ballycarbery castle

Ballycarbery Castle: Ireland’s Ancient Ruins Revisited

As one of Ireland’s ancient ruins, Ballycarbery Castle stands as a testament to a bygone era. Nestled within the lush landscapes of County Kerry, this castle’s ruins offer the perfect opportunity for exploration and discovery.

In this article, we invite you to join us as we delve into the history and mysteries of Ballycarbery Castle. From exploring the castle’s ruins to uncovering its folklore and legends, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide to this cultural landmark.

Key Takeaways:

  • Explore the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle and immerse yourself in its captivating atmosphere.
  • Discover the history of this ancient castle and its significance in Ireland’s heritage.
  • Uncover the fascinating tales and folklore surrounding Ballycarbery Castle.
  • Witness the beauty of the castle’s ruins and picturesque surroundings.
  • Discover lesser-known features and hidden gems within the castle’s walls.

Exploring the Ruins of Ballycarbery Castle

Stepping into the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle is like stepping back in time. The castle’s impressive stone walls, archways, and towers offer a glimpse of the past and a testament to its former grandeur.

As you explore the castle, you will notice the intricate details of its architectural design. The castle’s four towers, once used as lookout points and for defense, stand tall against the test of time.

The castle’s interior layout is equally fascinating. It was built in the shape of a square with a courtyard in the center, complete with a well. The castle also boasted a great hall, kitchens, living quarters, and even a chapel.

Be sure to also take note of the surrounding landscape. Built on a rocky hill, the castle overlooks a sweeping view of the vast countryside and the sea in the distance. It’s easy to imagine the strategic advantage this location offered, making the castle a valuable asset during its time.

Exploring Ballycarbery Castle

To fully appreciate the castle’s magnificence, we recommend taking a guided tour with a local expert. They will provide historical context and share stories that will transport you back in time.

Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring a camera to capture the stunning views and architectural details. As you explore the ruins, take a moment to reflect on the castle’s rich history and imagine what life was like during its prime.

Join us in the next section as we discuss the strategic location of Ballycarbery Castle and how it played a role in Ireland’s defense and control during ancient times.

The Strategic Location of Ballycarbery Castle

Located in County Kerry, Ballycarbery Castle’s strategic location on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea is one of the reasons it was built in its specific spot. From this vantage point, defenders had a clear view of the surrounding area, making it an important stronghold during ancient times.

The castle’s proximity to the water also made it easier to transport goods and supplies, contributing to its strategic importance in trade and commerce.

Ballycarbery Castle’s location on the edge of the Ring of Kerry also played a role in Ireland’s defense and control during ancient times. The Ring of Kerry was a heavily traveled route, and controlling access to it was crucial in maintaining power and authority in the region.

“Ballycarbery Castle’s location on the edge of the Ring of Kerry also played a role in Ireland’s defense and control during ancient times.”

Today, visitors can explore the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle and appreciate the strategic significance of its location. With sweeping views of the surrounding sea and countryside, it’s easy to see why this castle was chosen as an important stronghold in ancient times.

Unraveling the History of Ballycarbery Castle

Ballycarbery Castle has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century. It was built by the McCarthy Clan, who were one of the most powerful families in Southwest Ireland, specifically in County Kerry.

The castle played an important role in Irish history and was the site of many conflicts over the years. During the Nine Years’ War, it was occupied by the Spanish and served as a base for their troops. In 1652, it was besieged and destroyed by the Cromwellian forces during the Confederate Wars. Later, in the 18th century, Ballycarbery Castle became the property of the Butler family, who used it as a hunting lodge.

Today, the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle stand tall as a reminder of its turbulent past and the various occupants who shaped its legacy. Visitors can explore the castle’s towers and walls, which hold many secrets and stories within their ancient stones.

The McCarthy Clan and Ballycarbery Castle

The McCarthy Clan was a prominent family that played a significant role in Irish history, especially in County Kerry. They were known for their leadership and military prowess, and Ballycarbery Castle was one of the many castles they had built to protect their land and people.

According to legend, the castle was built by a chieftain of the McCarthy clan who had slain a giant named Cárthach. The castle was named after the giant, and the name “Ballycarbery” means “Cárthach’s town” in Gaelic.

The Spanish Occupation

During the Nine Years’ War (1594-1603), Ballycarbery Castle was occupied by the Spanish, who used it as a base for their troops. The castle was considered strategically important because it was located near the coast and could be used as a landing point for Spanish ships.

The Spanish occupation was short-lived, and the castle went back to the McCarthy Clan after they were defeated by the English forces.

The Cromwellian Siege

In 1652, Ballycarbery Castle was besieged and destroyed by the Cromwellian forces during the Confederate Wars. The castle was left in ruins, and it was eventually abandoned by the McCarthy Clan.

The Butler Family and Ballycarbery Castle

In the 18th century, Ballycarbery Castle became the property of the Butler family, who used it as a hunting lodge. They added a small house to the castle, which was later used as a residence by the local priest.

Today, Ballycarbery Castle’s ruins remain a testament to its storied past and the various occupants who shaped its history. Visitors can explore the castle’s ruins and immerse themselves in the rich heritage of this ancient landmark.

Folktales and Legends Surrounding Ballycarbery Castle

Ballycarbery Castle is not just a historic ruin, but it is also a place that is steeped in folklore and legend. Over the centuries, stories have been passed down through generations, adding a touch of mystery to the castle’s allure.

“Legend has it that Ballycarbery Castle was built by a giant, who carried the stones from the nearby mountains himself. Some say that the giant still roams the castle walls at night, protecting it from harm.”

Another tale tells of a hidden treasure buried somewhere within the castle walls. Many have searched for it, but it has never been found. Some say that the spirits of the castle’s former inhabitants guard the treasure, and that only the pure of heart will be able to find it.

There are also stories of ghostly apparitions being spotted in and around the castle. Some believe that these phantoms are the restless souls of former occupants who met tragic ends within the castle’s walls.

Despite the mystery and intrigue surrounding Ballycarbery Castle, it remains a popular destination for visitors looking to explore Ireland’s rich cultural heritage. Whether you come to immerse yourself in its fascinating history or to uncover its hidden secrets, Ballycarbery Castle is sure to leave a lasting impression.

The Beauty of Ballycarbery Castle Today

Although Ballycarbery Castle lies in ruins, it still exudes a captivating charm that draws visitors from far and wide. The castle’s weathered walls and crumbling structures offer a glimpse into its rich history and add to its character. Exploring the ruins of this ancient castle is a treat for history buffs and photography enthusiasts alike.

Over the years, various restoration efforts have been made to preserve Ballycarbery Castle’s heritage. These include the installation of safety measures and the stabilizing of some of its walls and towers. As a result, visitors can now explore the castle grounds with greater ease and peace of mind, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.

The castle’s surroundings are just as charming, with picturesque views of the Irish countryside and nearby waterways. From the top of the castle walls, visitors can indulge in panoramic views of the stunning landscape and appreciate the castle’s strategic positioning.

Discovering Ballycarbery Castle’s Hidden Gems

While Ballycarbery Castle’s stunning ruins are a sight to behold, there are many hidden gems within the castle that visitors may miss. Exploring beyond the main attractions can add a unique and immersive experience to your visit.

One such gem is the castle’s underground tunnels. These tunnels are located beneath the castle and were likely used for storage and even smuggling during the castle’s occupation. The tunnels are not open to the public but can be viewed from above ground.

Another hidden feature within the castle is the well-preserved spiral staircase that leads to the upper chambers. Take a moment to appreciate the impressive architectural design and imagine what it would have been like to climb these stairs during the castle’s prime.

Finally, visitors can also explore the castle’s exterior, which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Take a walk around the castle walls and soak in the breathtaking scenery.

Exploring these hidden gems adds a level of excitement to any visit to Ballycarbery Castle. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to uncover the secrets of this ancient ruin.

Exploring Ballycarbery Castle’s Surroundings

While a visit to Ballycarbery Castle is undoubtedly a highlight of any trip to Ireland, taking the time to explore the surrounding area is equally rewarding. There are plenty of sights to see and activities to enjoy in the vicinity of this ancient ruin.

Nearby Attractions

For nature lovers, a walk along the stunning Cahergal and Leacanabuile Stone Forts is a must-do. These twin forts offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, and a sense of wonder as you imagine the life of the ancient Celts who built them.

If you’re looking for something more serene, the nearby Reencaheragh Strand is the perfect spot for a relaxing stroll along the beach or a picnic.

Scenic Viewpoints

For those seeking to capture the perfect scenic shot, Ballycarbery Castle offers plenty of opportunities. The walk up to the castle ruins provides breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the rolling hills of County Kerry.

Another great viewpoint is the nearby Valentia Island, which features unbeatable panoramic views of the Kerry coastline and the Skellig Islands.


If you’re looking for a more active experience, there are plenty of options available near Ballycarbery Castle. Cycling along the quiet country roads is a great way to take in the stunning scenery, while horseback riding and fishing are also popular pursuits.

If you’re up for a challenge, consider hiking up to Geokaun Mountain and taking in the breathtaking views from the summit.

With so much to see and do in the area, a visit to Ballycarbery Castle can easily turn into a multi-day adventure.


As we conclude our journey through the ancient ruins of Ballycarbery Castle, we hope that you have gained a deeper appreciation for this historical landmark. With its rich history, strategic location, and enchanting folklore, the castle presents a window into the past that is hard to resist.

Beyond its ruins, the castle’s aesthetic appeal and hidden gems make for a truly immersive experience. The breathtaking surroundings only add to the charm, making it an ideal destination for those seeking history and natural beauty.

We encourage you to visit Ballycarbery Castle and discover its allure for yourself. As you explore its ruins and surroundings, let your imagination run wild and transport you to a time long gone.


Q: What is the significance of Ballycarbery Castle?

A: Ballycarbery Castle is one of Ireland’s ancient ruins and holds great historical and cultural importance.

Q: What can I expect when exploring the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle?

A: When exploring the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle, you can expect to see fascinating architectural features and get a glimpse into the castle’s layout.

Q: Why was Ballycarbery Castle strategically located?

A: Ballycarbery Castle was strategically located for defense purposes and played a crucial role in Ireland’s history.

Q: What is the history of Ballycarbery Castle?

A: The history of Ballycarbery Castle dates back to ancient times and is filled with significant events and various occupants who shaped its legacy.

Q: Are there any folktales or legends associated with Ballycarbery Castle?

A: Yes, Ballycarbery Castle is surrounded by enchanting folklore and legends that add to its allure and mystery.

Q: How does Ballycarbery Castle look today?

A: Ballycarbery Castle is now in ruins, but it still retains its aesthetic appeal and offers a glimpse into the past.

Q: Are there any hidden gems to discover within Ballycarbery Castle?

A: Yes, Ballycarbery Castle holds hidden gems and lesser-known features that provide a more unique and immersive experience.

Q: What else can I explore around Ballycarbery Castle?

A: Beyond the castle, you can also explore the beautiful surrounding landscape, nearby attractions, viewpoints, and activities that complement your visit.

Q: What is the significance of Ballycarbery Castle as a historical and cultural landmark?

A: Ballycarbery Castle is a significant historical and cultural landmark in Ireland, reflecting the country’s rich heritage and captivating allure.