The dramatic façade of Slane Castle is known to all U2 lovers. The band has been associated with Slane for decades – they even lived there in 1984 while recording The Unforgettable Fire.
Travelling round Ireland, you can’t miss these turreted, ivy-clad castles and houses. They are a visual, structural link with the past, to a time when areas were defined by the castle or ‘Big House’.
Some of Ireland’s historic houses, like the magnificent 18th century Palladian-style Castletown House in Kildare, are owned by the state. Others, like Slane, are still lived in by their hereditary families.
Lived in or not, many of Ireland’s castles and houses offer guided tours. And activities: cookery courses, concerts, fishing, formal gardens. Westport House in Mayo, has an adventure park while Desmond Castle in Kinsale includes an International Museum of Wine.
And if you really want to get into castle life, don your gowns and take up your lyres for the medieval banquets at Bunratty Castle.
You can search for more castles and historic houses on our comprehensive listings page.