Discover the island’s most storied locations

Fancy delving into Ireland’s fascinating history and legends? Add some of these incredible sites to your itinerary!

Northern Ireland’s Dunluce Castle is possibly one of the most dramatic places on earth, where 14th-century castle ruins are perched 100ft/30m above the wild ocean. Over the years, Dunluce has borne tales of wailing banshees, smugglers, and tragic lovers. In the 17th century, part of the castle simply crumbled into the sea during a monumental storm. Nowadays, Dunluce is in ruins, but it’s still utterly stunning.

If you’re looking for a historical site in Belfast with a dark past, head to Crumlin Road Gaol. For 150 years, the gaol was one of the most intimidating places in Northern Ireland, housing over 25,000 prisoners. Today, it’s a fascinating museum and a great place to get under the skin of the city, with guided tours walking you through over a century of history – and some paranormal experiences…

For paranormal activity, go to Ireland’s Ancient EastCastle Roche in County Louth was once the home of Lady Rohesia de Verdun. She had promised her hand in marriage to the man who could build her the stronghold of her dreams. On her wedding night, she invited her new husband to join her at the great window of their bridal chamber. He felt her hand on his shoulder and as he turned to kiss her, she pushed him out of the window to his death, so that he couldn’t share her wealth. It’s said that you can sometimes spot his ghost walking among the ruins lamenting what might have been.

In County Carlow, Duckett’s Grove was once a hive of activity but was doomed when William Duckett’s secret lover died after she fell from her horse. Her mother was devastated and put a curse on the family in the terrifying form of a banshee, a wailing female entity. If you hear her cry, it’s said that you’ll suffer the death of a loved one. Visitors have reported seeing other ghosts roam the house and grounds of Duckett’s Grove, as well as strange lights and noises.

Have you heard of Ireland’s pirate queen, Grace O’Malley? Grace was a fearsome, notorious leader who ruled the seas along the Wild Atlantic Way. In 1574, the English sent an expedition to her fortress, Rockfleet Castle, to end her maritime exploits. The tower house castle was under siege for days, but the pirate queen and her 200 men turned the tables, and the hunters became the hunted… Situated on the edge of Clew Bay, this historic stronghold remains an incredible sight to behold.

Doe Castle in County Donegal was built by the MacSweeney clan in the early 16th century. Situated on the shores of Sheephaven Bay, this ancient fortress has seen many battles and sieges throughout the centuries but now stands as a peaceful slice of history on this beautiful stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way. The grounds are open each day from dawn to dusk and guided tours of the castle are available daily in July and August.

Which of these historical gems would you love to visit on your next trip to Ireland?

You'll feel the dramatic past of Dunluce Castle in County Antrim
You’ll feel the dramatic past of Dunluce Castle in County Antrim, © Tourism Ireland.

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