Romantic Castle Getaway in the Irish Countryside

The West of Ireland is the embodiment of what most people imagine Ireland to be like; rugged rolling hills of green, sheep everywhere, and inhabitants with accents so strong they sound like Leprechauns. The countryside has a magical beauty coming from its untamed scenery... and the copious amounts of rain that makes it so green.. which is what makes it a perfect weekend escape!

The Western Counties of Galway, Mayo, Clare, and Sligo are brimming with places to stay from quaint B & B's in towns the size of a dot, to ancient castles that look equally impressive and unstable all at the same time.

Ashford Castle Estate

We decided to stay in Ashford Castle, a luxury castle hotel that sits on the banks of Lough Corrib in Cong, County Mayo. The castle originates from 1228 when it was built by the Anglo-Norman House of Burke.

The estate of Ashford was later developed in 1715 and included a french style hunting lodge. It was then sold in 1852 to Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness who built two large Victorian style extensions onto the castle, as well as building roads and planting trees on the estate.

First views of the Castle

After a 2 hour 40 minute drive from Dublin we arrived at a massive stone arch that signified the entrance to the Castle grounds. The road from the start of the estate winds around the forrest building suspense with many twists and turns before eventually giving a view of Lough Corrib and then the Castle itself.  
View of the castle from Lough Corrib side
After seeing such a magnificent castle I was ever so curious to check out the interior and to see the rooms!

Our room faced the lake and the decor was perfectly reminiscent of a castle, though strangely it had a slight Roman twist, rather than staying fully true to its Anglo-Norman heritage. I did feel rather like a queen when I sank into the ever so soft bed and looked at my exquisitely luxurious surroundings.

In Vino Vertias: interesting choice for above the bed
Room Decor
The only problem with the room was the lack of light, the windows were rather small and limited the view of the lake plus the amount of sunshine that managed to seep into the room.

Lonely Window

The bathroom thankfully was not reminiscent of a castle and was kitted out with the modern power shower - exciting!
Nicely stocked bathroom

It did also have this strange blue / purple lighting that made it rather groovy.

Inside the castle there is the main fine dining restaurant called George V, and there is also a more casual restaurant named The Dungeon. We had one meal in the aptly named Dungeon restaurant, the food was good but it was quite cold in terms of atmosphere. The George V restaurant made for a pleasant place to eat breakfast and the menu did look good in the evening though we never got to try it. There are several pubs and cafes in the neighbouring village of Cong, which is just a short walk away. Equally Galway City and the town of Westport are both under an hour drive from the castle and they have many great restaurants and lively bars, both are popular places for nightlife in the area.

Random Knight in the Dungeon

Inside the Castle
The West is a lovely area for outdoor pursuits despite the terrible weather. Boating and fishing on the many Loughs and the River Shannon are common activities for many Irish and tourists a like. It is also beautiful to drive around Connemara and take in the scenery.

We tried clay pigeon shooting as there is nothing that makes you feel more like you are living in the wild countryside than walking around in your wellies and shooting a massive gun!

For the more adventurous there is also a school of falconry and an equestrian centre in the Castle grounds that are open to non-residents of the hotel.

Finally, if you are a fan of 'The Quiet Man' it was partly filmed in Cong and in the Ashford Castle estate so make sure to walk around the village to see the film locations and the museum!


1 comment:

  1. Love the scenery (reminds me a little of NZ aka home) but love the castle more, that bedroom is so grand!