The Castles and Ancient sites of North West Ireland seem to blend seamlessly with its rugged terrain. These sites add to the charm of the North West and further investigation is rewarded. Learn how Enniskillen Castle, in County Fermanagh, was used in the rebellion against British rule in the 16th century and how the ring fort of Grianan Of Aileach, in County Donegal, is believed to be the oldest building in Ireland. On this page you can find our selection of North West Ireland's Castles and Ancient Settlements.
Donegal Castle is located in Donegal Town centre. The castle lay in ruins for two centuries until it was almost fully restored in the early 1990s. Red Hugh O'Donnell of the O'Donnell clan built the castle in 1474. It was told that there was an underground passage linking Donegal Castle to a nearby Franciscan monastery, also built by O'Donnell, but geographical evidence of this has never been found. English Captain, Basil Brooke, took charge of the castle during the plantation of Ulster in 1611. After the Brooke family sold the castle in the 1670s, after which time the castle.
The Office of Public Works restored Donegal Castle in the early 1990s and today it is open to the public and plays host to cultural events and local ceremonies.
Parke's Castle is located on the banks of Lough Gill in County Leitrim. Originally known as O'Rourke's Castle, before its owner Sir Brian O'Rourke was executed for high treason by the British in 1591. During the plantations of Leitrim (during the 1610s), Sir Roger Parke was granted control of the castle and its grounds.
When two of Parke's grandchildren drowned in a boating accident on Lough Gill, his one remaining grandchild Anne became the sole heir to the estate. Anne, however, moved to Sligo upon marrying and the grounds were left to fall into disrepair. This is how it remained for over two centuries before the state took over ownership. Today the castle
Parke's Castle is open from late March to late September. There is access for visitors with disabilities to the ground floor only.
Enniskillen Castle is situated in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. It was first constructed by Hugh Maguire in 1428. In 1594 it was taken over by the English and its occupants were massacred. A year later, an Irish army lead by Hugh Maguire and Cormac MacBaron O'Neill regained control of the castle. The castle remained in the hands of the Irish until the summer of 1602 when an Irish ally to the British crown, Niall Garve O'Donnell, took over control. Enniskillen Castle, for a time renamed as "Castle Barracks" was used by the British in response to threats of invasion from the French in 1796.
In 1950 the barracks were decommissioned and Enniskillen Castle was opened to the public. Today the castle plays host to the Fermanagh County Museum, focusing on Fermanagh's prehistoric and natural history as well as its traditional rural life, and the Inniskillings Museum, which looks back at areas regimental history, including the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards. There are also displays of works from the nearby Belleek Pottery.
Grianan Of Aileach, also known as Greenan Ely or Greenan Fort, is a hillfort resting on the 801 ft high Greenan Mountain in County Donegal. Believed to have been constructed in the 6th or 7th century by the Northern Uí Néill dynasty, it acted as the seat of their Kingdom of Ailech. This Kingdom lost to majority of its power to Norman invasions during the 12th century and the Grianan Of Aileach was left in ruins until restoration works were carried out in 1870. Today the fort is owned by the Irish government, receives periodic restoration and is accessible by the public.
Adare is a small town in Co. Limerick, known for its quaint and colourful thatched cottages. Adare is considered to be one of Ireland's most beautiful towns so stop and take in the view. Don't forget your camera today - the perfect chance to capture the essence of old Ireland.
Explore Adare Village along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Travelling along the shores of Lough Erne Upper and Lough Erne Lower, you will reach Belleek Pottery, one of the oldest potteries in the world dating from 1857. Today, the visitor centre still displays pieces which date from those early samples over 150 years ago. Touring the pottery, meet and chat with the craftspeople as they produce ceramics that will be exported across the globe.
Belleek Pottery can be found just off the trail of the Wild Atlantic Way
Take a journey through this once troubled city. See the murals of the Loyalist Shankill Road & Nationalist Falls Road. The Troubles took their toll on the economic life of Belfast, but the past ten years of peace have returned much prosperity while the genuine friendliness of the city never left.
Originally built in 1823, Blarney Woollen Mills was mainly used for the spinning and weaving of wool. After it closed in 1973, it reopened in 1975 — as an Irish heritage shop.
The Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre commemorates the last pitched battle fought on British soil, in April 1746. Learn more about the Jacobite intent to overthrow the House of Hanover and return the House of Stuart to the British throne.
Located within Glenveagh National Park, Glenveagh Castle was built by Captain John George Adair between 1870 and 1873. Having made his fortune through land speculation in America, Adair return to Ireland and began large amounts of land in County Donegal. The castle was built in the Scottish Baronial style and is surrounded by a garden and commands stunning views of the nearby mountains, lakes, woodlands and valleys.
About Highland Folk Museum is a museum and open-air attraction located in the Scottish Highlands. It is designed to showcase the domestic and working lives of the early highland people.
Located alongside the River Shannon in County Limerick, on King's Island. Dating back to 922, to a time when Vikings were the inhabitants of the island (Thormodr Helgason, the Viking sea-king, built the first settlement here. The castle itself was built in 1200, under the instruction of King John of England.
Located close to the Killarney National Park, Moriarty's is an Authentic Irish Gift Store and Restaurant. Hand crafted Irish jewellery, Waterford Crystal and classic and modern tweed fashions and furnishings are all on offer at the gift store. The restaurant is an 85 seater offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Mount Congreve Gardens. Located in Kilmeaden, County Waterford, Mount Congreve Gardens is an 18th century Georgian estate and mansion. It was designed by the same architect that created both of Waterford's cathedrals, John Roberts.
Recently recognised as being one of the top 10 gardens in the world, Mount Stewart is a rich tapestry of planting plant life and stunning walking trails. The house dates back to the 19th century, and was the Irish seat of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family.
Located on the grounds of the expansive and idyllic Killarney National Park. Muckross House, and its 11,000-acre grounds, was donated to the Irish state in 1932.
Located on the grounds of the picturesque Muckross House and its impeccable gardens. Take a step back in time and see the Irish farming lifestyle of the 1930s and '40s. A time when the horse was responsible for much of the labour and the weather was the be all and end all in terms of production.
The Quiet Man Museum. A reproduction of the quaint thatched cottage from the John Wayne starring, John Ford directed movie of the same name. all costumes, artifacts and furnishings have been recreated in precise detail, to reflect the setting of the 1952 classic. Located in the picturesque village of Cong, County Mayo.