Ashford Castle is a medieval castle, near Cong on the Mayo/Galway border in Ireland. It is now a five star luxury hotel. In 2012, it was voted the best resort in Ireland and the third best in Europe by Condé Nast Traveller.
The castle looks like the perfect setting for a fairy-tale with its turrets towering above Lough Corrib, and surrounded by the many woods and gardens. It was built by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo (anglicised to Burke) family in 1228. The de Burgo’s built several castles throughout Ireland, but Ashford was their most important.
It remained in the de Burgo family for more than three and a half centuries. In 1589, the de Burgos were defeated in battle by Sir Richard Bingham (Lord President of Connaught).
In 1678, Dominick Browne was presented with the castle and estate by a Royal Grant. In 1715, the Browne family built the hunting lodge in the style of a French chateau. The coat of arms of the Brownes – double-headed eagles – are still on the roof.
Owned by the Guinness family
In 1852, the new owner, Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, bought more land taking the estate to 26,000 acres, He planted thousands of trees and built new roads on the estate. He also extended the castle by adding two large Victorian style extensions.
The estate was passed down to the Guinness’ son, Lord Ardilaun in 1868. Lord Ardilaun developed the land and planted huge woodlands. The west wing of the Ashford Castle was rebuilt while he lived there.
Hotel of film stars
Noel Huggard bought the castle in 1939 and turned into a “First Class Hotel”. In 1951, while recording of the classic film The Quiet Man, John Ford and many other actors stayed at the castle.
John A. Mulcahy became the latest owner of Ashford in 1970. He oversaw a major development which doubled the size of the estate. The gardens were established and a golf course was added. It was then sold to a syndicate of Irish American investors.
In 2008, Ashford Castle was bought by Galway developer, Gerry Barrett, for €50 million. In May 2013, Red Carnation Hotels group bought Ashford Castle Hotel , for €20 million – less than half of what Barrett had paid just five years earlier.
The staff are said to have accepted a 20% to 30% paycut to ensure the hotel’s survival. 60% of the hotel guests come from America, 30% from Ireland, and 10% from elsewhere.
Guests of the hotel
Past guests have included King George V, Emperor of India, John Lennon, George Harrison, Oscar Wilde, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Prince Edward, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, John Wayne, Brad Pitt, Pierce Brosnan, Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Princess Grace.
Tourist attractions in IrelandThe Blarney Stone Bru na Boinne Bunratty Castle The Burren Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge The Cliffs of Moher Croagh Patrick Dingle Peninsula Garnish Island The Giant's Causeway Glendalough The Guinness Storehouse Hill of Tara Lakes of Killarney Newgrange The Peace Bridge Ring of Kerry Wild Atlantic Way
Irish citiesBelfast Cork Derry Dublin Galway Limerick Waterford
Tourism articlesTripAdvisor's top 10 destinations in Ireland for 2015 Top holiday destinations in Ireland - as voted by the Irish Top holiday destinations in Ireland - as voted by tourists Ireland's favourite heritage site The most romantic city in Ireland Hidden gems in Ireland The top ten Irish beaches Where would Irish people take overseas guests? Tips for first time visitors to Ireland What not to do when visiting Ireland Ireland's top sacred pilgrimage sites Eight reasons why Irish pubs are Ireland's top attractions What do you like about Ireland? Local Irish pubs number one attraction for tourists Tourists happy with 'value for money' on visits to Ireland Video - initiative to promote 'Ireland's Ancient East' Ireland can boast the best 'cliff view' in the world Most visited tourist attractions in Ireland in 2014? Industry warned not to 'repeat the mistakes of the past' Dublin 'favourite worldwide city' for young travellers Which tourist attractions in Ireland made the Lonely Planet's ultimate guide? Dublin is one of the world's top three cities say Lonely Planet Ireland has three of the world's four friendliest cities
Did you know?Singer songwriter Ed Sheeran performed an Irish language version of his smash single Thinking Out Loud on RTÉ 2fm. It was a great gesture from Sheeran to learn his own song in another language – and his performance came after a classic radio prank. Find out more.
Have you heard about…A stunning former schoolhouse in Co Sligo was sold in 2017 and turned into a beautiful home. Take a look inside.
What about this…‘The man who couldn’t be killed’ - firefighter Mike Molloy was an Irish emigrant living in New York in the early 20th century. He was the victim of a consistent series of murder attempts by an insurance fraud gang. Find out more.