Ashford Castle, Cong in Co. Mayo

Ashford Castle on the shores of Lough Corrib was built in the 12th century by the Anglo Norman family, the De Burgo’s. The following generations added and expanded the castle and in 1715 the Oranmore and Browne family founded the Ashford Estate.

Over a hundred years later in 1852 Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness purchased the Ashford Estate. His son Lord Ardilaun inherited Ashford in 1868 and is responsible for the numerous woodland areas on the estate. On his death in 1915 the Ashford Estate went to the Iveagh Trust.

It was purchased in 1939 by Noel Huggard and converted into a hotel. 1970 saw the hotel sold to John Mulcahy who further developed this aspect of the castle. A consortium of investors then purchased it in 1985 and two million pounds was spent bringing the castle to its present state of opulence A mixture of past and present, the castles lofty panelled ceilings, knights in armour, battlements, crystal chandeliers and paintings exist alongside the trappings of a luxury hotel. The hotel’s parkland covers three hundred and fifty acres where activities such as golf, falconry, tennis, archery, shooting, horseback riding, and fishing can be enjoyed.

The castle has had a long list of famous and distinguished guests; it was the place of residence for many of the actors who starred in the film “The Quiet Man”, made in 1951 in Cong. The grounds around the estate were used in several of the scenes. Presently Ashford Castle is regarded as one of the world’s top hotels.

By Bernie O'Malley