Ireland is a land of castles. Many hundreds lie scattered throughout the country and they remain a striking and very visible manifestation of the social and military demands of Ireland's medieval landed classes and those who followed. While the number and variety of castles testify to Ireland's turbulent past, visiting them todya is frequently a fascinating and tranquil experience. They range from early fortifications and medieval towers to the great Norman fortresses such as those at Trim and Carrickfergus and the Renaissance castles of Kanturk and Burntcourt. Each has its own paticular character and story to tell. Together they represent an astonishingly rich contrubution to Ireland's heritage and landscape.