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10 enchanting castles in Ireland that you can actually stay in

Belleek Castle, County Mayo
Belleek Castle, County Mayo   -   Copyright  David Gordon
By David Gordon

Ireland is known for lush green countryside, cosy pubs, its historic backdrop and hospitable locals. It’s also home to some of Europe’s most iconic castles.

Here, we take a look at the ones you can actually stay in.

1. Castle Leslie Co Monaghan

David Gordon
Castle LeslieDavid Gordon

One of the last great Irish Castle estates still under the ownership of its founding family. Castle Leslie has welcomed politicians, poets and celebrities since the late 1600s.

The historic castle bedrooms are unencumbered with modern conveniences like televisions so that guests can truly relax.

The drawing room is festooned with family portraits, photographs and heirlooms - and has stunning views of the lake and some of the estates 1000 acres.

2. Ashford Castle, Co Mayo

One of the oldest on our list, this 800-year-old build offers opulent five-star accommodation. The castle has been welcoming guests as a private estate and latterly a hotel for centuries.

The estate is a true country retreat, with Falconry, Fishing and Clay shooting among some of the many experiences on offer.

3. Bantry House, Co Cork

David Gordon
Bantry HouseDavid Gordon

Overlooking Bantry Bay on the Wild Atlantic Way and considered to be one of Ireland’s finest historic houses, this elegant stately home offers bed and breakfast accommodation in rooms with period furniture and silk curtains.

All the rooms overlook the historic Italianate garden and fountain.

4. Belleek Castle, Co. Mayo

This 1820’s neo-gothic castle is rich in decor and antiquities and the open log fires create an informal, cosy feel.

The castle is set in 1,000 acres of woodland and forestry on the banks of the River Moy and the on-site museum includes the finest collection of 16th century armoury housed in Ireland.

5. Castle Durrow, Co. Laois

David Gordon
Castle DurrowDavid Gordon

Situated in the middle of its village namesake, with over 300 years of history, this is a stunning example of an Irish mansion.

The bedrooms are individually furnished with family heirlooms and each suite has a story to tell.

6. Lough Eske Castle, Co Donegal

Hidden away in a lakeside location close to Donegal Town, this turreted castle is the epitome of luxury. Long fireside chats can take place in the cosy reception rooms and guests are made to feel like part of the family.

The more active can enjoy walks along the loughshore or into the Bluestack Mountains

7. Ballynahinch Castle, Co Galway

David Gordon
Ballynahinch CastleDavid Gordon

Situated in the inspiring landscape of Connemara, and at the foot of the Twelve Bens mountains, BallynahinchCastle is found in a stunning natural landscape.

The hotel champions outdoor pursuits, such as boating, horse riding and fishing.

8. The Barbican Gatelodge, County Antrim

Described as a castle in miniature, with gothic windows and a stone turret staircase, the Barbican Gatelodge stands at the end of an old stone bridge.

The coastal views from the roof garden are exquisite on a summer evening. This self-catering accommodation is the perfect romantic hideaway.

9. Belle Isle Castle, County Fermanagh

Belle Isle Castle sits by the water’s edge of Lough Erne, in the grounds of a beautiful private island The double-vaulted entrance hall sets the scene and rooms are beautifully decorated in the style of a majestic stately home.

Guests can enjoy time on the water by hiring one of the fishing boats, or walk amongst the animal residents on some of the marked trails.

David Gordon
Belle Isle CastleDavid Gordon

10. Helen’s Tower, County Down

The ultimate romantic getaway has to be in a castle made for two.

Hidden on the edge of a winding country lane, in the middle of a forest, on the vast Clandeboye estate, this enchanting three storey tower offers outstanding views of Co Down’s rolling hills.

The self-catering accommodation is very ornate, with the Victorian history of the building referred to throughout. The views from rooftop terrace are breathtaking.