Hotel & Country Estate.
Founded in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family to be their principal stronghold, the original Castle of Cong remained ruled for some 350 years before Queen Elizabeth I recertified the Castle as a British fortress in 1589. Ownership then turned to the Oranmore and Browne family in 1715, who first named it Ashford Castle. They were responsible for the building of a French château at the centre part of the Castle.
Later, in 1852, Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness purchased Ashford and extended the estate to 26,000 acres, building new roads and planting thousands of trees and adding two large Victorian style extensions. The estate and Castle then passed to his son Lord Ardilaun in 1868; who welcomed the Prince of Wales in 1905, for which the George V Dining Room and Prince of Wales Bar were built to celebrate. In 1915 Ashford was retained by the Iveagh Trust on behalf of the Guinness family until it was leased by Noel Huggard in 1939. Huggard established the Castle as a first class hotel renowned for the provision of its country pursuits. As a hotel it changed hands many times, notably in 1970 by renowned hotelier John Mulcahy who developed the golf course, and in 1985 by a group of Irish American investors. In 2008 the hotel was bought by local entrepreneur Gerry Barrett.
Since 2013, Ashford Castle is part of Red Carnation Hotel Collection and has been lovingly restored to fully reflect the Castle’s extensive history and Irish heritage. Ashford Castle was voted in 2015 the Best Hotel in the World, by Virtuoso.
The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara and directed by the legendary John Ford, is a 1951 romantic love story. The Quiet Man was filmed in and around the village of Cong, Co Mayo including much of the grounds of Ashford Castle. The film received a total of seven Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars. Guests can visit many of the film locations including The Quiet Man Cottage Museum and Pat Cohen’s Bar, complete with replica of the interiors featured in the film. Alternatively, guests can sit back and rekindle The Quiet Man experience in the Castle’s luxurious cinema.
Ireland’s School of Falconry
Ireland’s School of Falconry was founded in 1999 and is the oldest established Falconry School in Ireland. Home to the largest and most diverse collection of Harris hawks, it offers guests the chance to fly hawks around the spectacular Ashford Castle grounds and woodlands. Six instructors are on hand all year round to introduce guests to the 20 Harris hawks a species renowned for its’ easy-going temperament and unusually sociable nature, one Eurasian eagle owl and four falcons who all call the Falconry School their home. A hawk walk is highly recommended.