Ireland’s stunning landscape is home to thousands of castles. Ranging from medieval ruins to palatial estates, Ireland is the perfect destination for those wishing to immerse themselves in the romance and history of castles. Ireland’s castle attractions draw millions of visitors every year and are a wonderful way to connect oneself in Irish history.
Since the turn of the last century, a number of castles have been converted into hotels or bed and breakfasts. With properties that range from self-catering country escapes to luxury accommodation, Ireland offers a variety of castle stays that appeal to a broad spectrum of travelers.
For a unique and memorable experience, why not consider a castle stay for your next Irish vacation? Peggy shares her favourite five castles stays in Ireland.
Castle Stays In Ireland
Located on the banks of the Lough Corrib and surrounded by 350 acres of ancient woodland, Ashford Castle is a stunning 13the century Anglo-Norman castle that offers luxury accommodation.
Operating as a hotel since 1939, the castle underwent a major refurbishment program in 2013. After two years of renovations, that included the addition of a 32 seat movie theatre, billiards room and spa, Ashford Castle reopened its doors in 2015.
Ashford’s stunning interior is exquisitely decorated with antiques and works of art, which make guests feel as though they have stepped back in time. The 83 beautifully appointed guestrooms are also complete with modern amenities, certain to meet royal expectations.
Ashford Castle offers numerous onsite outdoor activities, including a 9-hole golf course, where guests can try their hand at archery, falconry, cycling, kayaking and zip lining.
With its lavish surroundings and numerous entertainments, Ashford Castle is the perfect destination for a luxurious escape.
The castle grounds were used for the filming of 1951’s film “The Quiet Man” starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Guests who are not familiar with the film are welcome to view it at the in-house movie theatre. In addition to hosting John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, the castle has entertained a number of renowned visitors such as King George V and Queen Mary, Oscar Wilde, Princess Grace, John Lennon and Ronald Reagan.
Ross Castle, Co. Meath
Ross Castle Bed and Breakfast is a stunning medieval tower house located on the shores of Lough Sheelin that provides guests with a regal experience at a reasonable price.
The defensive structure was originally built in 1533, by Richard Nugent, the 12th Baron of Devlin and served as an Anglo-Norman stronghold on the western fringes of the pale. Although the castle was destroyed by Cromwellian troops in 1644, the castle was rebuilt in the 19th century.
This unique Bed and Breakfast offers a quiet country escape that will transport you back in time. With modern amenities, each guestroom is tastefully decorated with antique furnishings and medieval décor. For travelers seeking a hotel experience steeped in Irish history, Ross Castle is an excellent choice.
The castle has retained much of its medieval splendour with historical features such as stone fireplaces, arrow slits and a few previous inhabitants. With its lengthy and turbulent history, Ross Castle has its share of ghost stories. A frequent visitor is the 13th Baron of Devlin whose fearsome reputation earned him the nickname of Black Baron.
Sabina, daughter of the Black Baron is also said to haunt the castle. Sabina fell in love with the son of a neighbouring chieftain, Orwin O’Reilly; tragically, in their attempt to run away together, Orwin drowned in the Lough. Sabina, inconsolable with grief, locked herself in her room and refused food or drink until she died. It is said that her restless spirit still wanders the castle, pining for her lover.
Guests looking for a unique experience can even request to stay in Sabina’s Room or the Baron’s room. If you dare!
Ballyseede Castle, Co. Kerry
Ballyseede Castle, in County Kerry is a 4-star hotel that combines old-world charm with luxury. The castle operates as a 23 room hotel and has the distinction of being Kerry’s only castle hotel. Each guest room seamlessly blends historic décor with modern comforts and with over 30 acres of woodlands and gardens, guests are well placed to enjoy Kerry’s picturesque landscape.
With its grand architecture and elegant rooms Ballyseede Castle is an excellent choice for travellers wishing to step back into a world of tradition and refinement.
Gift of a Rose
Originally the chief garrison for the Fitzgerald family, the estate was confiscated after Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Desmond was executed for treason in 1583. Soon after, the estate was then granted to the Blennerhasset family, who were given a perpetual lease for the cost of a single red rose to be presented each year on midsummers day.
For nearly four centuries, Ballyseede Castle was the family home of the Blennerhasset family until it was sold in 1966.
Belleek Castle, Co. Mayo
Belleek Castle sits upon a 1000 acre estate along the banks of the River Moy. Dating back to 1825, the castle is designed in the neo-gothic style. Acquired by retired sailor Marshall Doran, it was lovingly restored before opening as a hotel in 1970.
The interior of the castle is decorated in medieval and nautical themes and guestrooms feature four-poster beds with stunning views of the estate’s woodlands.
The castle has a number of dining options and prides itself on the creation of original recipes with the use of local and seasonal ingredients. With an emphasis on quality food and excellent customer service, Belleek Castle has earned number of accolades including “Best Restaurant in Connaught” in 2017.
Another unique feature of this property is the Spanish Armada Bar. Built by Marshall Doran himself, the room is modelled on a Captain’s Ward Room of a Spanish galleon and is constructed from timbers salvaged from a 16th century Armada shipwreck.
The castle also features a museum with displays of armour, weapons and rare fossils.
With charming interiors, picturesque surroundings and warm hospitality, Belleek Castle is a wonderful choice for a castle destination.
Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan
Castle Leslie has been the ancestral home of the Clan Leslie since the 1600s and is one of the few great Irish estates still in the hands of its founding family.
Built in the Scots Baronial Style, the castle’s 1000 acre estate includes sprawling woodlands and two lakes. Since opening its doors to guests in the 1990s, the castle has won a number of accolades and had quickly become one of Ireland’s favourite castle hotels.
Each of the hotel’s 20 guestrooms has its own story relating to Leslie family history and blends stylish décor with modern comforts.
The property has a range of dining options, allowing guests to choose a casual or more formal atmosphere. With a focus on regional and locally sourced artisan foods, Castle Leslie promises an exceptional dining experience. Afternoon Tea is also served daily in the delightfully elegant drawing room and is a must for guests looking to partake in the time-honoured tradition.
The hotel is a one-stop shop for outdoor recreation offering a variety of on-site activities such as equestrian facilities, kayaking, fishing, falconry and clay target shooting.
For those guests who are looking for a more relaxing experience, why not visit the castle’s spa? The Victorian Treatment rooms offer a variety of treatment options that will leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised. Steeped in both history and elegance, a visit to Leslie Castle is a memorable experience.
Spectacularly located on the shores of Lough Corrib, Ashford Castle is a magnificent 13th century castle. With luxurious guestrooms and numerous amenities and entertainments, this luxury hotel is certain to impress.
How To Get There:
- 42km (26 miles) from Galway City.
- From Galway City take Headford Rd/N84 for 2.1 km. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Headford Rd/N84Continue to follow N84 for (23.6 km).
- Follow R334 and R346 to Ashford Castle Drive.
This stunning medieval tower house combines historical aesthetic with modern amenities. Situated on the shores of Lough Sheelin, Ross Castle is a perfect base for exploring County Meath.
How To Get There:
- 97km (60 miles) from Dublin.
- Take R147 and Navan Rd to M3 in Fingal (13.5 km).
- Keep right to continue on M3, follow signs for Cavan Partial toll road (51.3 km).
- Continue on N3 to your destination
Ballyseede Castle is a 4-star hotel that combines old-world charm with luxury. Located in picturesque County Kerry, the hotel has over 30 acres of grounds and woodlands to explore.
How To Get There:
- 297 km (185 miles) from Dublin.
- Get on M50 in South Dublin from R148 (10.5 km).
- Continue on M50 to R110 (4.1 km).
- Continue to Kildare(20.8 km).Follow M7 to N21 in Limerick (175 km).
- Follow N21 to your destination in Kerry (84.6 km).
Belleek Castle is a neo-gothic castle situated on the banks of the River Moy. Guests will feel that they have truly stepped back in time with the castle’s antique décor and cozy guestrooms. With multiple accolades for dining and hospitality, Belleek Castle is sure to impress.
How To Get There:
- 237 km (147 miles) from Dublin.
- Take R148 to N4 in South Dublin (9.8 km).
- Follow M4, N4 and N5 to Mayo (208 km).
- Continue to Ballina (16.6 km).
- Follow N59 to Nally St (450 m).
- Take Castle Rd to your destination
The ancestral home of the Clan Leslie, Castle Leslie is one of Ireland’s favourite Castle Hotels. With comfortable rooms, an array of fine dining options and numerous onsite activities, Castle Leslie is an exceptional accommodation choice.
How To Get There:
- 132 km (82 miles) from Dublin.
- Get on M50 from N1 (6.0 km).
- Drive from M1 and N2 to Monaghan (120 km).
- Take R185 to Lough Lane.