Dublin Castle has played a pivotal role in Irish history and government for over a millennium. In the 9th century the Vikings established a hill fort on the site. It was replaced with a Norman castle in 1204. All that now remains of the 13th century castle is the Record Tower. Dame Street / Dublin 2
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Dublin Castle stands pround in the centre of Dublin, and has been in constant occupation since 1204. Originally a Viking settlement, Dublin actually got its name from the then nearby Dubh Linn, or Black Pool which the Vikings used to harbour their longboats . The lake is now gone, and its site is now a small public gardens called the Castle Gardens (quite the sun trap on a nice day). The castle itself has gone through many changes over the years, with only a small corner of the original site still visible today.
Being in the middle of Dublin, there is no dedicated parking, or nearby parking to be had, but its loaction in the centre of the city, just off Dame Street, combined with an excellent tram service (called the Luas) running from all main bus and train depots to the centre, make it easy to get to by foot. It is open from 10am - 4.45pm Monday - Saturday, and 12pm - 4.45pm Sundays and holidays.
All visits to the site need to be with an official tour guide (unless you just want to walk into the courtyard and view the exterior) Tour prices are reasonable with adults going for Euro4.50, students Euro3.50, and kids under 12 Euro2.00, under 6 yrs old go free. However on our visit to the city, we were lucky to take advantage of their free access every first Wednesday of the month.
The location of the Ticket office isnt particularly obvious from the front courtyard, but it is pretty much opposite from the main gate entrance. The office and waiting rooms themselves were looking a little bit tatty, but nothing a lick of paint couldnt solve.
Unfortunately, at the time of our tour there was actually a lot of painting going on in the castle. as it was getting a bit of a facelift, which ment some rooms had scaffolding up, and the odd tradesman walking around. This did spoil the tour a little, but these things have to be done at some time, although you have to wonder if mid-summer really is the best period of the year for renovations?
The tour starts in the state appartments, and runs through some of the various rooms, all the while the guide brought us up to speed with the castles relevence to its history, and specifically the rebellions leading up to independence. many rooms are as they were, or at least an approximation of their original purpose. The building contains a lot of history, with many fine artworks, decorative ceilings, and original furniture still there.
As the castle is still occupied for government use, many of the rooms have been converted for official and state use, so have been altered from their original purpose, but are certainly still very grand and stately in appearance.
I cant help but wish we got to see more of the interior, but it is possible that the ongoing construction works maybe barred certain rooms from the public? However many parts of the castle are barred from the public at all time anyway, due to its official role.
Although the state appartments were interesting, the part of the tour I really enjoyed was the visit to the undercroft, the second half of the tour. This bings you underground, down to the very foundations of the original castle, and its walls, which used to define the boundaries of the old city. You can see the remains of one of the circular towers which used to stand at the corners of the castle (only one still remains intact and visible). I am maybe biased due to a love of ancient castles and ruins, but even this small insight to the roots of the area were far more stirring than the state rooms.
Overall, although the castle is worth a look, I was slightly dissapionted with the tour, it was not as in-depth as I would have hoped, but our trip was possibly marred by the construction work. The undercroft is certainly worth waiting for to visit anyway.
Dublin Castle was a real insight into the development of Dublin and how the city has evolved. The only way to see the castle is via a guided tour, this we found somewhat annoying as we wanted to look around the castle in our own time. However, the guided tour was very interesting and gave us a much needed insight into the castle and the history. The guide was very knowledgeable. Some rooms in the castle were laid out as they would have been, but others had been transformed into meeting rooms as the castle is a working governmental building. In my humble opinion the best part of the tour of the castle was when we toured the underground parts of the castle. I would recommend it, especially if you are interested in history and the cultural development of other countries. The architecture of the castle is very beautiful and the grounds are also very pretty,
A visit to Dublin Castle is enhanced by the tour guides. You wait in a reception room, for the appointed time, and then a guide joins you for a very professional group tour to share a look back in time, with a difference.
What sets Dublin Castle apart from others is that it is still used as a seat of power. It is a visitor attraction but government and council business is operating from there all the time.
The guide takes you to the room where the European Union meets when it is Ireland's turn to host meetings. This really does bring it all up to the modern day.
A highlight at Dublin Castle is the State Apartments, and a close second is the Chapel Royal which is absolutely fabulous. Dublin Castle is also the home of the Garda Police Museum.
At the end of the tour you can opt for a guided visit to the undercroft and I do recommend this as you learn about how the castle evolved, structures and even how the stores were brought into the castle by boats from the river which flowed right up to the castle.
The background information on the role Dublin Castle has played in the evolution of Dublin and Ireland is of really high standard. There's so much to learn here and I suggest it is ideal for families and educational tours.
While I was there I never thought I'd be writing a review about it so this may seem short on detail. Sorry.
It is open every day but the hours are shorter on the weekend, just the afternoons, from memory.
Getting there is easy. It is in the centre of Dublin and you only walk a small distance and signage leads you to what I consider an impressive, working castle and conference venue.
It is presented with real passion, commitment to history and a pride in the role it has played in Ireland's evolution.
Dublin Castle is worthy of your time and travel investment money, put it on your must-see list.