Ballynahinch Castle Hotel
At a Glance
- genuine Irish country-house experience
- stunning surroundings
- friendly, enthusiastic staff
- doesn't come cheap
Ballynahinch Castle Hotel Review
More like a rambling country house than a castle, this magnificent crenellated mansion sits beside a river amid 450 wooded acres with a rugged mountain backdrop. Built in the 18th century, Ballynahinch Castle has had several colorful owners, from the legendary O'Flaherty chieftains and Grace O'Malley (the Pirate Queen of Connemara), to a maharajah and Richard Martin (the founder of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). It's steeped in local history and lore, but you won't feel like you're staying in a museum; for all its pirates and maharajahs, the unpretentious tone is set by the rich red Persian rugs in the lobby, the well-worn quarry-tile floor in the pub, and the scuffed leather chesterfields flanking the log fire's baronial stone fireplace: no Celtic Tiger glitz here. The bedrooms in the discreet, ground-floor wing are huge, with four-poster beds and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river. Rooms in the original house are equally comfortable and quiet but not as big. Outdoor activities are a big draw here, and you can plan your day in consultation with walking guide Noel Joyce, who leads walks daily after breakfast, or take advice from the estate's fishing manager on the 5 km (3 miles) of private fly-fishing available. Choose between fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere in the Owenmore restaurant (the best for miles around) with enchanting river views, or bar food in the characterful Fisherman's Pub.