Exploring Ireland: The Stories Behind These Stunning Luxury Castle Hotels

Markree Castle Exterior Night

When it comes to Ireland's castle hotels, you'd be hard-pressed to find an experience more inviting and magical.

If staying in a fairytale castle has always been on your bucket list, there's nowhere you will experience a holiday more magical than in Ireland. A country filled to the brim with history and legend, where vines tumble over ruined stone walls and the earth beneath your feet whispers of tales of warriors and heroes, even a simple pleasure such as a walk in the woods can soon turn into an adventure you'll always cherish.

This wonderful place has welcomed generations of tourists throughout its storied history so, if you haven’t yet partaken of some Irish charm, now’s the time! Leave the ordinary at home. Come to Ireland and pick from one of our incredible castle hotels – you may just fall under its spell and never want to leave!

Markree Castle Hotel, Co. Sligo

A magnificent former fort, now a manor house, Markree Castle Hotel was acquired by 'Cornet' Edward Cooper in 1662 under the Act of Settlement of King Charles II. In the pages of its chronicles lie spellbinding tales of victory and defeat throughout the English invasion of Ireland, all the way to the country's War of Independence.

Literary fans will love to know that this beautiful edifice was visited frequently by celebrated Irish writer and poet W. B. Yeats. For stargazers, know that work began on an observatory here in 1834, which became home to the world’s first cast-iron telescope. In 1848, an asteroid called Metis was discovered in Markree Castle’s observatory, which was the first and only asteroid discovered in Ireland up until 2008. And music lovers can rest easy here knowing that it hosted Johnny Cash back in 1990

Markree Castle Grand Hall

Things to do

Nestled in the stunning North West of Ireland in County Sligo on the route of the world-famous Wild Atlantic Way, Markree Castle is the perfect base to explore this storied land.

A short drive will whisk you to little Coney Island, off the coast of Sligo, where you may travel across the sand at low tide and explore this almost deserted island. Stories of fairies, mermaids and spirits abound here, as well as the remains of a washed-up whale keeping watch over the beach. Intrigued visitors can try to find the elusive St. Patrick's chair, where you may make a wish as you place your hand in the imprint of his hand.

In Sligo, visit the shop of Michael Quirke, a former butcher who is now famous for his magical wood carvings based on local myths and legends. View his incredible artwork and be regaled by local folklore.

Finally, why not go home via the Glenliff Horseshoe: an enchanting trail where you can leave your car on and feel it roll uphill without using the accelerator?

Gleniff Horseshore 1

Above image: Gleniff Horseshoe, Co. Sligo

Luttrellstown Castle Resort

A historical gem in County Dublin, Luttrellstown Castle Resort boasts a history that can be traced all the way back to 1204.

For hundreds of years, the Luttrell clan held sway inside the walls of this exalted castle until the death of John Olmius, 3rd Earl of Carhampton in 1829.

One story you will hear is that of Lord Simon Luttrell, a notorious rake who sold his soul to the devil. In return, Old Scratch built him a mill on the River Liffey. Or, hear about the resplendent Lady Anne Luttrell, a woman with "eyelashes half a yard long as a coquette beyond measure", who set into motion a law prohibiting those in royal succession from marrying without the monarch's permission.

Today, Luttrellstown Castle Resort sits on 567 acres of lush private parkland. This immense walled estate contains 300 species of trees and plants; an 18-hole championship golf course; a state-of-the-art 3-storey clubhouse; a scenic 20-acre lake, and of course, a celebrated 600-year-old Irish castle, this property is offered for hire on an exclusive basis.

Luttrellstown Castle Resort is a place you that you will find very hard to leave.

Luttrellstown Castle Resort 5

Things to do

Luttrellstown Castle Resort sits right on the edge of Dublin, where myth and history intertwine in this cosmopolitan setting. The Folklore Collection at University College Dublin is open to the public, where the traditions and tales of Ireland can be explored. Or why not enjoy an enchanting evening of Irish storytelling in the Stag’s Head Pub, Dame Court, where you can relax in a cosy setting and be transported by renowned storytellers to another world?

Dublin Castle offers a fascinating museum experience, and there are more museums hidden across the city for you to discover everything about Irish life from the trials of the famine to what working life was like. There aren't enough words in the English or Irish languages to describe how much Dublin has to offer: you have to experience it for yourself!

Trinity College Dublin

Above image: Trinity College, Dublin City

Ballyseede Castle Hotel

A truly majestic hotel with a ghostly legend haunting its majestic facade, Ballyseede Castle Hotel is a property steeped in a legacy that dates back to the 1500s.

You may well catch a glimpse of the ghost of Hilda Blennerhassett, her appearance more than often preceded by the heady fragrance of roses. She prefers to walk the veil between this life and the next among the castle's upper floor bedrooms and main staircase.

Not only that, but many guests have reported sightings of children in period costumes playing up and down the castle's passages: believed to be the ghosts of victims of the Irish Famine, don't let them bother you as they are harmless!

Boasting opulent decor, luxurious rooms, and meals that will leave you full and satisfied, the Ballyseede Castle Hotel is truly an unforgettable experience.

Ballyseede Castle

Things to do

Here, why not opt to catch the ferry to Skellig Island? On the summit of this awe-inspiring rock, you will find a remarkably well-preserved 6th-century monastic settlement, rich in history and legend. You may think this place looks familiar: that's because it hosted filmmakers and international celebrities as the set for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

In the nearby town of Tralee, you'll find the Siamsa Tíre (Ireland’s National Folk Theatre). A programme of vibrant theatrical entertainment, song, and dance is here to captivate you with breathtaking performances throughout the year.

Tralee town park is home to an enchanting Rose Garden, replete with many unusual and delicately-perfumed varieties. Round off your trip to one of the excellent local pubs, and you'll have memories for a lifetime.


Image Above: Skellig Island, Co. Kerry

Abbeyglen Castle Hotel

Nestled in the romantic setting of the Twelve Bens with beautiful views overlooking Clifden Bay.

Abbeyglen Castle Hotel was built in 1832 by John d’Arcy of Clifden Castle. It was leased to the then parish priest as Glenowen House. By 1854 and until 1955, it was an Orphange to young girls, boys and young infants. After this, it fell into derelict and became home to cattle and sheep for some time.

In the 1960s, Padraig Joyce and his wife bought the castle and operated it as Glenowen House Hotel until in 1969, the Hughes family took interest. Since then, Abbeyglen Castle Hotel has developed into one of Connemara's much loved hotels

Abbeyglen Castle Hotel 20

Things to do

If you want a little taste of paradise in Ireland, you must check out the famous Dog's Bay Beach. It is a sight to behold with its horseshow shaped sandy beach stretching for over 1.6Km, It is a hidden treasure!

On your return from Dog's Bay, you can stop off in the beautiful village of Roundstone which lies on the western arm of Bertraghboy bay in Connemara, Co. Galway. This Connemara village is beautifully set on one of the most spectacular coastal drives in Ireland overlooking the Atlantic at the foot of Errisbeg Mountain. If you like your fish, you're in for a treat; local fishermen prepare and return with the day’s catch, featuring a mix of Lobster, Crab, Shrimp, Mackerel and Cod.

After your paradise indulgence and the fresh fish, next visit Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore Castle was built in the late 1800s by Mitchell Henry MP, a wealthy businessman, and liberal politician. Inspired by his love for his wife Margaret, and his hopes for his beloved Ireland, Henry created an estate boasting ‘all the innovations of the modern age’. An enlightened landlord and vocal advocate of the Irish people, Henry poured his life’s energy into creating an estate that would showcase what could be achieved in the remote wilds of Connemara. Today Kylemore Abbey is owned and run by the Benedictine community who have been in residence here since 1920.

Dogs Bay

Image Above: Dog's Bay, Connemara

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 51 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.