There are Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland, and then there’s the powerful Trim Castle. Located in the hills of County Meath, this massive, 12th-century fortress and castle is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, and features a 20-sided building at the castle’s center in a uniquely cruciform shape. This building was surrounded by a ditch and a moat—both of which were needed to protect residents from the frequent outside attacks—since during the late 1100s when the castle was built, the area around Trim was the farthest frontier of English expansion into Ireland. Beyond these walls were Gaelic Irish, and the number of battles that took place in these hills is evidenced by the number of headless remains that have been excavated from the soggy ground. Though the castle today appears somewhat run down when standing and viewing from afar, visitors who take a tour of the interior will find themselves in a stone compound that’s stood for 900 years. Here amid the cold gray stones, where war, struggle, and harsh living conditions were an everyday part of life, the sense of rugged, historical chill is so powerful and potently felt, that the castle was used to film parts of the Hollywood classic, Braveheart.
Trim Castle is located in the town of Trim about 50 minutes from Dublin. Admission to the castle is $4 for adults, $2 for children, and the interior is accessible by guided tour only. In summer, the castle is open from 10am-6pm, with the last tour at 5pm. In October and November the castle closes as 5:30pm, and from November-Easter the castle is open from 10am-5pm, but only on weekends and holidays.