Country Living in Western Ireland at the Lodge at Ashford Castle
In the western part of Ireland lies the quaint village of Cong. Friendly ginger-haired locals are quick with a smile and a wave or to share a tankard of stout should you visit one of their festive taverns. The town’s second claim to fame is that it is the location of the then Hollywood blockbuster, The Quiet Man, staring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. In fact there’s a life-size statue of the big-screen lovebirds in the town center. However, the town’s premier landmark is one of the top castles in Europe and less than a mile away, the Ashford Castle.
The Ashford Castle is a fairy tale destination and everything you would expect in a proper European castle. 350 acres of land set in front of the daunting Lough Corrib with the Connemara Mountains as the backdrop. The castle sprawls out in front of the lock with an emerald green 9-hole golf course as its front lawn.
Just to the east, overlooking the lake, castle and grounds, is a lovely country inn and estate, the Lodge at Ashford Castle. Green Range Rovers whisk guests about the grounds of the castle and to the entry of the lodge. Once inside, a warm and cozy living room is there where guests sip on toddies in front of the proper Irish bar of emerald green walls and red patent leather chairs. The lodge sits in picturesque gardens with sweeping views of the loch and castle grounds.
The lodge was originally built in 1865 as the castle estate manager’s home and a guest house. Today it provides its guests with a mellow country house hospitality combined with sleek contemporary style, and warm Irish service. The Lodge at Ashford Castle has won a cadre of luxury hospitality awards over the years such as 2017 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and was voted No. 2 in the Top 10 Hotels in Ireland.
Throughout the lodge there are comfy nooks and crannies to get lost with a book, chat over tea or to just take in the edgy, funky, and modern art that adorns the common areas. Beyond is a courtyard with a lawn, gazebo and fountain as well as the guest rooms.
The Lodge at Ashford Castle offers 64 modern rooms and suites ranging in size from spacious to family size. The Duplex Suites are very comfortable with a large living room with a toasty gas fireplace and outside terrace. On the second floor there is the bedroom with comfortable bed with duck feather pillows and duvet as well as premium bathroom amenities. Each of the suites are individually designed with a a chic décor, edgy artwork, and vibrant color palate.
The Lake View Suites are the lodge’s top category with an impressive view of the Lough Corrib. All have a private terrace or balcony perfect for having your morning tea while taking in the picture perfect views of the grounds. Each of the six lake view suites have a lovely décor with contemporary furnishings and a tasteful eye for the detail with bold colors and artwork. Each of the suites also has a full sized soaking bath with shower.
Although guests may choose from the restaurant facilities in the main castle, they often choose to stay close with a dinner at the Wilde’s Restaurant. Named after Ireland’s Sir William Wilde who lived nearby and was also an accomplished eye surgeon. His other noteworthy accomplishment was to be the father of one of Ireland’s favorite sons, Oscar Wilde.
The culinary direction comes from Head Chef Jonathan Kean who is one of Ireland’s most talent chefs. Expect haute Irish cuisine with a fabulous presentation and service.
A stay at the lodge affords guests access to most of the same services and activities of the castle. There are numerous walking paths taking guests through the property’s stunning gardens or hours of trekking through moss covered forests where you won’t run into another soul. There are plenty of cycling paths as well with bikes available.
Beyond that there’s a challenging nine-hole golf course, horse riding, zip-lining, clay shooting, archery and even falconry. There’s plenty to do on the loch as well from kayaking, stand up paddle boarding.
While there you’ll also want to join local historian and boat captain Patrick Luskin for a fascinating tour of the loch in their charming vessel. The boat captain/historian circumvents the loch as he regales in stories of its past, the kings and queen and nobility that visited and other fascinating historical tidbits. Beyond that, guests will learn about and see nature that abounds in and around the loch from the types of fish there to birds that migrate etc. The scenery is remarkable and ideal for photography lovers.
The Lodge at Ashford Castle affords guests a delightful holiday in the Irish countryside on the grounds of a stunning medieval castle. This is the type of holiday of which dreams are made.