Oldest Buildings in Ireland That Defy Time

Aside from its beautiful scenery, the oldest buildings in Ireland are another icon of the country. Starting from the prehistoric hunter-gatherers, Celts, Romans, Vikings, Normans, and the English all left their architectural marks on the country. While some of these buildings are from the medieval ages, some of them date back to ancient times.

Newgrange / 3200 BC

Newgrange tombs are arguably the most interesting structure in Ireland and one of the oldest buildings in the country, if not the oldest. The tombs date back to 3200 BC, making them older than even the pyramids and Stonehenge. Moreover, Newgrange perfectly aligns with the winter solstice sunrise.

newgrange tombs of the oldest buildings in ireland

Newgrange served as an underground tomb to its builders. Archeologists found burnt and unburnt bones indicating that cremation was also used. Furthermore, many historians believe that Newgrange was more than a tomb. Some believe that it was the center of a mysterious cult that worshipped the sun, moon, and stars.

newgrange carved stones
La storia perduta

Knowth / 3200 BC

Just a little further from Newgrange, there is the Knowth tomb, which is one of the oldest buildings in Ireland dating back to ancient times. While they are located in the same area, Knowth and Newgrange tombs are a little different. The Knowth tomb has two passageways that lead to separate chambers.

knowth tombs of the oldest buildings in ireland

Aside from the underground passages, Knowth is home to many megalithic art. On the site, there are more than 200 decorated stones. Further excavations revealed that Knowth was a place for religious rituals and worship in addition to being a tomb.

knowth underground passages
Mic Rawls

Christ Church Cathedral / 1030

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin is one of the oldest cathedrals both in Dublin and the United Kingdom. It was built by the Viking king Sitric Silkenbeard in the early 11th century. It is located in the heart of Dublin and is one of the two most important religious places in the city.

christ church cathedral of the oldest buildings in ireland

The cathedral saw many changes until it took its final form today. The religious reforms and political changes in the United Kingdom both affected the cathedral in many ways. While the cathedral was in ruins in the 1530s, after centuries of renovations, it became Dublin’s icon again in the 1870s.

the cathedral exterior
Julie Hargrove-Crossman

Killyleagh Castle / 1180

One of the oldest castles in Ireland that are still in use, Killyleagh Castle is an important icon of Northern Ireland. Its original construction dates back to the late 12th century which started with the Norman knight John de Courcy.

killyleagh castle of the oldest buildings in ireland
Aart Jonkers

While the castle was just a series of fortifications, it grew and developed over the years. In the 17th century, the area on which the castle stood was divided into three by King James I. Since then, the castle has been home to the Hamilton family, one of the noble families in the United Kingdom.

killyleagh entrance

Ashford Castle / 1228

Built by the members of the House of Burke in 1228, Ashford Castle shows traces of both medieval and Victorian architecture. For 300 hundred years, the castle was home to the Burkes but after a battle with the English Richard Bingham, the Ashford Castle passed onto him.

ashford castle of the oldest buildings in ireland
Alexandra Yorston

The castle experienced the most drastic change when it was bought by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness. Guinness transformed the castle into a Victorian estate by adding two towers, enlarging the area, building roads, and planting thousands of trees. Today, the castle operates as one of the most luxurious hotels in Ireland.

ashford castle from above
Ashford Castle