How Castle Hotels Will Connect You With Ireland's Hidden Past
Peer out the same window of centuries-old castles like the lords and ladies of their time, or explore the richness of Ireland's woodland walks – all this and more is possible from one of these elegant castle hotels.
Cabra Castle Hotel, Co. Cavan
One of the benefits of the long and dramatic history we have in Ireland is the legacy left to us by our aristocratic ancestors – manors and mansions, estates and castles, dotted right around the country in strategic locations.
There is so much to discover in Ireland's history of conquests and consequences, romance and revolution. And there is so much to be enjoyed as you undertake this quest, on which you will find yourself transported in time and place and experience in ways which you might not have imagined.
If you were to touch down in Dublin Airport, it would be almost impossible to believe that within an hour's drive you could be transported from the modern metropolis to take in the vista of Cabra Castle in County Cavan. Like a scene out of Downton Abbey, the estate reveals itself: 100 acres of expansive lawns, woodland walks, fountains and features.
But what will take your breath away is the impressive castle building itself, with its turrets, towers and courtyards. This is the storybook version of a castle, right down to the massive arched doorway through which you will walk into a world of luxury, opulence and considerable comfort.
There's an unmistakeable air of antiquity about the place – but the charm and elegance of the surroundings are equally undeniable.
Markree Castle, Co. Sligo
Mysterious and magical
This is the Ancient East, within a short drive of Tara, the seat of the High Kings of Ireland and Eamhain Mhacha in Armagh where Cú Chulainn hurled and fought. To come here is to get a sense of a country with a history which stretches back into ancient times with a fascinating culture and sensibility. There is so much to explore and discover here.
But if it's something completely different you're after – and you've got your heart set on a castle – look west to Sligo and the Wild Atlantic Way.
Here in Markree Castle, you've the ideal base from which to conquer the west of Ireland, from the home of Queen Meabh in Grianan Aileach in Donegal to the mythical mountain of Ben Bulben and onward to the mysterious and magical Céide Fields on Mayo's coast.
Entering the Castle is like stepping through a time portal to a more elegant era, so painstaking has been the attention to period detail and so considered the restoration of this centuries old castle.
Lough Rynn Castle Estate & Gardens
The castle was originally built by the McDonaghs but when Cromwell came to Ireland he allotted the estate to Cornet Edward Cooper on his defeat of the O'Brien clan in 1663.
The tower used to house the most powerful telescope in the world in the 19th century and it was here some asteroids and meteors were spotted for the first time. It was here also that Cecil Alexander reputedly penned the hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful.
Not far away in the neighbouring county is the ancestral seat of the lords of Leitrim, the Clements family, who built Lough Rynn Castle in the 19th century having been granted a 10,000 acre estate in Co Leitrim during the previous century. While it took a long time to finish, the end result was a majestic manor which is set in 300 acres of rolling pastures by the lake shore.
The attention to detail here extends to the authentically sourced local produce cooked to perfection for diners in the award winning Sandstone Restaurant. Be sure to explore the Victorian Garden and take in the breathtaking scenery.
Ballynahinch Castle, Co. Galway
A holiday in a castle should be a memory you treasure and that's definitely on offer in Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Co Galway – not only for its history but for the luxury and comfort, but also the excellent dining options on offer.
After a day of hiking in the 12 Bens of Connemara or angling in the nearby river, come back to the roaring turf fire in the Fisherman's Pub to dine casually or choose the finer dining option of the Riverside Restaurant with its fine art collection on permanent exhibition.
These are just a handful of castles which are located around Ireland's storied landscape. There's hardly a county without one or three of these heirlooms which have been lovingly restored to their former grandeur.
In these Castles, you have the opportunity to live a life less ordinary if only for a few days. When you do visit and stay for a short while, you will wonder why you haven't been living in a castle all your life!
ABOUT ORIGINAL IRISH HOTELS
Original Irish Hotels are a collection of unique, owner-run hotels, located in Ireland’s most outstanding destinations. Open the door to the magic of unmissable moments with Ireland’s leading collection of independent hotels.
Our 60 hotels are dotted around the entire island of Ireland in must-see locations, from the Wild Atlantic Way, to Ireland’s Ancient East, the Causeway Coast, Dublin and the treasured heartland of Ireland’s midlands and lakelands.
Irrespective of where our hotels are, Original Irish Hotels pride themselves in hosting a unique and truly memorable experience for our guests, and soon to be friends. The collection is made up of a range of traditional and boutique hotels, castles, manor and country houses, all run by locals, ensuring a unique experience every time.