Visit Trim Castle

After a very special welcome, I’m able to go inside one of Ireland’s best historic castles.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Visiting Trim Castle from Dublin

Built almost 1000 years ago, Trim Castle is the largest Anglo-Norman fortification in Ireland and one of the most important historical sights in the country.

Visiting Trim Castle is a fascinating look into the heritage of Ireland and an easy day trip from Dublin - so here's what you need to know.

“Welcome to Trim Castle! It’s a pleasure to have you here!”

The knight in (somewhat) shining armour gives a broad smile. I’m sure there’s a bit of a twinkle there too. He has kind eyes – not what you would expect from a man in a uniform for war.

“I’m not Sir Lancelot,” he explains. “I’m Sir Laugh-a-Lot!” And he gives off an unnaturally hearty laugh, throwing his head backwards. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

It turns out that’s not his real name (just to clear that up, in case you were wondering). In fact, this is 72 year old local Vincent Adair.

His wife passed away last Christmas and he decided he didn’t want to spend his days alone. So, of his own initiative, he started dressing up as a knight and waiting outside Trim Castle to greet tourists.

Trim Castle, Ireland

He gives them a brochure, tells them a bit about the site, poses for photo and even knights them himself. He’s become a bit of a celebrity.

“It’s good for visitors because you can get a laugh and take a photograph home with you,” he tells me.

“It’s long overdue because if you come from all parts of the world, it’s nice to have a laugh.”

Trim Castle, Ireland

There certainly are a lot of people who visit Trim Castle, which is one of the best sights of historic Ireland – and is easily accessible from Dublin.

If you’re interested in visiting Trim Castle from Dublin, I would recommend this excellent day tour that combines the best historic sights in the region.

And it seems it attracts quite a lot of actors too. In 1994 it was used as a set for the filming of the movie Braveheart with Mel Gibson.

The outer walls were turned into the city of York in the thirteenth century. The inner keep became the Tower of London where Gibson’s character, William Wallace, was executed.

Hundreds of locals were hired as extras and other parts of the city were also used for other scenes.

Trim Castle, Ireland

Although Ireland had little to do with the struggle the Scottish were having with the English, there are obvious parallels. The castle here at Trim played a role in the early days of Anglo-Irish conflict.

Visiting Trim Castle is a good opportunity to delve into some of this history that was playing out almost a millennium ago.

History of Trim Castle

The first iteration of Trim Castle was built in 1173 as a fortress from which to protect the ‘kingdom’ of Meath that had been declared by the English King Henry II.

The problem was, the kingdom was only in name. So the first thing the new rulers had to do was actually capture the land that they were going to control.

Trim Castle, Ireland

From then on, for centuries, Trim Castle played an important role in the history of the country and the seemingly never-ending conflicts that moved parcels of land between the English and the Irish and between different ruling nobles within each of the nationalities.

The castle was strategically placed close enough to Dublin that it was also used as an advance defence of the capital.

Trim Castle, Ireland

Visiting today, you can see the shell of the castle’s final iteration. A tall and solid box rising from the hill, intimidating from a distance and impenetrable up close.

Things to see inside Trim Castle

When you do go inside – as you can do with a guided tour – you realise that most of the interior is missing. The floors of the different levels would have been made of wood, so they have disappeared with time.

That means most of the main rooms in the central part of the keep are also gone.

Trim Castle, Ireland

But you can stand in the middle and look up and around. And you can use the old staircases and new walkways to move upwards and look into the sections on the sides that were once bedrooms or kitchens or chapels.

Trim Castle, Ireland

What amazes me are all the medieval techniques used in the design for defence. Such simple things that are also so clever and effective.

Putting the main door above ground level with a wooden staircase that can be burned…

Windows designed for archery…

Spiral staircases that give the men coming down the advantage of having their swords in the right hands.

Trim Castle, Ireland
Trim Castle, Ireland

I find the guided tour to be excellent with a great insight into the life of the people who lived here.

There was a period when they used to hang their clothes above the pile of excrement from the toilets, for instance. Apparently the gases would kill the bugs in the material. (I’m not too sure about the smell, though.)

Trim Castle, Ireland

As I leave, I wonder how the tour inside Trim Castle would have been if it had been led by Sir Laugh-a-lot. He’s busy helping a local ranger find the driver of a bus, while some tourists wait to have a photo.

It’s probably best he’s out here, not inside. He’s the perfect first impression for a castle full of character.

Visiting Trim Castle

Although you can easily access it from different parts of northeastern Ireland, most people visit Trim Castle from Dublin, usually as a day trip that includes other sights in the region.

With traffic, it takes about an hour to drive to Trim Castle from central Dublin. There is public transport but it takes about double as long, so that’s something to consider if you’re short of time.

If you don’t have a car, I would actually recommend this excellent day tour from Dublin, which is good value because it also includes three other attractions.

Or there are a few other options here, including private tours:

You can see the outside of Trim Castle for free and I recommend checking out a few of the different vantage points to get a variety of perspectives – especially from the other side of the river.

But to go inside, you need to take one of the official guided tours. Don’t worry, though – they’re not expensive and they’re run regularly throughout the day.

Having said that, though, it can get busy during the summer holiday periods so the earlier you arrive, the better.

The tour takes about an hour and will lead you through the shell of the castle, where unfortunately not too much of the interior remains.

Trim Castle, Ireland

A few other useful bits of visitor information:

  • There’s no climbing allowed on the castle.
  • There is very limited accessibility inside the castle itself, with steep and narrow stairs and no wheelchair access.
  • Assistance dogs are able to join visitors in the castle.
  • There are toilets near the entrance to the castle grounds but there are none inside the keep during the tour.

If you’re driving, Trim Town Centre has pay and display parking from 9:00 to 18:00 Monday to Saturday for €1 an hour.

Alternatively, there’s a special offer of all-day parking for €3 available in Emmet Street Car Park, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the castle.

Where is Trim Castle?

Trim castle can be found about 45 kilometres northwest of Dublin, along the River Boyne.
The official address is Manorland (1st Division), Trim, Co. Meath, Ireland. You can find it on a map here.

How do you get to Trim Castle?

By bus, take a bus in Dublin heading to Kells Rd. Walk a few minutes to Navan, Abbey Road and ride a bus heading to Trim Castle. The whole trip takes about 2 hours.

By car, you can drive to Trim Castle on either of these routes:
via M3 and R154, via M4 and R158, and via M4 and R148. The drive takes about an hour.

When is Trim Castle open?

Trim Castle is open on the following times throughout the year:
October: 09:30 – 16:30
November – early February: 09:00 – 16:00 (Weekends only)
early February – 16 March: 09:30 – 16:30
17 March – 30 September: 10:00 – 17:00

It’s closed on 25, 26, 31 December and 01 January.

What is the Trim Castle entrance fee?

The castle grounds are free of charge. You can only enter the keep via a guided tour. The tour costs €5 for a standard ticket, €4 for seniors, and €3 for children.

Are there tours to Trim Castle?

Celtic Boyne Valley Day Trip from Dublin – Travel through mystical Celtic Ireland on this full-day bus tour from Dublin.
Private Boyne Valley and Trim Castle Day Tour – Explore the Valley and Trim Castle on a small group tour of County Meath.

For more information, see the official website of Trim Castle.

Although there are no food or drink services at Trim Castle, there are lots of options in the town itself. I would recommend:

  • McCormack’s Pub for standard pub food
  • Franzinis for a good range of international dishes.
  • Or you can get something simple at Castle Takeaway.

While you’re in this part of the country, I recommend also seeing some of the other historic sights of Ireland.

In particular, I would suggest the Hill of Tara, Loughcrew Cairns, and Fore Abbey.

You could even visit Newgrange on the same day trip, to see one of Ireland’s World Heritage Sites.

Time Travel Turtle was supported by Tourism Ireland in partnership with iambassador but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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