Beyond the abundant hydrangea blooms rooted against the wall at Ashford Castle is the stunning view of Lough Corrib, a lake in the west of Ireland.  It is the second largest lough in the isle of Ireland, connecting to the Corrib River that eventually connects to the sea of Galway.   During my first evening at the castle, the white hydrangea blooms beckoned me to explore the outer walls, where endless stories rich in history whisper into the soul.  The prestige of the castle dates back to 1228 located in Cong, County Mayo, Ireland.  The castle’s timeline has a notable history before becoming part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection featuring 82 guest rooms with a variety of activity to be explored among the 350 acres.

photo 1- castle

Staying at Ashford Castle was a true magical experience.  Upon arrival our group was greeted with a light mist of rain as the sun glistened through the soft drizzle producing a rainbow.  It was the most perfect welcome to the plush green landscape of Ireland.  We were soon escorted storybook style by Castle’s hospitable team, who escorted us through the posh interior filled with enchantment at every turn; even the dungeon exudes mysterious charm where we later gathered for our first jet-lagged meal.  This gathering in Ireland was an honor to the heritage of a dear friend with roots in the Connemara region. The celebration of Irish tradition was just beginning as we followed up our dinner with a nightcap of Irish coffee.

photo 4- castle

The next morning feeling as though I needed to be pinched, I was in the main dining room experiencing a royal breakfast fit for a princess before heading out to explore more of the grounds.  Picturesque moment after moment lured me into secret tunnels, winding trees and plush gardens, as I did my best to capture the experience through the lens of my camera.  It was so breathtaking that I missed quite a few shots just to take it all in.

photo 5- castle

photo 2- castle

Our stay at Ashford was less than 24 hours and ended with our group of colleagues splitting off into an array of activities at the castle; such as, spa, golf, tennis, equestrian, fishing, falconry, cycling, kayaking, archery and clay shooting.  Some decided to stay for a full on tea experience in the drawing room.

photo 3- castle

I look forward to sharing more of my journey in Ireland in my next post.