Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ashford Castle

Another fairytale property on my bucket list. An aristocratic residence turned resort! This is the Ashford Castle in Ireland.  Located 27 miles north of Galway.  It is distinguished from a palace not by its lack of grandeur but by the fact it was originally constructed to be a fortress as well as a residence.

The castle dates back to the 1200s when its original structure was built by the Anglo Norman House of Burke. The de Burgos (who surname became Burke) lost the property some three hundred years later to England's Lord President of Connaught, Sir Richard Bingham.

The property passed to the Browne family in the 1670s.  The Brownes established the estate of Ashford in 1715 and added a French style Chateau and a hunting lodge.  In 1852; the Guinness family (yes, the brewers of the beer; still loved today), purchased the property.

 Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness; started shaping the estate into its present form by adding a Victorian wing to the residence and purchasing an additional 26,000 acres.

Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness

He also had roads constructed and planted thousands of trees.  His son, Arthur, who was the first Baron Ardilaun, made numerous additional improvements to Ashford castle.

Connaught Room

He hired architects James Franklin Fuller and George Ashlin who designed a new east wing that connected to the early 18th Century part and added battlements to the entire structure. Lord Ardilaun's nephew, Ernest inherited the estate and he in turn transferred it to the Irish Government.

In 1939 a hotel was opened by Noel Huggard.  In 1970 the castle was purchased by a young property investor John F. Mulcahy who doubled its size with a new wing and building a golf course.  He continued to operate a resort at Ashford Castle until he sold it in 1985.

After a series of owners Ashford Castle was purchased by its present owner, The Red Carnation Hotels in 2012. Major renovations, including new windows and a lead roof and repaired stonework were completed and the property reopened in April 2015.

Luxurious pool-spa added in 2015
 On its website, the hotel boasts almost a new window for every year of the castle's 800 plus year history!  For more information, visit AshfordCastle.com

The 32 plush velvet seat cinema was added in 2014

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