On the site of what was a Viking settlement, in 1204 Dublin Castle was ordered by King John of England to be developed as a medieval fortress. It was designed and built with four corner towers linked by high curtain walls around a big central enclosure. At this time the old Castle stood approximately on the site of the present Upper Castle Yard. In 1684, a major fire caused severe damage to most of the building and the Castle transitioned from a medieval bastion into a Georgian palace. The new building included a suite of grand reception rooms known as the State Apartments. These spaces accommodated the Viceroy (the British Monarch’s appointed person to look after Ireland) and were the focus of great state occasions - state balls, banquets and regal ceremonies for members of the aristocracy. In the early nineteenth century the Chapel Royal was added in the Lower Castle Yard. On 16 January 1922, the last ever Viceroy of Ireland handed Dublin Castle over to Michael Collins and the government of the newly-independent state of Ireland in the wake of the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence. Since that historic handover, the Castle was used in a new tradition of state ceremony such as important national events …state dinners and commemorations. Since 1938, each one of Ireland’s presidents has been inaugurated in St Patrick’s Hall, the largest of the State Apartments.
Throughout its history, those entertained at Dublin Castle included Benjamin Franklin (1771), the Duke of Wellington (1807), Daniel O’Connell (1841), Queen Victoria (1849, 1853, 1861 & 1900), Charles Dickens (1864), Countess Markievicz (1905), Princess Grace of Monaco (1961), John F. Kennedy (1963), Charles de Gaulle (1969), Nelson Mandela (1990) and Queen Elizabeth II (2011). Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, worked in the Castle from 1866 to 1878.
Open: Monday – Sunday & Bank Holidays: 9:45 – 17:45 (last admission 17:15)
Closed: 25th, 26th & 27th December, and 1st January