Knappogue Castle – The Guardian of Irish History (History & Travel Tips)

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If you are visiting Ireland, you need to stop at Knappogue Castle in Quin, County Clare, Ireland. It was constructed in 1467 and expanded in the middle of the 19th century. Since then, it has been renovated and is accessible to visitors today. The castle serves as a location for weddings and banquets in the Medieval style and also provides guided tours.

If you are intrigued to learn about the history of Knappogue Castle and some interesting details, continue reading the article. Below you will find answers to all your questions about Knappogue Castle, from its history to the ticket pricing to the best visiting hours to amazing tips and tricks that will make your visit to Knappogue Castle fantastic. 

During the months of October through April, you can see the castle also being turned into a wedding venue, offering private blessings in the chapel and receptions in the Great Hall.

The Back view of Knappogue Castle.
The Back view of Knappogue Castle. https://www.flickr.com/people/sitomon/, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Construction and Ownership of Knappogue Castle (15th-18th Century)

The old castle was constructed in 1467 by Seán Mac Conmara (later anglecised to MacNamara) as a defense against the invading Normans. It is a fine representation of a Late-Medieval tower house. The Irish and Anglo-Irish aristocracy preferred the original tower design of the castle as well.

From 1659 until 1661, Arthur Smith occupied the castle for a brief period of time. Knappogue was given back to the MacNamara family in 1660 when the monarchy was reinstated. Following that, the Scott family of Cahircon purchased the castle in 1800 after Francis MacNamara, High Sheriff of Clare had handed it to them in 1789. They then undertook extensive renovation and expansion work on the castle.

The tower at Knappogue Castle built by the MacNamara family.
The tower at Knappogue Castle built by the MacNamara family. Simon Huguet / Knappogue Castle

Expansion and Renovation of the Castle (19th-20th Century)

In 1855, the 14th Baron Dunboyne, Theobold Fitzwalter Butler, bought the castle. The Dunboyne family used it as their ancestral home. They added a drawing room and a west wing, which included the clock tower and the entrance. James Pain and his brother George Richard Pain, famous architects of their era, oversaw the renovations. 

When the Irish Land Commission bought Knappogue in 1927, the Irish Quinn family acquired ownership of the castle. Later, Mark Edwin Andrews from the United States bought the castle and surrounding property in 1966. 

Around 1969, he and his wife Lavonne worked with Shannon Heritage to complete another significant renovation. This was done to allow for the castle’s mixed use as a restaurant and as a private residence. After that, the Andrews leased a portion of the castle to the Irish government as a venue for the magnificent display of culture for tourists. Shannon Development bought Knappogue Castle in 1996.

The Famous Knappogue Castle Whiskey (Mid-20th Century)

You may also be familiar with the whiskey brand Knappogue Castle. In 1966, after Mark Edwin Andrews bought Knappogue Castle, he started the business of the finest single-malt Irish whiskey named for the castle. Andrews began buying whiskey in large quantities, aged the barrels much longer, and then bottled the whiskey under the Knappogue Castle brand. His final release, a 1951 vintage, is regarded as the oldest Irish whiskey currently on the market.

Classic Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey.
Classic Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey. Castle Brands Inc, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Current Times

Even in the current times, Knappogue Castle has maintained its past glory. It has been retained well by management and the visitors love to be teleported to medieval times with its vastly aged architecture and walls. The castle is popular for Medieval structures, like its famous Banquet Hall.  The castle is a favorite location for weddings as well. It offers a serene and romantic environment setting for wedding receptions. 

If you feel like you may have missed the chance of living in a castle in medieval times, then Knappogue Castle has you covered. As soon as you arrive at Knappogue Castle for the banquet, you are welcomed with honey-rich mead and live performers singing and dancing to greet the visitors and take them on a musical tour of the Middle Ages. Who doesn’t like a special and magical start to their tour? The Knappogue Castle staff does an excellent job of making you feel comfortable right to the very end of your visit.

A stunning present-day view of Knappogue castle.
A stunning present-day view of Knappogue castle. DSC_7788 flickr photo by geek4rent shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

The music continues into the banquet hall, where you get to watch traditional Irish dances and listen to Irish music. You will also get a chance to enjoy a four-course meal by candlelight in a typical medieval banquet hall with long hardwood tables and wooden seats while learning about the history of the castle. The food, companionship, and music will make your trip memorable. 

The walled garden at Knappogue Castle.
The walled garden at Knappogue Castle. Simon Huguet / Walled garden

The castle also offers a luxurious self-contained apartment that is available to rent if you want to stay longer to truly enjoy the castle experience. Up to ten guests may stay in the five bedrooms of the two-story apartment. It will be a great way to travel back in time and get to experience the Medieval era. 

Interesting Knappogue Castle Facts

There are many fascinating facts about Knappogue Castle. Below we have listed a few: 

  • The castle served as a headquarters during the War of Independence from 1912 to 1921. There were several gatherings presided over by military and political leaders at the castle.
  • During the months of October through April, you can see the castle also being turned into a wedding venue, offering private blessings in the chapel and receptions in the Great Hall.
  • The Irish name “Knappogue” means “Hill of the Kiss”. It adds to the vibe of getting married there. 

Visiting Knappogue Castle – Tips and Tricks

The Castle’s depth of historical facts will make your tour quite fascinating. Moreover, the castle offers private accommodations which will allow you to go back in time and experience the medieval age. You can also attend their well-known Medieval Banquet and tour around the grounds to truly soak in the historic atmosphere.

If you are excited to see this castle, the following advice and suggestions will help you have a comfortable trip.

Visiting tourists at Knappogue Castle.
Visiting tourists at Knappogue Castle. Knappogue Castle flickr photo by bogenfreund shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

How to get to Knappogue Castle?

It is a two-hour drive from Dublin to Knappogue Castle which will cost you around €50 ($49 USD). If you plan to travel by bus, then it would take around four and a half hours to reach the castle for around €25 ($25 USD).   It is also just 24km (15 miles) away from Shannon Airport.

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The ticket prices for both adults and children vary. For an adult, its costs €6 ($6 USD), while for children, the ticket costs €3.40 ($3 USD). There are also family tickets available, consisting of two adults and two children which cost around €14.65 ($14 USD). 

Along with basic tickets, Knappogue Castle also provides banquets all year round. The adult charges for the Knappogue Banquet are €63 ($62 USD), whereas for kids (4-10 years old) it will cost around €35 ($34 USD). 

Since the castle is privately owned by an Irish company, Shannon Development–which provides different facilities like conducting a wedding, receptions, and different business parties–the visiting hours aren’t fixed. However, for those who are touring the castle, the doors of Knappogue are often open.

The mesmerizing garden view at Knappogue Castle.
The mesmerizing garden view at Knappogue Castle. Simon Huguet / Formal garden, Knappouge

Things To Do at Knappogue Castle:

Knappogue Castle offers several opportunities to enjoy yourselves and have fun. Several of these activities include:

  • The Earl’s Butler will welcome you at the castle’s main entrance for the medieval banquet. You get to enjoy a glass of mead while mingling with the Castle Entertainers. Harp and fiddle music will be played for your enjoyment, followed by singing by a medieval choir.
  • You can truly live like an Irish Lord or a Lady at Knappogue Castle State Rooms where you can stay for a few days.
  • Falconry and archery are available on the lawns of Knappogue Castle.
  • You also can attend Irish coffee-making workshops. You can learn to make some of the best coffee in the world. 
  • Don’t forget to take a chance at hurling lessons available in the gardens of Knappogue Castle.

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It will take you around two hours to explore the castle and take part in some of the activities as well. If you want to be a part of the medieval banquet, plan to visit in the late afternoon because the banquet starts at 6:30 pm (April to October).

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • A smaller parking area is available close to the castle’s entrance, while a larger, private parking area is located behind the castle.
  • You can request a vegetarian option at the banquet. 
  • The banquet hall is wheelchair accessible.
  • Guided tours are available. You can just call and book your tour before your visit. 
  • There are a number of exhibitions available to explore as well.
  • Since the weather gets windy and rainy quite frequently, it is a good notion to carry an umbrella with you.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Knappogue Castle Areas

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Kainat Khalid
Kainat Khalid
Kainat is an English literature graduate with a profound interest in historical architecture. She has studied and explored the dusted pages of history for years which has ignited her passion to explore the existing remnants of our past glory and revisit them from a revised perspective. “There is no present without the past” is what she believes in and what drove her to begin cataloging these timeless historical monuments.

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