stronghold

Donegal Castle

Stop #17:
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.

Blarney Castle

Stop#5:
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.

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