Ashford Castle, Co. Galway
Cong Castle was originally built in 1228 by the O'Connors, and added to by several parties to become Ashford Castle today.
Ashford Castle is set on the northern shores of Lough Corrib amidst acres
of beautiful gardens and forests.
Once the country estate of Lord Ardilaun and
the Guinness family, it was transformed into a luxury hotel in 1939. The
castle's Great Hall is lavishly decorated with rich panelling, fine period
pieces, objets d'art and masterpiece paintings. Guest rooms are of the
highest standards and many feature high ceilings, enormous bathrooms and
delightful lake views. The main dining room offers superb continental and
traditional menus, while the gourmet restaurant, The Connaught Room,
specialises in excellent French cuisine. Before and after dinner in the
Dungeon Bar guests are entertained by a harpist or pianist. Ashford Castle
offers a full range of country sports, including fishing on Lough Corrib,
clay pigeon shooting, riding and an exclusive 9-hole golf course. The hotel
has just added a health centre comprising a whirlpool, sauna, steam room,
fully equipped gymnasium and conservatory. Ashford is an ideal base for
touring the historic West Ireland, places like Kylemore Abbey and Westport
House, Sligo and Drumcliffe Churchyard, the burial place of W.B. Yeats.
Directions: 30 minutes from Galway on the shore of Lough Corrib, on the
left when entering the village of Cong.
Athlone Castle, Co. Westmeath
Athlone (Ath Luain - the Ford of Luan) is situated on the principal fording
point of the middle Shannon. In 1129 King Turlough O'Connor recognised it's
strategic importance and built a wooden castle here.
In 1210 King John of England ordered the building of a stone castle and
bridge. The Castle was built by John de Gray, Bishop of Norwich.
The Castle is now a focal point for tourism and visitors and it features
exhibitions and audio visual presentations.