Ashford Castle ‘arguably the poshest hotel’ in Ireland

The hotel, a symphony of turrets, arches, galleries and battlements, has been called "the apogee of Victorian neo-Gothic in Ireland."

A FLOWER BED and fountain front a wing of Ashford Castle

CONG, Ireland — Maureen O’Hara was one of the biggest movie stars of the 1940s and ’50s, the Angelina Jolie or Kate Winslett of her day.

Everywhere she went, she went in style. First class on the Queen Mary or Pan Am, the best restaurants, the best hotels. So when she came to Cong to shoot what would become the movie classic The Quiet Man she must have been shocked when she was shown to her room.

“It was very beat-up, with holes in the carpet and wallpaper peeling off the walls,” the actress recalls in her autobiography ‘Tis Herself.

The hotel was cold and drafty, too, so much so that director John Ford developed a severe chill that meant the second-unit director had to take over for a few days, while, as O’Hara writes, she “kept heating up hot-water bottles” for Ford.

That was in 1951.

The hotel was Ashford Castle and it was, obviously, not the most luxurious lodgings (but the best that Cong could offer). What a difference 60 years make.

Today, Ashford Castle is arguably the poshest hotel in Ireland. It regularly appears on any tourism “best of” lists: such as Condé Nast Traveler’s 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards, where it was named both Top Resort in Ireland and Top Resort in Europe.

The hotel, a symphony of turrets, arches, galleries and battlements, has been called “the apogee of Victorian neo-Gothic in Ireland.”

It began life in 1868 as the home of Lord Ardilaun, formerly Sir Arthur Guinness, who spent a fortune, earned from Ireland’s greatest industry, on the project.

It became a hotel in 1939, but the real turnaround came in 1970 when new owners embarked on a massive restoration and expansion, doubling the size of the building — but following the same architectural ideas — building a golf course and developing the grounds and gardens.

The owners aimed unabashedly at the upper end of the luxury market and their bid paid off. In the past 40 years there’s hardly a celebrity in politics, industry or show business who hasn’t stayed here. A wall of pictures and letters in an upstairs corridor bears testimony to this.

There’s a “thank you” note from then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan and photos of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Prince Edward of England, Russell Crowe, Pierce Brosnan (the James Bond star held his wedding reception here), Barbra Streisand, Tony Blair … the list is endless.

The hotel stands in 100 hectares of rolling parkland, on the banks of Lough Corrib. It goes without saying that, as you’d expect for $500 a night and up (way up), the rooms and suites are magnificent, the dining superb, and the overall ambience splendid.

Then there are the amenities: tennis, golf, a health centre, horseback riding, fishing, lake cruises and lessons in falconry and archery, among others. And you can ride in a traditional jaunting car, perhaps to view sites where Sean Thornton, the quiet man, (John Wayne) romanced Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara) during that summer of 1951.

Access:

For more information on Ashford Castle visit its website at ashford.ie.

For information on travel in Ireland visit the Tourism Ireland website at www.discoverireland.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

85-year-old Comox sprinter competes in worldwide virtual track meet

Toronto was slated to be the host city for the 2020 World… Continue reading

City of Courtenay 2019 annual report available for review

The City of Courtenay has released the draft 2019 Annual Report highlighting… Continue reading

Scaled-down Comox Valley Exhibition set for Aug. 28-30

The Comox Valley Exhibition is a go for 2020. The annual event… Continue reading

Military personnel relocation producing many foreign licence plates in the Comox Valley

Comox Mayor Russ Arnott is asking the public to consider the possible… Continue reading

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Police find used, uncapped needle tied to handrail in Vancouver Island Park

Officers believe the needle was put there with the intent to harm someone

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Most Read