“Hey. We’re here for 48 hours. Can you recommend any good castles near Dublin, Ireland?”
Emails that go something along the lines of the question above tend to hit my inbox every few days.
Mainly from Americans that are in Ireland for a few days and that are looking to wedge in as much as possible.
If you’re only here for a short stint and you’re looking for the best castles near Dublin that are handy to get to and worth the visit, you’ll find plenty below!
Castles Near Dublin You’ll Love
If you read our guide to 50 of the best Irish castles, you’ll recognise many of the structures included in the guide below.
Many of these castles around Dublin are a handy 30-minute drive away, while others are a little bit further afield.
I wanted to keep the list tight, so that it only contains castles near Dublin. You won’t find any castle that’s more than a 90-minute drive from the capital.
1. Trim Castle (one of the Best Castles Near Dublin City)
I love Trim Castle. It’s a handy 37-minute drive from Dublin Airport (not far from where I live) and it’s incredible no matter how many times you visit.
You’ll find this mighty castle in County Meath, on the banks of the River Boyne. It was once the largest castle in Ireland and it dates back to 1176, when it was constructed by Hugh de Lacy.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Braveheart, you may recognise Trim, as it was used as one of the locations during the filming of the Hollywood blockbuster.
You can have a ramble around Trim Castle, if you like, however it’s far more impressive when admired from the outside.
2. Leap Castle
Leap Castle is widely regarded as the most haunted castle in Ireland. You’ll find it in a town called Coolderry in Offaly, an hour and a half drive from Dublin Airport.
According to legend, the castle is haunted by a red lady and it’s said that she prowls the castle at night with a silver blade clutched in her hand.
Although there is a lot of debate about when the main tower area was built, it’s widely accepted that the castle was likely constructed in 1250.
It was built by the O’Bannon’s and it saw it’s fair share of bloodshed over the years. If you’re looking to visit haunted castles near Dublin, get yourself to Leap.
3. Bellingham Castle
You’ll find Bellingham Castle in County Louth, a handy 40-minute drive from Dublin Airport, making it the perfect place to visit if you’re staying in the city and stuck for time.
Bellingham Castle was constructed in 1660 by Sir Henry Bellingham and it continued to serve as one of the ancestral homes for the Bellingham family until the 1950s. Interestingly enough, the castle was burned to the ground in 1689 by King James II, in an act of revenge.
He was infuriated that Colonel Thomas Bellingham allowed King William’s armies to camp in the castle grounds on the night before the Battle of the Boyne.
In December 2012, the castle was purchased by the Corscadden family who own a number of castle hotels in Ireland. Yes, you can spend a night here if you fancy!
4. Cú Chulainn’s Castle (Perfect if you’re Looking for Castles Around Dublin that are Steeped in Folklore)
We’re staying in County Louth, next, to take a spin out to Cú Chulainn’s Castle, more commonly known as ‘Dún Dealgan Motte’.
You’ll find it a handy 45-minute drive from Dublin where it overlooks the chilly waters of Castletown River. If you’re looking for Irish castles near Dublin that boast a tonne of folklore, look no further than this one.
The story goes that the warrior Cú Chulainn used this castle as his base when he was attacking Queen Meave’s forces. There’s another legend that states that it was on the grounds of the castle that Cú Chulainn was born.
5. Castle Roche
Yep, we’re in Louth again next to visit Castle Roche. You’ll find the castle around 10km away from Dundalk town, a 52-minute drive from Dublin Airport.
Castle Roche was built in 1236 AD by the De Verdun family and it served as their seat for many years.
The castle is finely situated atop of a rugged rocky outcrop. From here, you’ll be treated to unbeatable views out across the surrounding countryside.
There’s no formal tour of Castle Roche. If you fancy visiting it, you can walk to it via the nearby farm gates (close them after you!).
6. Loughmoe Castle
Next, we’re off to Loughmoe Castle in County Tipperary, an hour and 30-minute drive from Dublin Airport where its name boasts a quirky history.
Loughmoe Castle in Irish is ‘Luach Mhagh’, which translates to ‘the field of the reward’. The name hints at how the castles name came about.
Many years ago, when the castle was ruled by a king, the woods surrounding the it was terrorised by a gigantic boar and sow.
In order to rid the woods of the beasts, the king offered the man who killed them the hand of his daughter along with the castle.
Many man tired and failed. Then a young lad called Purcell succeeded. He did it by climbing in through the nearby forest and stalking the animals from the branches above.
7. Cabra Castle
Next in our guide to the best castle near Dublin is the brilliant Cabra Castle in Cavan, a handy 58-minute drive from Dublin Airport.
You’ll find this beautiful 18th-century castle nestled on 100 lush acres of finely mantained gardens and parklands.
In a previous life, Cabra Castle was part of the 1,000-acre demesne of Dun Na Rí National Forest Park (well worth visiting if you’d like to head off for a ramble!).
If you fancy diving head-first into treat-yoself mode, you can spend the night (or indulge in afternoon tea) at Cabra Castle.
8. Charleville Castle
I’ll level with you – I always thought Charleville Castle was in County Cork… I was very wrong altogether.
Charleville Castle is located just outside Tullamore, in County Offaly, a short 75-minute drive from Dublin Airport.
Built in the 1600s, this gorgeous structure is arguably one of the best-preserved castles around Dublin.
According to legend, Charleville is haunted by the ghost of a girl named Harriet, who died tragically in the castle in 1861.
9. Kinnitty Castle
We’re going to stay in County Offaly next to check out the magnificent 19th-century Kinnitty Irish Castle Hotel.
Located at the foothill of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, this castle boasts 650 acres of parkland and an interesting history, to boot!
If you spend the night here, you can nurse a drink or two in the cosy Library Bar and learn all about how the castle was destroyed in 1209.
It shouldn’t take you any longer than 90 minutes to drive to Kinnitty Castle if you leave from Dublin Airport outside of rush hour.
10. Kilkenny Castle
Ah, Kilkenny Castle – arguably the most visited of the many castles near Dublin, thanks to its appearance on a million post cards and in twice as many photos on social media.
The impressive Kilkenny Castle was constructed in 1195 and was a symbol of Norman occupation in Ireland.
Back in the 13th-century, Kilkenny Castle was an important element of the town’s defense, thanks to its four large corner towers and the massive ditch that can still be seen to this day.
11. Slane Castle
Slane Castle in County Meath, a quick 38-minute drive from Dublin Airport, is one of the best known castles in Ireland.
You’ll find it in the village of Slane, within the incredible Boyne Valley, where its been the seat of the Conyngham family since it was built during the late 18th century.
The castle grounds have long played host to some of the biggest artists in the world, with everyone from Eminem to Bon Jovi taking to the stage here.
The tour of Slane Castle is supposed to be excellent. There’s also a distillery on-site that you can take a tour of.
What Castles Around Dublin have we Missed?
Is there a castle near Dublin that needs to be added to the guide above? If so, let me know in the comments section below!