Mountsandel is the oldest known settlement of man in Ireland, dating back to between 7900 and 7600 BC. Ulster was invaded by Normans I 1171 and fell under their rule for the following 150 years. Following the plantation of thousands of English and Scottish people into Northern Ireland by King James l, in 1610, plantation houses and castles began to appear across the landscape. The best example of a castle from this period, that still stands today, is Dunluce Castle in County Antrim. On this page you can find the castles and ancient settlements that tell the story of Northern Ireland's past.
Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman castle located on the northern shores of Belfast Lough. The castle was first built by in 1177 by John de Courcy after he conquered eastern Ulster. In 1210 King John of England took control of the castle and has remained under British control ever since. Carrickfergus Castle was used as a garrison for British troops during the First World War and as an air raid shelter in World War II.
If you are visiting Carrickfergus Castle it is worth noting that disabled access is very limited for wheelchair users.
Today, Dunluce Castle lies in ruins. Once the seat of Clan McDonnell, found between the towns of Portballintrae and Portrush in County Antrim, the castle is perched on a cliff face with steep drops to the sea on either side. Originally built by Richard Óg de Burgh in the 13th century and then the McQuillan family in 1513 until it was given over to the MacDonnell family after their victory in two battles in the mid to late 16th century.
The castle was passed down through different families in the British royal family up until the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, after which time it fell into disrepair and was torn apart for materials to aid the construction of nearby buildings. In the 18th century the north wall of the building collapsed into the sea, today the other three walls still stand.
Following John de Courcy's invasion of Ulster in the 13th century, he ordered the construction of Dundrum Castle. The castle is perfectly located to serve as a lookout across Dundrum Bay, to the south, the low lying laid running towards Slieve Croob, to the east, and the plains of Lecale, to the east. The castle, like others in Northern Ireland, was taken over by King John of England in 1210 and then passed down through the British royal family. Today the castle lies in ruins and is a very popular attraction for school tours and tourists visiting the area.
Belfast Castle was first build in the 12th century by the Normans. In 1611, the Baron of Belfast, Sir Arthur Chichester rebuilt the castle with stone and timber. This version of the castle was burned down in 1708. Choosing not to build a castle in the same location, the 'new' Belfast Castle was constructed on Cave Hill in 1870. The &11,000 needed for the construction was donated by a relation of Sir Arthur Chichester's, Lord Ashley 8th Earl of Shaftesbury, who later inherited the castle in 1884.
Belfast Castle remained a private property until 1934 when it was gifted to the city. Today the castle acts as a popular venue for afternoon teas, weddings and other public events.
Giant's Ring is a prehistoric circular enclosure located 5 km outside Belfast City. It is believed to have been built around 2700BC, in the Neolithic period, meaning that it older than the Egyptian pyramids. It is thought to have been originally used as a passage tomb. The outer, raised ridge has a diameter of 590 ft housing a Megalithic tomb in its centre. During the 18th century horse racing events were held at the site.
Beaghmore is a collection of different stone circles, cairns (man-made piles of stones) and Bronze Age megalithic features. Investigations of the area indicate that the site was used as early as the Neolithic era. it is thought that the area was used mainly as a focal point for religious gatherings and social events. A number of the cairns have been found to contain cremated human remains held within small crypts. Archaeologists also believe, due to the stones circles alignment with the rising sun at the solstice, that they were placed where they are in observation of particular solar events.
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
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.