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Rising from the green hilltops of Cork, ancient castles overlook rolling meadows and miles of coastal scenery. Shrouded in Gaelic history and Celtic legend, castles are a unique feature of Cork’s spectacular landscapes. To guide you through the best, we’ve put together this list of must-visit castles in and around Ireland’s County Cork.
The crumbling remains of Kanturk Castle, a ruined 17th-century mansion, are stunningly atmospheric. Influenced by Tudor and Renaissance styles, with a traditional Irish castellated eastern entrance, Kanturk once provided a defence against English settlers. Now, it stands bleakly empty, surrounded by forest. Located 1.5km (0.9mi) from the pretty market town of Kanturk, and 50km (31mi) from Cork’s capital, it’s an easy day trip from the city. Set aside an hour or so to explore the castle ruins and the bucolic surroundings, and stop off in Kanturk for cosy pubs and friendly restaurants.
A stunning example of a 15th-century tower house, the Norman-influenced Barryscourt Castle provided a home to the noble family of Norman de Barry for centuries. The well-maintained fortress features original towers, with antique interiors, and a fragrant herb garden. Request a tour of the site to get your bearings on the beauty of this modestly sized ‘domestic’ castle. Situated in the east of Cork, near the pint-sized town of Carrigtwohill, Barryscourt Castle takes around an hour to explore – located roughly 14km (9mi) from Cork’s capital.