Ashford Castle:  An Incredible 13th Century Structure with a Magnificent Irish History

Whether you're just hoping for a glimpse of the grand Ashford Castle or you're staying there overnight, you'll find it in Western Ireland north of the city of Galway.

Ashford Castle and Gardens

Situated in Mayo County and Connacht Province, the Castle is easy to find thanks to plenty of signposts in the area. From the Dublin Airport, drive for nearly two hours along the M6.

Exit north on the N18 and you should arrive in less than an hour.

Things to Know About Ashford Castle

Here are some fun facts about this amazing Irish landmark.  Hopefully they will entice you to pay a visit in person!

But if that is not possible, you can always use them to impress your friends with your knowledge of one of the most-visited attractions in Ireland.

  • This enormous medieval structure is one of the grandest and most beautiful castles found in Ireland.
  • Construction on the Castle in County Mayo started all the way back in 1288, and at one point the castle was owned by the Guinness family.
  • Multiple families and entities have owned the castle over the centuries, enhancing and expanding the overall structure and grounds.
  • The castle grounds formed the backdrop for many scenes in the 1952 movie The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.
  • If you want to splurge on unforgettable accommodation, Ashford Castle is now an upscale hotel ranked as one of the best in the world.
  • Stay there for medieval architecture as well as spa treatments, fine dining, fishing and golf.
  • The enormous medieval stone structure is an incredible landmark, but it's not the only building to have existed on the site. In 1715, a chateau was built to look like a hunting lodge.
  • The secondary structure is still there, although it has been seriously updated in the centuries since. Look for the building with the double-headed eagles perched on the roof, which signify the Brownes family coat of arms.
  • In the 19th century, the castle was bought by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness. Yes, of that Guinness family! What could be more Irish than having a connection to Guinness beer?
  • Guinness' son, Lord Ardilaun, is largely responsible for the stunning gardens on the castle property. Lord Ardilaun was an avid gardener who added in woodlands and made the exterior of the building as beautiful as the interior.
  • In 1939, the Ashford Castle was given by the Guinness family to the Irish government. Since then, it has not been a private residence. Instead, it's been used as a movie filming location, hotel and golf course.
  • Even if you've never been to there, you might recognize it from television. The castle is the primary filming location for the TV show Reign, a popular historical drama found on the CW channel.
  • In 2013, the castle was purchased a major hotel chain. The subsequent renovation was extensive, breathing life into this previously neglected castle.
  • Today, Ashford Castle is a true luxury resort. Guests will have access to a private cinema, a billiards room, a lavish spa and even a cigar terrace that overlooks the property.
  • Not a guest of the resort, but still want to visit? Your best bet is to head to Mrs Tea's Boutique and Bakery. This charming shop is a great place to enjoy a drink, shop for castle souvenirs and soak in great views of the castle itself.

You can find more information at the official website here.

Want More Irish Castles?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish castles!  The Emerald Isle is dotted with hundreds of these incredible structures.  

Sharing pictures and stories about them gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

We have captured the most amazing pictures and descriptions of Irish castles in an e-book we call "An Illustrated Guide to Irish Castles and Abbeys."

This fun, free guide is available to you to download.  Scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email to get instant access!

That Was Fun!  Where Can I See More?

Great question! As you can see, exploring the castles of Ireland offers many opportunities for enjoying an Irish experience and expressing your personal Irish side!

For more information of this kind, you might pay a visit to our section on Ireland Sightseeing here!

Your Personal Irish Expression

One way to share your love of Ireland is by displaying your family coat of arms (family crest).  A very personal symbol of the stories and accomplishments of your ancestors can adorn clothing, kitchenware, wall art, personal accessories and so much more. 

Want to have a look?  Our friends at House of Names can help! 

Tap the button below and see your family crest for free!

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A Note from Bruce

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However you choose to connect, we would love to hear from you!  Meanwhile, thanks for visiting!  I hope that we will meet someday, in person or online, and you can tell me about your own connection to the Emerald Isle.

Until then, best wishes -

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