Irish castles


When Partner and I went to Ireland in 2007, we saw (and clambered through) no less than three castles in our seven short days there:



  • King John’s Castle in Limerick. Early 13th century, honeycombed with tiny staircases and wee little low-ceilinged rooms. (People were evidently mighty small in King John’s day.) Lots of dungeons, of course; you can never have enough dungeons. And a nice young handsome well-muscled Irishman was forging coins down in the Mint, and made both of us a Limerick shilling on the spot, for a couple of euros.

  • Cahir Castle, in Carrick-on-Suir. We passed through Carrick en route to Cashel, and had a couple of hours to kill, and – well, wasn’t there a castle right over there? Cahir Castle is lovely. Mostly 15th – 16th century, with a few earlier bits. A nice big rack of Irish elk antlers on the hunting lodge wall. (The Irish elk was a monstrously big fellow, with antlers the size of the average modern playground jungle gym, who got hunted to extinction.) The castle has iron gates, and a big ugly iron eagle on one of the parapets. We had a wonderful time tromping around on around the ramparts and looking down on the town of Carrick, which is itself a charming little Irish town. (Here’s a tip, though: we made the mistake of eating in an Italian restaurant there. Do not make the same mistake we made.)

  • Cashel. The Rock of Cashel is something out of Tolkien: a gigantic crag in the middle of the green valleys of Tipperary. A castle – actually a whole bunch of castles, built over centuries – guard the top of it. We wandered through them, and saw St. Patrick’s Cross, and I picked a shamrock from the grass. (But, frankly, the Rock looks better from a distance; close up, the buildings are in desperately bad shape – the guide told us that one of the chapels was full of poisonous mold. )



One last tip: if you go to Ireland, you will do well to stay off the beaten path. The little towns are really the best. I’d never heard of Carrick before we went to Ireland, and I ended up having a lovely time there.



Just don’t go to the Italian restaurant down the street from the castle.





About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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