Donegal Castle sits right in the city center of Donegal Town. Fully restored in the early 1990s, the castle consists of a 15th-century rectangular keep with a later Jacobean style wing. You can see in some of the pictures the River Eske. The castle was the stronghold of the O’Donnell clan, Lords of Tír Conaill and one of the most powerful Gaelic families in Ireland from the 5th to the 16th centuries. It was constructed in 1474.
The keep has odd square shaped windows at the top which make this castle quite unique. It also has one of the most spectacular stone fireplaces called the Brooke Fireplace located in the Great Hall.
So I thought Kilkenny looked familiar, but I thought it was because I was getting good at recognizing Georgian Architecture! Imagine my surprise when Randy spotted a picture of a red and yellow door that he was sure I also had in an older portfolio. So I now realize that I returned to Kilkenny with Randy after visiting there about 5 years ago while on a work trip!
Cahir Castle is one of the largest castles in Ireland. It sits on an island in the river Suir, which explains why much of the park near the castle was flooded by recent rains. It was built from 1142 by Conor O’Brien, Prince of Thomond. Located right in the town centre, the castle is very well preserved.
The site for the castle is a former native fortification known as a cathair (which means “stone fort”). The core structure of the castle dates to construction in the 13th century by the O’Brien family.
The Great Hall, which has been beautifully restored, was partly rebuilt in 1840. You can see the panoramic photos I created of this hall in this portfolio.
Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold near Cork and, incidentally, the River Martin. Though earlier fortifications were built on the same spot, the current keep was built by the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty beginning in 1446. I did not kiss the Blarney Stone after hearing all the stories of how people have done disgusting things to it. The Stone of Eloquence (better known as the Blarney Stone) is located at the top of the castle, where tourists literally hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence.
The highlight of the visit is strolling through beautiful gardens, which are spectacular even in the dead of winter. Blarney House was not open when we visited, but it is the more recently built (1874) mansion on the property.
Cork actually means “marsh”. With all the rains in Ireland this year, I can see why! The city is a University town split into a few islands by the River Lee.
Viking invaders expanded the area around 915, and Prince John, Lord of Ireland, granted the city’s charter in 1185. Like many European cities, Cork city was once fully walled, as you can see in some of the photos.
We saw Cork in the evening after a day packed with visits to the Ring of Kerry and various castles and we stayed at a very nice hotel central to the city. We also had beers at the Oliver Plunkett, where lively Irish music was performed in the background.
King John’s Castle is a 13th-century castle located on King’s Island in Limerick, Ireland. The River Shannon runs in front of the castle, and with the heavy rains, much of the park surrounding the castle was flooded. The site dates back to 922, when the Vikings lived on the Island. The castle gets its name from King John, who ordered the construction of the castle in 1200. Well preserved, this Norman castle still maintains original walls, towers, and fortifications.