Medieval castles in Ireland are a fine example of Anglo-Norman stone and earthwork. The Irish would make use of these castles primarily for defensive purposes. Many battles have been fought over these castles as they served as strongholds of the reigning kings and the opportunity seeking conquerors through time.
The Medieval castles vary in type and size. They are made using different building materials and are based on various forms of architecture. Ireland has successfully managed to save some of these ruins which now serve as major tourist attractions.
Popular Medieval Castles
Amongst the most popular medieval castle structures are the motte and the ringwork. Mottes were castles built upon mounds of earth. Some of the mottes would feature a courtyard inside their walls which were known as baileys. Ringwork medieval castles are hardly to be found anymore although a lot of them existed back in time. It has been difficult to preserve these kinds of castles.
The eastern part of the country is home a large number of mottes. Approximately 340 mottes are spread throughout Ireland with almost 275 located in Leinster. County Kilkennym Callan, Shanid and County Kildare are some of most important regions where medieval motte castles can be found. Ringwork ruins can be found in Co. Cavan and Castlerahan.
The most popular medieval castles are those made of stone. The bulk of the construction of stone castles in Ireland took place from 1175 to 1300. Stone castles replaced the weak earth and timber structures to provide the kings with better reinforcement. One can judge from the strategic location of these stone castles that they were of immense importance to the rulers of that time. Particularly notable are the medieval stone castles set up on river banks.
One of the most popular medieval stone castles in Ireland is the Dublin Castle which is believed to be the only true King John’s castle. The Dublin Castle along with the Maynoonth Castle and others of their time featured the trade mark twin towers, drawbridge and moat.
Another important medieval castle is the Kilkenny Castle. It is renowned as being a castle with six towers. However Ireland has only managed to save four of them which still remain standing. It bears some resemblance to the Dublin castle. However the castle has gone through a series of modifications with time.
There are numerous other stone structures that line various parts of the country. Adare Castle is yet another must visit medieval structure. Other popular medieval castles are the Castleroch, Ferns Castle, Co. Louth and Co. Wexford.
Visitors to Ireland can get a chance to explore these marvelous structures that are not only architecturally brilliant but of great historical significance to the country. Many of these medieval castles have been converted into resorts and hotels where tourists can stay and get a chance to experience what it was like living in such wondrous structures.