Prepare to embark on a journey of discovery as you uncover the intriguing mysteries of Ashford Castle, Ireland. This charming estate is more than just a picturesque setting; it’s a place bustling with fascinating tales and legends. From the historical owners of this stunning castle, including the famed Guinness family, to its star-studded guest list and role as a popular movie filming location, every corner holds a story. Have you ever wondered about the cost of owning such a majestic castle, or the number of rooms it contains? Or perhaps you’re curious about the town nestled nearby or the daily operations managed by the castle staff? With this read, you’ll get to unravel all these and more, allowing a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle and rich history of Ashford Castle.
Brief History of Ashford Castle
Origins of Ashford Castle
From its origins, Ashford Castle is a symbol of Ireland’s rich history. This grand establishment was originally built as a hunting lodge by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family in 1228. Even then, it commanded attention with its strategic location on the banks of Lough Corrib and River Cong, offering an ideal halt spot between the major towns of Galway and Sligo.
Ownership by Guinness family
The history of Ashford Castle took a memorable turn in 1852 when it was acquired by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness from the Arthur Guinness brewing dynasty. He expanded the estate to a sprawling 26,000 acres, transforming it into an exquisite Victorian castle that etched its grandeur within the landscape of Western Ireland.
Sale of the Castle by Guinness family
After several decades in the possession of the Guinness family, Ashford Castle was sold in 1939 to Noel Huggard who opened its doors as a hotel. It offered the opulence of castle living to the public, enabling many to experience its exquisite blend of history, grandeur, and Victorian charm.
Current owners of Ashford Castle
The current chapter in Ashford Castle’s history began in 2013 when it was purchased by the Tollman family, owners of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection. They embarked on an ambitious restoration project to restore the castle to its former glory and beyond.
Exploring the Ashford Castle
Overall Structure of the castle
Visiting Ashford Castle, you would be struck by the blend of medieval, Victorian, and modern architecture that reflect the castle’s lengthy heritage. The castle’s inherent grandiosity is a testament to the various historical eras it has seen.
Number of rooms in the castle
The castle is home to 83 bedrooms, each endowed with its own unique charm, and elegant décor. From comfortable and cosy standard rooms to luxuriously embellished suites, the castle has an assortment of accommodations catering to diverse tastes and preferences.
Grandeur and architectural significance of the castle
Walking through Ashford Castle, you would be enthralled by its beautifully appointed staterooms, opulent furnishings, and grand staircases. The castle’s library houses over 800 books while the Billiards Room offers a cozy spot to relax. Its architectural significance is evident in the meticulously restored woodwork, original fireplaces, and the hand-carved paneling at the George V Dining room.
Access to Ashford Castle
Visiting options for non-residents
Even if you aren’t staying at the castle, you can still visit Ashford Castle. The estate offers guided tours of the castle and its grounds where you can explore its rich history, breath-taking infrastructure, and exquisite landscapes.
Costs associated with buying Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle is not just a magnificent structure sitting on the Irish landscape, but also a valuable property known to have been purchased by the Tollman family for a substantial amount, estimated in the high tens of millions.
List of celebrities who have been at Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle, with its exquisite charm and royal ambiance has been a favored haunt for many celebrities. The list includes names like Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly, President Ronald Reagan, John Lennon, George Harrison, Brad Pitt and more recently, Pierce Brosnan who celebrated his marriage here.
Films and TV Shows shot at Ashford Castle
Besides being a famed celebrity haunt, Ashford Castle has served as a backdrop for several films and TV shows. Notably, the castle’s scenic exterior was showcased in the 1952 film “The Quiet Man”, featuring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Not much later, reality show The Bachelor also filmed a romantic date episode at the castle.
Economic Impact of Ashford Castle
Number of people employed at Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle is more than a tourist attraction; it is also a significant source of employment. The castle and its estate provide jobs for hundreds of locals, thus having a substantial impact on the regional economy.
Revenue generation for local economy
Beyond just a majestic property, Ashford Castle is a significant revenue generator. The influx of tourists not only contributes to the castle’s revenues, but also positively impacts the local economy by boosting local businesses, from shops to local tours and beyond.
Town near Ashford Castle
The charming village of Cong, famous for its Abbey, is located near Ashford Castle. This quaint local town adds to the allure of the castle visit with its local shops, cafes, and stunning landscapes making it an essential place to visit.
Touristic Attractions around Ashford Castle
The region around Ashford Castle has plenty to offer to tourists. Nature lovers can enjoy the tranquil beauty of the Connemara National Park, and the stunning vistas of the Cliffs of Moher. History buffs can explore the historical site of Kylemore Abbey and the Celtic stone fort of Dun Aonghasa.
Ashford Castle as a Wedding Destination
Popularity among couples around the world
Ashford Castle is a favoured wedding destination, attracting couples from around the world with its romantic setting, historical grandeur, and excellent hospitality. Its breathtaking gardens, private lake, and impressive rooms provide a perfect backdrop for a fairytale wedding.
Packages and services offered
Drawing on its reputation for romantic charm, Ashford Castle extends a range of packages and services for weddings. From wedding planners, photographers to custom menus, every aspect of the wedding is meticulously planned and executed.
Famous weddings held at Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle has seen its share of high-profile weddings, with some celebrities choosing it as their ideal venue. One of the most notable weddings was that of Pierce Brosnan and Keely Shaye Smith, which had the castle bursting with Hollywood glitz and glamor.
Distinct Features of Ashford Castle
Unique architectural features
In the architecture of Ashford Castle, you can see a unique blend of medieval, gothic revival and modern styles. Elements such as the picturesque turret roofs, ornate stone carvings, and beautiful stained glass windows give the castle its distinctive charm.
Preserved historic elements
Significant efforts have been made to preserve the historic elements of Ashford Castle. Original stone walls, woodwork, and gorgeous fireplaces have been thoroughly restored to their original grandeur. Of particular interest are the medieval chandeliers in the George V Dining Room and the impressive coats of arms adorning the Oak Hall.
Modern renovations and upgrades
While retaining its historical elements, Ashford Castle has also embraced modernity. Recent renovations transformed it into a luxurious estate complete with a state-of-the-art spa, a 32-seater cinema, and an indoor resistance pool.
Food and Dining at Ashford Castle
Notable dining places within the castle
Whether you’re in the mood for some haute cuisine or wish toNibble on some comfort food, Ashford Castle provides you with plenty of dining options. You can enjoy exquisite cuisine at George V Dining Room or savour traditional Irish dishes in the atmospheric Dungeon.
Specialties and cuisine served
The dishes served across all restaurants in the castle are a combination of Irish classics and contemporary creations. From fresh catch-of-the-day to delectable home-grown vegetables, you’ll enjoy a taste of Ireland like never before. What’s worth a mention is the extensive wine list featuring varieties from around the world, curated by the seasoned sommeliers.
Future Plans for Ashford Castle
Proposed developments or renovations
The ongoing mission of the current owners is to not only maintain, but also enhance the grandeur of Ashford Castle. They aim to balance conservation efforts with the introduction of modern amenities that complement the castle experience.
Upcoming events or festivals at the castle
To keep the castle alive and vibrant, a range of exciting events and celebrations are regularly planned. From traditional music sessions to afternoon tea events, each affair adds a touch of excitement and enables guests to experience the castle culture.
Future prospects for Ashford Castle
With its continued investment in renovations, associations with renowned global organisations, the prospects for Ashford Castle look bright. Its growing popularity amongst global tourists, celebrities, and history enthusiasts ensures its continued status as an iconic and cherished landmark of Ireland.