at Birr for two adults and two children is €25. Children 4 and under go free.
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#3. Kilkenny Castle
Discover Kilkenny Castle, a 12th century castle remodelled in Victorian times with a daily guided tour priced at €20 per family.
Admission is free to the rose garden, parkland paths leading to a small burial ground, woodland walk, lake area and children’s playground.
There’s a tea room on site if you don’t fancy packing a picnic.
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#4. Trim Castle
Trim Castle in County Meath is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. It has a massive twenty-sided tower complete with a ditch, curtain wall and moat.
Explore the castle with a daily guided tour from March to December priced at €10 per family.
Tip: Meath is also home to megalithic sites such as The Hill of Tara, Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, so make a day out in Ireland’s Ancient East to enjoy some of the sights.
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#5. Bunratty Castle
Go back in time with a visit to Bunratty Castle in County Clare built in 1425. Complete with its own authentic medieval fortress, folk park with homes from the past for you to visit and see how people lived in the past, walled garden and fairy village.
At the fairy village let the little ones explore the miniature Bunratty Castle and mini replicas of the houses that surround the folk park. There’s also a new willow tunnel and willow hut in the surroundings of the magical forest trail.
An array of animals live at Bunratty who would love a visit including donkeys, sheep, ponies, deer, goats, peacocks and ducks.
Then spend some time at the Folk Park enjoying the village street complete with school, doctor’s house, pub and shops.
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#6. Cahir Castle, Tipperary
Standing guard in Tipperary over the River Suir, Cahir Castle is one of Ireland’s most impressive medieval castles. It has featured in a few films and TV series – parts of The Tudors were filmed here, as well as Excalibur and Moonfleet.
Explore this historic castle and all it has to offer with a guided tour around Cahir Castle, where you’ll discover everything about the powerful Butler family who owned it and learn more about the magnificent building itself.
If you’d rather stroll around the castle at your own pace you can watch audiovisual shows at your leisure. Mind the kids on the narrow stairs and on the castle walls if you climb up them.
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#7. Malahide Castle, Dublin
Catch a guided tour around the stunning Malahide castle with a long and rich history where the oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century. Visit the interactive exhibition centre, walled gardens or why not wander to the newly renovated tree-lined children’s playground consisting of various types of climbing frames, swings, slides and contraptions to suit children of all ages.
Hitch a ride on Toots, The Malahide Road Train from Malahide DART Station in Dublin right to the castle. A family ticket for 2 adults & 2 children is just €12 and there is live commentary from a professional Failte Ireland Guide on board.
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#8. Enniscorthy Castle, Wexford
Once home to Norman knights, English armies, Irish rebels, prisoners, and local merchant families, Enniscorthy Castle is located in Enniscorthy Town in the heart of County Wexford.
Children will love exploring the dungeons and the battlements of the castle and viewing the exhibitions as you move through the castle.
A family pass for all three attractions is priced at €25 for 2 adults and up to 3 Children.
Tip: You can dress up as a knight at the Castle when you visit, and there’s also a great view from the roof.
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#9. Kylemore Abbey, Co. Galway
Kylemore Abbey, in Connemara, Co. Galway, was built as a breathtaking Castle in 1868, it is now an Abbey and home to a community of Benedictine nuns. It is the perfect destination for a family day out with over 1000 acres of woodland walks and a secret Walled Garden and ornate church waiting to be discovered.
Make a wish at the Ironing Stone, take a peek through the windows of their Chocolate Kitchen, or why not discover the wonders of the play trail including a hanging xylophone, kids love it.
Kylemore Abbey regularly hosts family events so it’s one to keep an eye on. Children under 10 go free. Adults are charged at €9 per person.
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#10. Enniskillen Castle, County Fermanagh
Enniskillen Castle, built almost 600 years ago, beside the River Erne, stands guard over one of the few passes into Ulster, and so has had a strategic role to play in history.
It has a 17th century Watergate with twin turrets and a museum in the Castle Keep. The Visitor Centre at the Castle boasts interactive quizzes, exhibits, movies, stories, and lots more.
You can also visit the Enniskillen Castle Museums, there are 2 museums at the Castle:
- Fermanagh County Museum, where you can find out about the history of Fermanagh, the county’s traditional rural life, local crafts and the celebrated pottery at Belleek
- The Inniskillings Museum, which tells the story of the town of Enniskillen’s two regiments, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.
Admission into the Visitor Centre is FREE. Entry into the two Enniskillen Castle Museums is £13.50 for a family of two adults and three children.
Over to you now. Is your favourite Irish castle on our list of the best castles in Ireland to take the kids to? Tell us in the comments below.