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Aran Inspired

Swords Castle and Park

Located at the end of the main street of the North County Dublin suburb of Swords, this medieval castle was the residence of the archbishops of Dublin. Today its park extends over 220 acres, boasting picnic areas, pleasant tree-lined walkways, a babbling brook, a public playground, sports pitches and both public and private tennis courts. Recently restored (the walls, not the interior rooms), admission to Swords Castle and the adjoining park is FREE.

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Castlewellan Castle and Forest Park

The large granite manor house at Castlewellan, County Down, was built by William Annesley in 1856. Overlooking a lake, and with magnificent views of the Mourne Mountains, it boasts a castellated architectural style known as Scottish Baronial. The house currently serves as a private conference centre for Christian groups. The rest of the estate was designated as Castlewellan Forest Park in 1969.

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Benburb Valley Park

Benburb Valley Park is situated on the River Blackwater near the pretty village of Benburb, in County Tyrone, close to the border with on the border between County Armagh. Set in a scenic gorge created by the Blackwater, the park offers wonderful countryside trails for walking and hiking. The entrance to the park is situated about 10km (7 miles) from the city of Armagh, and 10km ( 7 miles) from the town of Dungannon.

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Carlow Castle

A large and impressive fragment of this 13th century castle still sits prominently in Carlow town centre, close to the River Barrow. What remains is half of the original castle keep -- the fortified, turreted tower where its medieval occupants lived and slept --  but it is enough to give a sense of how majestic this building must once have been.

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Ballaghmore Castle

Built in 1480 by the MacGiollaphadraig / Fitzpatricks of Borris-in-Ossory, this small but beautiful castle is nestled in picturesque Irish countryside. It is located in County Laois, on the Bealach Mor (Bay-lock More), or the road to Munster. For many years, Ballaghmore Castle, which is situated on 30 peaceful acres, was long used as a granary, having severely ravaged in 1647 during Cromwell's invasion of Ireland. In 1990, the castle was privately purchased, restored to much of its former glory, and is today open to the public, and rented out to visitors.

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Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle is situated on a small, rocky island in the River Suir in County Tipperary – a natural spot for fortified structures since the third century. With many stairways and passageways to explore, Cahir is one of Ireland's largest and better preserved castle ruins.  Its proud facade has provided the distinctive settings for the movies such as Barry Lyndon and Excalibur.

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Athlone Castle and Visitors Centre

Built in 1210, Athlone castle is today a audio-visual museum, and one of the most popular attractions in the town that lies in right in the centre of Ireland. Today recognized as a national monument, Athlone Castle served for centuries as a military barracks. The oldest walls of the castle, surviving from medieval times, are enclosed in glass to preserve their integrity.

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Eniskillen Castle Museums

Blog PostsIn the town of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, this strategic and well-preserved stronghold today houses two museums -- the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Regimental Museum and the Fermanagh County Museum. Fermanagh County Museum opened its doors in 1977. It features award-winning exhibits depicting County Fermanagh’s rich history and archaeological treasures, and covers topics like the Viking invasions, the plantation period, and World War II. The Inniskillings Museum displays uniforms, weapons, photos and artwork related to the local military regiment, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers -- including the bugle used in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.

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Leamaneh Castle

Leamaneh Castle is the imposing ruin of a mansion house located between Corofin and Kilfenora in the region known as The Burren in County Clare. Built around 1480, and alternatively spelled as "Leamanagh" Castle, it was originally a five-story tower house. These fortified homes, with castellated features, were popular with Norman gentry in the western regions of Ireland during the middle ages. The castle stands on the corner of a three-way intersection on the southern end of the Burren, where limestone is plentiful. The tower has a spiral staircase, small chambers, and narrow windows that are little more than slits. In 1902, the gates were removed from Leamaneh and taken to Dromoland Castle, as the manor home had fallen into disrepair.

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Parkes Castle

Parkes Castle sits proudly on the shoreline of Lough Gill at Five Mile Burren, just outside the town of Dromahair in County Leitrim, and only a few miles from Sligo town. The splendour of this 17th century castle can be seen from a distance as you approach it, by driving around the lake. Restored in the last decade to its youthful glory, the castle encloses a fortified manor house, which forms one part of its defensive walls (two of which feature round turrets). Rising three stories high right against the lake shore, the stone building also boasts wide mullioned windows and gabled roofs. The interior of the castle was restored using traditional methods of fine workmanship in Irish oak.

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