by Mary Gallagher–
While one is enjoying the beautiful green hills and lush woodlands of Ireland, nothing tops the thrill of coming around a corner or seeing your accommodations across a body of water and that destination is a castle!
We dreamed of staying in a castle even before Downton Abbey and Highclere made it so desirable.
Ireland has spectacular hotels from the contemporary Dylan in Dublin to the luxurious Powerscourt at Wicklow and spectacular castles. You can stay as we did in all these unique properties plus many more of various styles and size enhancing your touring experience.
I knew Ireland was a great place to be when at one inn, in particular, the host asked at breakfast if I’d care for some Bailey’s Irish Cream on my oatmeal! How fast can one say yes and find a new habit so indulgent?
Waking up in one of the 98 rooms at the 16th century Dromoland Castle is as grand an experience as being a duchess or some other royalty. The amenities, including golf, a spa, the fine food and wine, luxurious decor, 450 acres of grounds and all that history will keep you busy and entranced. You may want to casually peer out the windows to check for famous celebrities but check out these new nature walks first. Walking is good way to work off clotted cream, Irish beer and more.
An illustrated map leads guests around the grounds for an intimate look at the beautiful gardens surrounding Dromoland Castle, and points out some of the interesting and historical features along the way, like the Statue of Mercury and the Hermit’s Grotto.
Entering the red brick walled garden, guests should note the front gate inscription; it dates to 1648 and records the building of the doorway by Conor O’Brien and his wife Mary McMahon, well known in legends as Maire Rua.
Inside, the garden is divided into three sections, the walls of the first and second date from the time of Queen Anne (1702-1714) and the orchard section is believed to be Elizabethan (1558-1603).
Not-to-miss features include the linear water feature, and amid the rose bed where the “Lady Ethel” pink climbing rose honors Lady Inchiquin, the Lord Inchiquin-designed sundial. Engraved on it are the touching words “Not night but day abide, and as time’s shadows earthwards cast light upon the other side not grief but joy remain.”
The Garden Walk, also known as the Red Walk, meanders about 1.5 miles and can be walked in 50 minutes.
Celtic Noble Tree Walk
The Celts who lived here in 800 B.C. had a special affinity with trees, as they were essential to their very existence, providing wood, tools, food and bark (used for dye). The trees were protected by law and their seeding was supervised.
Trees were divided into three groups: the Nobles, Commoners and Lesser Divisions, and seven of the Noble trees can be found here at Dromoland Castle, planted lovingly in groupings. The walk takes visitors through the changing landscape encircling Dromoland Castle past the Hazel, Holly, Scots Pine, Oak, Ash, Yew and Wild Apple trees, and interesting facts and histories of each are found within the guide map.
For example, three of the great legendary trees of Ancient Ireland were Ash: Bile Tortan, Craeb Daithi and Bile Uisneg, and Ash wood is used to make the hurleys for the national game of Hurling. The famed long bows were made of Yew, and the Wild Apple was use in healing rituals by the Druids. After this walk, visitors may never look at trees the same way again.
The Celtic Noble Tree Walk, also known as the Green Walk, spans 1.3 miles and can be walked in 45 minutes.
About Dromoland Castle:
Dromoland Castle, located in Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, is majestically set on the shores of Lough Dromoland, and surrounded by over 450 acres of breathtaking scenery, including a championship parkland golf course. The Dromoland Castle Golf and Country Club, an intimate spa and traditional outdoor recreational opportunities ensure all a unique guest experience.
The sister property, The Inn at Dromoland, is located on 21 adjacent acres, features 150 rooms and a banqueting center hosting up to 400 guests.
The hotel can be contacted at 011.353.61.368144 or in the US at 1.800.346.7007