Ashford Castle is a medieval castle that has expanded over the centuries and turned into a five-star luxury hotel near Cong on the Mayo – Galway border on the beach avLough Corrib in Ireland. It is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World organization and was previously owned by the Guinness family.

The early history

A castle was built on the edge of a monastic site in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman House of Burke. [1]

After more than three and a half centuries in Burgos, whose surname became Burke or Bourke, Ashford passed into the hands of a new champion, after a fierce battle between the forces of Burgos and the English official Sir Richard Bingham, Lord President of Connaught when a ceasefire was agreed.In 1589 the castle fell to Bingham, who added a fortified enclave within its range. [ Citation needed ]

Dominick Browne, of Browne Family (Baron Oranmore) got the farm in a Royal Grant either 1670 or 1678. [2] In 1715, the estate of Ashford established by the Browne family and a hunting lodge in the style of a 17th century French chateau was constructed. The double-headed eagles still visible on the roof represents the arms of Browne. [1]

In the late 18th century a branch of the family inhabited the castle. In the early 19th century, a Thomas Elwood was an agent of Brownes at Ashford and registered as living there in 1814. [3]

Victorian conversion

The estate was bought in 1852 by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness from congested Estates’ Court. [4] He added two large Victorian-style extensions. [1] He also expanded the farm to 26,000 acres (110 km 2 ), built new roads and planted thousands of trees. The castle was designed for Sir William Wilde book on County Galway. [5] On Benjamin’s death in 1868, the estate passed to his son, Lord Ardilaun, which expanded further building in the Gothic Revival style.[4]

Lord Ardilaun was an avid gardener who oversaw the development of the massive woodlands and rebuilt the entire west wing of the palace, designed by architects James Franklin Fuller and George Ashlin. The new design connected the early 18th century in the east part of the two-Burgo-time tower in the west. Pinnacles added to the whole castle. [1]

He also subsidized the operation of several steamboats, the most notable of these was Lady Eglinton, who twisted between the villages of Upper Lough Corrib and Galway City region, opening the area to boost trade. In a time of agitation of the tenants in the Country war in the late 19th century, epitomized by the action of tenants at nearby Lough Mask House (home of Captain Charles Boycott), he is considered by many to be an “improvement” landlord. Some of his efforts failed, especially Cong Canal, also known as “Dry Canal”, which was built to link the Lough Mask and Lough Corrib, but was a failure, because of their inability to hold water. Despite such setbacks, love worn by him and his wife Olive, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Bantry, the castle and the estate was deep and is best symbolized by the fact that when he was knighted in 1880, he derives his title from the island of Ardilaun, which formed part of the estate on Lough Corrib. [ citation needed ]


The castle passed to Ardilaun’s nephew Ernest Guinness. [ Citation needed ] It was gifted to the Irish government in 1939. [4]

Noel Huggard opened the courtyard of a hotel, which became famous for the provision of country pursuits such as fishing and shooting. Noel Huggard parents had been in the hotel business iWaterville, since 1910, and his grand daughters, Louise and Paula, run the Butler Arms Hotel there today. [ Citation needed ]

In 1951, director John Ford came to the West of Ireland to film The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. The grounds of the castle, as well as nearby Cong, formed the backdrop for much of the plot of the movie.

In recent years, the castle has been used as a set of “French Court” in The CW’s hit medieval drama Reign . The castle and surrounding grounds a prominent place in the first three seasons of drama, with actors and film workers return year on year to film on the farm. [ Citation needed ]

In 1970 the castle was bought by John Mulcahy, who oversaw its complete restoration and expansion, doubling its size with the addition of a new wing in the early 1970s, to build a golf course and develop the grounds and gardens. In 1985, a group of Irish American investors, which included Chuck Feeney and Tony O’Reilly, bought Ashford. The castle was sold by these investors in 2007 for 50 million € to Galway-based property investor Gerry Barrett and his family. [6] While some of Barrett extensive property loans would be managed by the Irish National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), Ashford was financed by Bank of Scotland (Ireland), [7] which placed the property in bankruptcy in November 2011, [8] but the hotel continued as a going concern, run by Tifco Hotel Group, an Irish hotel management company. [9] in September 2012, it was voted the best resort in Ireland and the third best in Europe avCondé Nast Traveler. [9]

In October 2012, the hotel put up for sale and are valued at about 25 million €, the hotel is half of what Barrett paid in 2007. Currently 83 bedrooms, including six suites. Barrett’s plan to add another 13 penthouse bedrooms and 30 lodges in the castle grounds have not gone through. [9] In May 2013, people were the hotel was bought by Red Carnation Hotels, a group that owns several other boutique hotels, for € 20 million, the new the owner is planning a major refurbishment and the sale is expected to retain about 160 jobs (high season, dropped to 120 during the low season) [10] on the property.According to the receiver, Ashford Castle was profitable even during the period of bankruptcy. [11] Niall Rochford long time manager of the property, has said that the staff accepted a 20% to 30% paycut to ensure the hotel’s survival. [10]

In January 2014 to the new owners acquired the neighboring Lisloughrey Lodge, with plans to add resort. Ashford Castle itself was scheduled to open March 14 after major renovation that began in early January. [12] [13]

Today, most of the guests come from the US (60 percent, 30 percent in Ireland, 10 per cent from elsewhere)., With Californians account for the largest share of [10]

The castle was reopened in April 2015 following a major refurbishment. All 820 windows were replaced, a new management team installed ceiling and its stone targeted. Approximately € 47m was spent on restoring the property. [14]

In its time the castle has hosted many famous guests, including: King George V and his consort Queen Mary, John Lennon, George Harrison, Oscar Wilde (whose father, Sir William Wilde had an estate adjacent to Ashford, where the author spent a lot of his childhood); President Ronald Reagan, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Senator Ted Kennedy, John Wayne, Brad Pitt, Pierce Brosnan, and Prince Rainier III of Monaco and his wife, Princess Grace.

2011 public road controversy

In September 2011, ordered Gerry Barrett of electric gates installed, and then shut down, blocking a centuries-old public right of way over a bridge near the castle. The road used daily by families living on the farm as well as locals.After a letter to the castle management asking for the right of way to re ignored, a group of 150 concerned locals and Ashford residents protesting against the blocking of the right way. The group was joined by local politicians and Éamon Ó CUÍV, TD [15] Barrett had previously tried to block the protest by charging a higher court injunction. [16]


  1. ^ Jump up to: abcd Ministry of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (2011). An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of County Galway. pp. 100-101. ISBN 978-1-4064-2534-5.
  2. Jump up ^ “estates database: Browne (Castlemagarret)”. NUI Galway.Hämtad22 May 2013.
  3. Jump up ^ “estates database: Ashford Castle”. NUI Galway. Taken 22 maj2013.
  4. ^ Jump up to: abc “Landed estates database: Guinness”. NUI Galway.Hämtad22 May 2013.
  5. Jump up ^ “Moytura”.
  6. Jump up ^ Egan, Claire (2 October 2007). “New owners at Ashford Castle”. Mayo News.
  7. Jump up ^ “Can Nama hotel provides five-star treatment?”. Irish Times. February 26, 2010. Archived from the original December 4, 2010.
  8. Jump up ^ “Ashford Castle goes into voluntary bankruptcy” 29 November 2011. Archived from the original August 29, 2012.
  9. ^ Jump up to: abc “Ashford Castle is on the market again.” Irish Times. On October 31, 2012. Archived from the original November 1, 2012.
  10. ^ Jump up to: abc . Boland, Rosita (8 June 2013) “Niall Rochford, head of Ashford Castle, Cong, Co Mayo.” Irish Times. Archived from the original 20 Oct, 2013. Retrieved 16 August, 2013.
  11. Jump up ^ Fagan, Jack (22 May 2013). “Ashford Castle Hotel Resort was sold for € 20m.” Irish Times. Archived from the original On 1 November, 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  12. Jump up ^ Hancock, Ciarán (25 January 2014). “Ashford Castle owner buys neighboring Lisloughrey Lodge”. Irish Times. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  13. Jump up ^ Deegan, Gordon (13 March 2014). “Revamped Ashford Castle paid € 785,000 in fees.” Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  14. Jump up ^ “Ashford Castle completes its journey from bankruptcy to luxury restoration” .Irish Independent. 14 April 2015. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  15. Jump up ^ “Ó CUÍV goes Ashford Castle protest”. The Irish Times.Archived from the original September 26, 2011.
  16. Jump up ^ “Ashford Castle secures injunction”. RTÉ.ie. 23 September 2011.