The magnificent Knappogue Castle is arguably one of the most overlooked of the many Irish castles.
Once the stately home of noble medieval lords, Knappogue Castle is now a historical entertainment experience not to be missed in the Shannon Region of Clare.
From partaking in a medieval-style banquet to spending the night in the tower house, a visit to Knappogue Castle is certainly memorable.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from the Knappogue Castle Banquet to the well-known Knappogue Castle Whiskey.
Some quick need-to-knows before you visit Knappogue Castle in Clare
Although a visit to Knappogue Castle is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Knappogue Castle is located just outside of Quin village in the Shannon Region of County Clare. It’s just 24km from Shannon Airport.
2. Snappy history
The castle is a tower house built in 1467 by Sean Mac Conmara. It became the seat of the Mac Conmara family, the Earls of West Clancullen in 1571. The castle saw major restoration and extension work in the 19 th century under the Scott and Dunboyne families, much of which still exists today.
You might also recognise the name, Knappogue Castle, as a premium single malt whiskey produced by Castle Brands. When, in 1966, Mark Edwin Andrews bought Knappogue Castle, he also began buying casks of fine pot still whiskey from some of the top whiskey distilleries in Ireland. More on what happened next below.
Knappogue Castle history
This castle boasts a long and colourful history, and I won’t do it justice with a few paragraphs. The below is intended to give you a taste of what to expect when you visit.
Knappogue Castle has changed through numerous hands over its long history. As mentioned above, the castle was originally built by the Mac Conmara family in the 15th century.
Its name, Knappogue, translates to the “castle of the place abounding in little hills.” Eventually the castle was sold to the Scott family of Cahircon in 1800, who undertook major extension and restoration work on the structure.
In 1855, the castle was acquired by Theobold Fitzwalter Butler and it became the seat of the Dunboyne family. They added a drawing room and the west wing, as well as the clock tower and gateway.
In 1966, Americans, Mark Edwin Andrews and his wife bought the castle from the Quinn
family. They carried out extensive restorations of the place in collaboration with Shannon Heritage with plans to convert the castle into a restaurant and private residence.
Shannon Development has since purchased the castle in 1996 and turned it into an entertainment venue for banquets, weddings and accommodation.
Knappogue Castle Whiskey
After buying the castle and acquiring a number of barrels of whiskey, Andrews went about further aging the casks and bottled them under the Knappogue Castle label.
His last bottling, which was a 1951 vintage, is revered around the world as the oldest and rarest commercially available Irish whiskey.
Andrews’ son, Mark Andrews III has since taken the whiskey to the US and other countries around the world.
Things to see and do at Knappogue Castle
There’s plenty to see and do here, from the brilliant Knappogue Castle Banquet to the castle accommodation and more, there’s lots to keep you entertained.
1. The Medieval Banquets
In tribute to the reputation for lavish parties held in the castle by the Mac Conmara lords, you can take part in a medieval-style banquet at the Knappogue Castle.
In the evening, you are greeted by butlers and the ladies of the castle before being led to the Dalcassian Hall.
The banquets include goblets of honey wine, traditional dishes and background music of the harp and fiddle.
The Earl’s Butler recounts the history of the castle as you enjoy your meal. The memorable night will surely make you feel as though you’ve time travelled back into the 15 th century.
2. Spend a night at the castle
If you really want to live like a lord or lady for the night, then you can also opt to stay at the castle in one of their beautiful rooms (there’s lots of castles to rent in Ireland).
They have double, twin and family rooms available decorated with stunning antique furniture and oil paintings.
They’re also fully equipped with a kitchen and laundry, so you can truly feel at home in the castle. You can also enjoy a complimentary breakfast, the restored Walled Garden as well as a range of places to visit nearby.
Things to do near Knappogue Castle
One of the beauties of Knappogue Castle in Clare is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Knappogue Castle (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Ennis Town
Just 13km away from the castle lies the town of Ennis, the capital of County Clare. The historical town has a picturesque centre filled with narrow streets and beautiful old buildings. There’s plenty of things to do in Ennis, from Ennis Friary to Quin Abbey.
2. Carrigogunnell Castle
Just outside of Limerick city, this 15th century castle sits on a volcanic rock overlooking the whole Shannon estuary. It was blasted apart in 1691 during the siege of Limerick but the old ruins are worth the trip out for their beautiful setting.
3. Bunratty Castle
Another tower house in Clare, a visit to the 15th century Bunratty Castle is one of the most popular things to do in Shannon. The castle and surrounding folk park are a beautiful place to visit with incredible views across the countryside from the tower.
This open-air museum is a great way to delve into some more history. You can tour through an old 16 th century castle and recreated Celtic dwellings in this large park area. It’s popular with people of all ages, with a chance to reimagine life as far back as the Bronze Age.
5. Cliffs of Moher
On the coast of Clare, the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most breathtaking places to visit in Ireland. The dramatic sea cliffs feature an 18km hiking trail and visitor centre with stunning lookouts across the coastline. There’s plenty of things to do in Doolin, nearby, and the Burren.
FAQs about visiting Knappogue Castle in Clare
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the Knappogue Castle banquet to the Knappogue Castle whiskey.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Knappogue Castle worth visiting?
Yes! The Knappogue Castle banquet is a nice and unique experience and, if you fancy a night away with a difference, the accommodation on-site is incredible.
How do you pronounce Knappogue?
The name ‘Knappogue’ is pronounced ‘Nah-Pogue’ and it means ‘Hill of the Kiss’ in Irish!
Where in Ireland is Knappogue Castle?
You’ll find the castle in Clare, not far from the towns of Ennis and Shannon.
Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.