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    Castles of Ireland

    IrelandThere are hundreds of castles in Ireland, the most famous of which is probably Blarney Castle where the Blarney Stone can be found. Built in 1446 it has become symbolic of Ireland and is one of the most visited places in Ireland. There are many stories associated with the castle. The Blarney Stone is believed to have been given to the King of Munster by Robert the Bruce in gratitude for his help at the battle of Bannockburn.

    Another interesting castle is Leap Castle in County Offaly. It is reputedly the most haunted castle in Ireland and has guarded the pass from Slieve Bloom to Munster since the 14th century. In 1532 the O’Carroll clan owned the castle. During a power struggle within the family one brother killed the other (who was a priest) in the chapel in front of his family. After that it was known as the Bloody Chapel and years later, when it was being renovated, a dungeon was found just off the chapel. It had a drop floor and prisoners were pushed into the room to fall through the floor onto a sharp spike. When they found the room it took three carts to remove all the bones!

    Also in County Offaly is Birr Castle. It has magnificent gardens but its main attraction is the telescope. The first one was built in 1825 and subsequent occupants of the castle have improved and rebuilt it. It was the largest in the world until 1917. Also on the grounds of the castle is the oldest wrought iron bridge in Ireland dating back to 1820.

    Thoor Ballylee Castle in County Galway was home to W.B.Yeats for 12 years. After he and his family move out in 1929 it fell into disrepair. In 1965 it was restored and is now a museum dedicated to Yeats.

    Killua Castle once belonged to the Chapman family from Leicestershire, England. They managed to acquire large areas of land due to the fact that Sir Walter Raleigh was their cousin and also due to another family member serving in Cromwell’s army. More recently it is better known as the family seat of T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia although he never actually lived there.

    Trim Castle in County Meath is the largest castle in Ireland. Built on the banks of the river Boyne by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter over a 30 year period in the 12th century. Its most prominent feature is the three storied keep which is twenty five metres high with walls eleven feet thick! It was used in the filming of the Mel Gibson movie Braveheart.

    There are also many castles where you can stay such as Cabra Castle in County Cavan where Oliver Cromwell and James II once visited or Abbeyglen Castle a romantic castle in County Galway which has mountains as a backdrop. Whatever your holiday choice, self-catering or luxury hotel there is a castle for you.

    Have you visited any other castles in Ireland that you found interesting?

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