A Trip To The Dublin Castle: Is It Worth It?

James

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle, with its location at the highest point in Dublin, had a significant impact on Irish history. The history of this castle dates back to the Viking times, with the castle itself constructed in the thirteenth century. It is located in the city centre off Dame Street, near City Hall, and is a 5-minute walk from Trinity College. The castle consists of multiple buildings from different centuries. Parts and highlights of the castle include the State Apartments, St Patrick’s Hall, the medieval undercroft of the old castle, and the Chapel Royal.

The Story Behind the Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

The Dublin castle was originally built by the Vikings as a fortress until 1204 when it became the seat of the United Kingdom Government’s administration in Ireland. Dublin Castle was the seat of the English until the founding of the Irish Free State in 1922 when the complex was officially handed over to the newly formed government led by Michael Collins.

While under British rule in Ireland for 700 years, the castle was used for ceremonies and as a place of residence for the Viceroys (deputies of the British Monarch) and court. Now that Ireland is an independent country, the castle is used for the inaugurations of presidents and other official events. Dublin Castle is now a major Irish government complex.

Touring the castle

Inside The Dublin Castle

The available options to tour the castle include the Guided Tour for one hour and the Self Guided Tour for about 30 minutes. The places open to visitors include the State Apartments, the Chapel Royal, and the medieval underground excavation. However, some places like the chapel and going underground to see the medieval excavation are only available to visit on a guided tour. For the self-guided tours, brochures are available in 17 languages to help navigate the state apartments and exhibitions. Here are some historical points within the castle;

The State Apartments

Following a fire in 1684 that demolished parts of the Castle, the  State Apartments were built as the residential quarters of the English rulers at the Upper Castle Yard. The president of Ireland now uses the state apartments as a venue to host visiting heads of state and EU ministers for state functions, exhibitions, and other events. The State Apartments may be explored by guided tour or self-guided. They are also closed for official purposes occasionally 

St Patrick’s Hall

St Patrick’s Hall, the largest chamber of the state apartments, is currently used for official events. It is where Irish presidents are now inaugurated and foreign dignitaries are acknowledged. 

The Record Tower

Also called the medieval tower, the record tower is one of the oldest buildings from the 13th century left on the site. It is located in the lower Castle Yard. The Record Tower is the largest and only original building left since fires led to the destruction of most of the original buildings. 

The Chester Beatty Library

It was initially the private library of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty and is now a museum and library that showcases international cultures with a collection of manuscripts, rare books, and other treasures from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. It is housed in the eighteenth-century Clock Tower Building.

The Dublin Gardens

The  Gardens are on the South side of the Chapel Royal. These gardens most likely date back to the 17th century.  The Gardens feature a Garda Memorial garden that is dedicated to the Irish police who lost their lives on duty.

Dublin Castle Restaurant

The Castle Restaurant, Terrace Café offers aesthetic views of the Castle Gardens. It is located on the ground floor in the State Apartments of Dublin Castle.

Medieval underground excavation

The Medieval underground excavation is the ruins of the original castle from the 13th century built by the Vikings. Stairways and walkways have been created, so visitors access the historic ruins without causing any damage. A part of the Dublin city walls and the River Poddle that flows beneath the city can be seen on site.

Chapel Royal

Chapel Royal has been renamed the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. It features galleries and coloured windows decorated with coats of arms that represent past Ireland’s Viceroys. 

Dublin Castle’s well-preserved history offers a fascinating and informative destination, making it gain a spot on the list of the top 20 things to do in Dublin.

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