Ashford Castle is a medieval castle, dating from the 12th century, now converted into a hotel of great prestige. As imposing as it is gigantic, Ashford Castle is impressive and has been built in an idyllic setting on the banks of Lough Corrib where it is great for golfing, fishing, or simply walking!
Ashford Castle was built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman Burgo (also known as Burke) family in Mayo County. The Burgo family lived here for three centuries, before losing the castle in 1589 during a battle with the British Sir Richard Bingham, then Lord President of the Province of Connaught. The latter then decided to endow the castle with a fortified enclave, and spent peaceful years there.
In 1715 the castle changed hands again and became the property of the Browne family. They officially created the “Domaine d’Ashford”, an estate covering several hectares all around the castle, and had an additional room built, whose architecture and decoration is directly inspired by 17th century French art.
Ashford Castle and the Ashford estate were finally bought in 1852 by Benjamin Guinness, who wanted to modernise the fortress. He then extended the estate to 26,000 hectares, built roads, plants and trees, and ordered the construction of two extensions to the castle, in Victorian style.
Now the castle is monumental!
On the death of Benjamin Guinness, he bequeathed the property and his estate to his son Lord Ardilaun, a passionate gardener who supervised the development of the wooded grounds and rebuilt the west wing of the castle. He was one of the owners of Ashford who was most involved in the life of the estate. On his death, the castle was acquired by his nephew Ernest Guinness, who sold it in 1939 to Noel Huggard, who transformed Ashford Castle into a luxury hotel, offering activities such as fishing and shooting.
In 1970 Ashford Castle was purchased by John Mulcahy, who oversaw its complete restoration and expansion, doubling its size with the addition of a new wing, the construction of a golf course and the development of a park and gardens. In 1985, a group of Irish-American investors, including Chuck Feeney, purchased Ashford Castle. The castle was eventually sold by these investors for 50 million euros.
In his time, the castle welcomed many notable guests, including: king George V of the United Kingdom, his wife Queen Mary, Oscar Wilde (whose father, Sir William Wilde, had a property adjacent to Ashford, where the writer spent much of his childhood), LPGA golfer Mindy Miller, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, Michael Castriota of Veneto King of All, John Wayne, HSH Prince Rainier III of Monaco and his wife HSH Princess Grace.
As Ashford Castle has now been converted into a prestigious hotel, it will of course be easier to visit the place if you are a guest of the hotel (hence a rather large budget). You will then have the opportunity to enjoy its gardens, its high quality golf course, to go fishing in the water of Lough Corrib, or to visit the falconry school of Ireland, which has elected its apartments in one of the wings of the castle.