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.
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 honour 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.
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.
The five star luxury hotel near Cong on the Mayo-Galway border, is on the Galway side of Lough Corrib in Ireland. It is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World organisation and was previously owned by the Guinness family.
A historic medieval and Victorian castle that has been expanded over the centuries. The hotel has landscaped gardens, ancient woodland & an emerald lake.
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 breath-taking that I missed quite a few shots just to take it all in.
1228 – De Burgo Family
Ashford Castle was founded by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family following their defeat of the native O’Connors of Connaught. The de Burgos built several such castles throughout the region, but Ashford castle in Ireland remained the principal stronghold.
1589 – Sir Richard Bingham
After more than three and a half centuries under the de Burgos, Ashford passed to Sir Richard Bingham, Lord President of Connaught, following an intense battle against the forces of the de Burgos. A fortified enclave was added within its territories.
1715 – The Browne Family
The famous Ashford Estate was established by the Browne family and a wonderful French style château was added to the architectural splendour of the castle. The double-headed eagles, still visible on the roof, represent the coat of arms of the Brownes.
1852 – Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness
Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness purchased Ashford castle, extended the estate to 26,000 acres, and built new roads, planting thousands of trees and added two large Victorian-style extensions.
1868 – Lord Ardilaun Guinness
Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness bequeathed Ashford to his son, Lord Ardilaun, who was an avid gardener who oversaw the development of vast woodlands and rebuilt the whole west wing of the castle.
1915 – A First Class Hotel
Ashford was conserved by the Iveagh Trust on behalf of the Guinness family until it was bought by Noel Huggard in 1939. Huggard established the castle as a first-class hotel renowned for the provision of its country pursuits.
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.
Activities 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.
I look forward to sharing more of my journey in Ireland.