Learn the wonderful story behind the Castles, Hotels and Manors used on this bespoke itinerary of the best of Ireland
Clontarf Castle Hotel:
History: Clontarf area became a significant location in Irish History, more than a century before the Castle was built. Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, and the famous Battle of Clontarf, on Good Friday, 23rd April 1014, will always be associated with and central to the history of the Clontarf area. At the time of The Battle of Clontarf, the Clontarf area was wooded with a river flowing by. Many of the rivers in the history of Dublin no longer flow through the same area, as they were re-routed when the city was walled. In 1172 Adam de Phepoe or Hugh de Lacy built the Castle as an inner circle of defence sites protecting Dublin.
George Handel – Regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era, Handel was a regular guest at the castle during the Dublin premiere of his famous work Messiah. Captivated by Dorothy “Dolly” Vernon, lady of Clontarf Castle’s charms, Handel would compose Forest Music in her honour.
Abraham “Bram” Stoker – Just a short walk away from Clontarf Castle Hotel sits an elegant townhouse with a bright red door. It was inside 15 The Crescent that a child’s imagination began to swirl around dark and eerie Gothic tales, learned at bedtime by his mother’s rocking chair. Born in 1847 and author of Dracula, Bram Stoker remains one of the most famous Clontarf residents in history today.
Recently awarded Five Stars by the AA, The Fitzwilliam Hotel is a super-elegant masterpiece located in the heart of the city centre. Fabulous guestrooms, incredible food, a much-loved bar and the best service you’ve ever experienced: A new definition of boutique hotel, it’s Belfast’s five-star superstar. The Fitzwilliam was listed as the fourth most highly rated hotel in Belfast, according to Booking.com. Famous guests: hotel welcomes over 60,000 guests each year, which has included high profile guests such as Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Hillary and President Bill Clinton. Personal touch: The Fitzwilliam Hotel prides itself on its people and the ability to go above and beyond guest expectations. Recently, when a customer arrived at the hotel and realized she had forgotten her formal dress for the evening (with no time to spare), a member of our reception team went home and came back with a choice of three gowns for her to choose from! A member of our concierge team also drove halfway to Dublin to reunite one of their youngest guests with his favourite teddy bear; much to the relief of Mum and Dad!
Recommended: Upgrade to Signature View King room. Here is a room that is so good; it has it’s name all over it. High up over the city on our 8th floor, a Fitzwilliam Hotel signature room is the essence of five-star comfort. A room dominated by that big, comfy bed and that quirky blue or pink couch in front of the big picture window. Speaking of which, look at the view: that’s Belfast’s Cave Hill and if you peer carefully from your bed you can see Napoleon’s Nose, as the strange rock formation is known.
Beech Hill Country House
Just two miles from the Culture Capital that is Derry, Beech Hill is perfectly located to give you both a city break and country escape all in one!
History: 400 years of History at Beech Hill. Aptly named due to endless amount of Beech trees surrounding the building, the original Beech Hill House was built alongside the historic Derry walls back in the 17th century, and it was believed the owner Captain Thomas Skipton was heavily involved in construction of the famous walls.
During World War II Beech Hill was home to over 750 US Marines when it became the European basecamp for the US Navy. You can still find two of the original Quonset huts, where the Marines slept, onsite today. We even created a museum in the hotel to celebrate the US Navy’s time in Derry/Londonderry, and if you want to hear more why not book in a walking tour of the 32 acre estate during your visit, just ask us at reception for more details.
In 1989 Beech Hill became the warm and welcoming country house hotel it is today with 28 beautiful decorated guestrooms each with their own individual story & character.
Walled Garden: We have proudly restored one of the oldest walled gardens in the country & brought it back to life – it now supplies the kitchen at Beech Hill with homegrown vegetables, fruits and herbs just like it would have done 200 years ago! For years the walled garden lay idle and overgrown until the discovery of an old cookbook from Mrs. Skipton, a previous owner was discovered and inspired the team to start farming the walled gardens again and to embrace Mrs Skipton’s cooking concepts in our kitchen today. The kitchen team design all our dishes around what is harvested from the garden coupled with the best of local meat, fish & game to give the most authentic Irish dining experience to both Ardmore Restaurant and Sixteen22 Gastro Pub.
Recommended: Lady Isabella’s Afternoon Tea. It is in honour of, and an ode to, Lady Isabella – the original lady of the house at Beech Hill! Poor Lady Isabella, after an arranged marriage and 9 years of silence from her new husband is it any wonder she became a baking connoisseur? Inspired by Lady Isabella’s favourites we created our delicious Afternoon Tea – easy on the eye and promises to satisfy, unlike her husband…
Lough Eske Castle Hotel
A long list of enviable and prestigious awards has been received by Lough Eske Castle Hotel including being named in Condé Nast’s, Ireland’s top ten luxury hotels 2018, Ulster Wedding Venue of the Year 2017, Luxury Hotel of the Year 2017, Ulster Spa of the year 2016, Travelers Choice Award 2016, Luxury Castle Hotel & Spa of the year 2016, Venue Coordinator of the Year 2016.
Lough Eske has a long history, which is wrapped in the story of Co. Donegal and Ireland. It is a story of being carved piece by piece from local stone carried by Clydesdale horses along specially constructed roadways. It is a tale of being won, lost, ruined and restored. Powerful 14th-century clans of Donegal, the O’Donnells, had their seat here, wealthy landowners ruled from here and Edwardian glamour was played out.
Recommended: The Father Browne Bar. Father Browne is generally considered to be Ireland’s most important photographer of the twentieth century. Often known as ‘Father Browne of the Titanic’, it was his obedience to his Provincial’s order to “get off that ship” that prevented Father Browne from travelling on the final part of the voyage and possibly saved him from a watery grave. Disembarking at Cobh ensured international fame when, following the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic, his photographs were published on front pages all around the world. His images of the Titanic remain uniquely important to this day. Over 200 of the greatest images taken by the extraordinary Father ‘Titanic’ Browne have been remastered and are displayed in the Father Browne Bar at Lough Eske Castle where visitors may enjoy a drink and a bite to eat surrounded by a stunning collection by one of the twentieth centuries greatest photographers. Stone floors, soft leather booths, black and white photos of times gone by creating a cosy place for spending a leisurely evening with a drink and a friend, or just your newspaper. With an extensive list of beers, wines, cocktails and whiskeys to choose from as well as plenty of nooks and corners to settle into, it can prove quite difficult to tear yourself away from this superb Donegal bar!
Knockranny House Hotel
Beautifully-appointed on secluded grounds overlooking the picturesque Co Mayo town of Westport, with wonderful views of Croagh Patrick, the islands of Clew Bay’s and the Nephin mountain range, Knockranny House Hotel is a proper destination hotel.
Recommended: La Fougère, the recently refurbished restaurant at Knockranny House Hotel, impressed with its impeccable food and became the ultimate winner of Hotel Restaurant of the Year at 2018 FOOD&WINE Awards. The recent redesign at La Fougère, undertaken by Westport-based interior designer Emma Minish, exudes 1920s glamour and big screen elegance. With pieces designed by local tradesmen, the restaurant ties together the timeless charm of the past with the drama of the Westport scenery. La Fougère prides itself on using only high quality, local ingredients. The fresh fish found on the menu is caught and landed daily, whilst the beef and lamb used is reared nearby. Even more impressive is that the majority of the fruit and vegetables used in the delicious dishes at La Fougère are grown on site in Knockranny House Hotel’s garden. The impressive dining at La Fougère is matched by the spectacular scenery of Westport, Co. Mayo. Situated on a secluded hillside, Knockranny House Hotel offers one-of-a-kind views of Croagh Patrick, Clew Bay and the Nephin Mountains. These unparalleled views frame the dining experience at La Fougère, offering a unique way to enjoy your meal.
The Brehon Bar at Knockranny is a characterful oak panelled bar, perfect for relaxing beside the open fire with a smooth pint while reading the newspaper or chatting over a few drinks in the bar’s warm atmosphere.
Ballynahinch Castle Hotel
Voted one of the Top 10 Resort Hotels in the UK & Ireland by Travel & Leisure 2018, Best Four Star Hotel 2018, Gold Medal Awards, Best Destination Hotel 2018, Hospitality Ireland Awards.
Activities: you can do so much and never leave the grounds; such is the choice of unique activities available in the heart of beautiful Connemara. Hiking our popular trails, taking a fly-fishing tutorial, biking, or simply sitting in the tranquillity of the grounds listening to the song of the river as it makes its interminable journey to the sea; there are so many things to do and ways to engage with Connemara. One of the great advantages is that all these activities are easily accessible without difficulty and delivered by professional and enthusiastic guides. Every morning one of our experienced fishing guides, and our walking guide Noel are available in Fishermen’s Pub at 9.30am for a coffee and a chat. Whether you have already booked an activity, want to do so or are simply seeking advice; they will ensure that your day gets off to a great start.
Famous guests: Ballynahinch Castle has for decades been a place of inspiration and retreat for some of Ireland leading writers, poets and artists. Writers such as Margaret Atwood and Edna O’Brien, poets including Seamus Heaney, Peter Fallon and Michael Longley and artists such as Donald Teskey, Dorothy Cross and Cecil Maguire have all been regular guests at Ballynahinch.
Recommended: The Owenmore Restaurant offers elegant yet unpretentious dining in a stunning location. Using only the finest and freshest ingredients, Pete and his team take advantage of the wealth of fresh fish, and game available on the West Coast, to produce wonderfully balanced yet creative dishes. Dinner in the Owenmore Restaurant is one of the highlights of any trip to Ballynahinch Castle. Changing the menus with the seasons ensures that regular visitors to Ballynahinch can enjoy a varied and interesting selection of dishes. The Fisherman’s Pub with open log fires, wholesome local produce and friendly personal service is the ideal place to meet the Connemara locals over a pint or enjoy the catch of the day for dinner.
Recommended: Upgrade to beautiful Riverside Suite, enjoy unrivalled comfort with spectacular views over river and woodland.
Recommended: Fly- fishing at the Castle Fishery. All fishing at Ballynahinch is by fly only. This should not however deter anglers who have never fly fished before. Experienced guides are available to teach all aspects of the sport and make your Ballynahinch fishing experience all the more enjoyable.
Cahernane House Hotel
History: In 1656, two Herbert brothers arrived in Killarney from England. Both had fought in the War of the Roses and were gifted lands in county Killarney, Co. Kerry. One brother was given the Muckross Estate and the other was given the smaller estates of Cullen and Cahernane. The Herbert families ran these estates for the following five generations. By the 1860s, Cahernane was in the hands of Henry Herbert. Appearances were of utmost importance to the families who ran the ‘Big Houses’ in Ireland and Cahernane was serviced by a large number of staff including horsemen, boatmen, gardeners, game-keepers and domestic staff. However when Henry married Catherine Stewart she was not at all happy with the house and particularly the sanitary arrangements; which at that time consisted of a row of outdoor ‘closets’ attended by a servant known as ‘Patsy the Bucket’. It’s not difficult to understand Catherine’s unease so in order to appease her, Henry had the original classic Queen Anne style house demolished in 1877 to make way for a more modern Victorian mansion – the house of today.
Recommended: Located in the basement of the hotel, The Cellar Bar occupies the original wine cellar of the house. Cosy and inviting, and difficult to leave; we have an extensive selection of beers, spirits and wines for you to enjoy. Curl up by the fire with a good book or recount the tales of your day’s exploring while enjoying your favourite tipple. We are proud to stock locally produced beers from the Killarney Brewing Company. All their beers are named after local myths and legends, evoking emotions of all things Killarney. There is a selection of light bites, main courses and pastries served daily from 12:30-6pm.
Recommended: The Herbert Restaurant at Cahernane House Hotel epitomizes the style and grandeur of the original house and commands beautiful views over the surrounding landscape. The restaurant is complete with luxury furnishings, flooring and fittings. Our beautiful Bushfield Interior curtains frame the stunning views over the Tomies and Purple Mountains. Our grandeur twinkling Chandeliers are from Tara Crystal Chandeliers. The intricate wallpaper is from Lewis and Wood, London and silver cutlery is from Robert Welch. The perfect surroundings and ambiance to match our exquisite dining. Dinner is served each evening in The Herbert Dining Room. Recently awarded 2 AA Rossettes in recognition of culinary excellence, The Herbert Dining Room uses the finest locally sourced seasonal produce.
Recommended: Upgrade to a Manor House Room. Located in the original manor house, there are 12 rooms, each packed with individual charm and character showcasing period features such as sash windows, high ceilings and elegant mouldings. The rich colour palettes and sumptuous furnishings are evocative of a bygone era.
Since it’s opening in 1996, Hayfield Manor 5 Star Hotel in Cork City has been recognised for providing a high quality product and exceptional service. This is reflected in the various awards with which Hayfield Manor has been honoured. The estate, in the heart of Cork city, was originally owned by the Musgrave family, the famous Cork merchants. The current owners, the Scally Family, purchased the estate from the Musgrave family and established Cork’s first 5 star hotel. As a family owned and managed hotel, the personal yet professional service that is delivered has become synonymous with Hayfield Manor, and ensures guests enjoy their stay with us in Cork city.
Hayfield Manor are the proud winners of the Commitment to Quality Award from Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Hayfield Manor were the overall world wide winner from over 520 hotels in the SLH brand.
Some of the most prestigious awards, of which Hayfield Manor Hotel Cork are most proud of, include;
• An affiliation of Lucinda O’Sullivan’s Great Places to Stay 2019
• Rachel O’Malley, Awarded Best Therapist at the Irish Tatler Spa Awards 2018
• Number 1 Hotel in Cork on TripAdvisor
• Irish Beauty Industry Awards- Resident Spa of the Year 2018
• Costco Travel- Preferred Partner Award
• Best Front of House in Munster at Yes Chef Awards 2018
• Highly Commended 5 Star Hotel at the Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards 2018
• AA Five Star Hotel 2018
• Perrotts Garden Bistro received Two Rosettes in 2018 for Culinary Experience from the AA
• TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice award 2018- Ranked 4th top hotel in Ireland
• TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice award 2017- Ranked 5th top hotel in Ireland
• TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice award 2017- Ranked 7th top hotel in Ireland
• Best Hotel Restaurant Ireland award by Yes Chef Magazine 2015
• Best Front of House in Munster & Ireland 2015
History: Although Hayfield Manor has only been part of the hospitality industry with the past 20 years, the five star hotel located in Cork city is steeped in history with its story dating back to the early 1800’s. It all began many years ago when Richard Perrott married Hannah Mary Barnes in 1815. Richard and Hannah lived at Hayfield Manor, and they had thirteen children between 1816 and 1843. Richard Perrott went on to become the sole owner of the Hive Iron Works in Cork, one of the most important of its time, in place of his Father-in-law. The estate which lies in the heart of Cork City, located beside University College Cork, was subsequently owned by the Musgrave family, the famous Cork merchants. The Musgrave family company is a wholesaler that supplies groceries to a network of franchisees who take over the running of its retail brands. These retail brands range from Supervalu and Centra in Ireland, Budgens and Londis in the UK and Dialprix in Spain. The history of the Musgraves dates back to 1876, when brothers Thomas and Stuart Musgrave set up a trading company in Cork. Over the years, they have been involved in many sectors, including tea, sweets, and hotels, before finally settling on running cash-and-carry’s and supplying the grocery trade.
Hayfield house fell into a state of disrepair until the Scally Family took it over and rebuilt the hotel to five star standard in 1995. The hotel opened its doors to the public and began welcoming guests in 1996 and to this day remains Cork city’s premier five star hotel. The hotel’s popular casual dining restaurant, Perrott’s Garden Bistro, is named in honour of Richard Perrott. The Scally Family have also honoured tradition of the property by maintaining and developing Hayfield Manor with all the ambience and charm of the traditional manor house.
Recommended: Afternoon Tea. Indulge in an Award Winning Afternoon Tea at Hayfield Manor Hotel. Relax in Orchids Restaurant to the subtle tones of a classical piano and soak up the Manor atmosphere as you enjoy a delicious assortment of pastries and cakes freshly prepared in our Patisserie. You are free to choose your favourite tea blend.
Recommended: The Beautique Spa at the Hayfield Manor. Relax the body and mind, and revive the soul at Hayfield Manor’s Beautique Spa, one of the best spas in Cork City. As you enter the Beautique Spa at Hayfield Manor, feel your senses soothed by the heat that cocoons you and the fragrant aroma of the luxurious ELemis Spa Products.
Waterford Castle Hotel ( The Island Resort)
Perfectly positioned on an estuary of the River Suir just one mile down river from Waterford City, the Island Resort enjoys idyllic seclusion and privacy, while at the same time conveniently located very close to Waterford City centre. The Island Resort operates a private car ferry providing a constant 24/7 service to and from the Island to the Waterford mainland, with a journey time of just two minutes. The ferry departs every 15mins from the hour from 7am to 10pm, and every 30mins throughout the night from 10pm to 7am. The ferry is included in the Resort Facilities fee so there is no direct charge for guests or visitors to the Island.
History: The first structure built by the Fitzgerald’s was a Norman Keep; a tower like stone structure with thick walls, narrow slit windows and a lead roof. At that time the Keep would have been the core of any defence in battle and would have been virtually impenetrable. By the 14th century, the ruins of the Keep were no longer habitable. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Fitzgerald dynasty were the Kings of Ireland in all but name and held many feasts and banquets on The Island. Edward Fitzgerald was the great, great uncle of Mary Augusta de Lisle Purcell Fitzgerald (1908-1968), who was the last of that name to own the Castle, ending their 800 year legacy. She married an Italian Prince, Prince Caracciolo, whom she met while studying in Italy. In 1958 the Igoe family who came from County Mayo yet had business interests in Rhodesia, bought the property from the Princess Caracciolo, thus ending the remarkable link between the Fitzgerald’s and The Island. The Igoe’s installed a five-acre complex of glasshouses from which they produced fruits and flowers. The chain link ferry was also commissioned at this time conveniently transporting residents and visitors alike to The Island across the Kings Channel. The current owner, Seamus Walsh, purchased The Island in 2015. A local man from Mullinavat, Co. Kilkenny who along with his family embrace this historic Island and great Castle.
Recommended: Falconry Experience. Even before recorded history, our ancestors flew birds of prey. From the steppes of Asia to medieval Europe, from 5000 yrs. ago to the present day, Falconry Experience has become a way of life for Falconers around the world. Waterford Castle Ireland offer you the opportunity to privately fly a trained hawk on our beautiful grounds. Your Private Falconry skill will begin with an introduction to the Hawk you are about to fly. Our falconer will brief you on a 5000 year history of the ancient art of falconry. You will set off on a walk as your hawk follows you, watching your every move. Your falconer will teach you how to recall the hawk from the tree tops to your gloved hand and send him back to the trees again. During the walk, your falconer will work with you to ensure you get some amazing photo and video opportunities as you call the hawk several times to your gloved hand.To finish up your falconry experience you will be introduced to one or possibly two of our owls.As you fly the owl, your falconer will teach you about the species and their habitat.The owls are super cute, very photogenic and they do love an owl selfie!
Delighted to be crowned 2019 Irish Hospitality Awards – Best Hotel Resort of the Year and to “continue delivering outstanding levels of guest service to our guests.”
• 2019 Global Luxury Hotel & Spa Awards hosted by LUXlife magazine, Ireland’s Leading Luxury Spa Hotel
• 2018 World Luxury Spa Awards, Best Luxury Resort Spa in Northern Europe
• 2018 Ireland’s Beauty Industry Awards, Best Luxury Spa
• 2016 World Luxury Spa Awards, Best Luxury Resort Spa
• 2016 World Travel Awards, Ireland’s Leading Hotel
• 2016/16 AA Hotel of the Year
• 2015 IMAGE Business of Beauty Awards, Best Spa
• 2015 Best Golf Resort Hotel Worldwide, Hotel of the Year Awards
Recommended: Upgrade to Mountain View Suite. Spectacular would be one word to describe our 35 exquisite Mountain View Suites available throughout the hotel. Stunning views across the Sugar Loaf Mountain and Wicklow’s rolling landscape beyond are available for discerning guests throughout the hotel. These striking suites feature the comfort of a separate lounge area, with some opening onto a terrace or balcony too.
Recommended: Sika Restaurant. Sika won Best Hotel Restaurant in Wicklow and Best Wine Experience in Wicklow at the Leinster finals of the Irish Restaurant Awards on 1st March. Situated on the third floor of the Hotel, Sika’s dramatic floor-to-ceiling glass windows take full advantage of the pyramidal Sugar Loaf Mountain.