Here is a list of Historic Hotels in Ireland – Perhaps you might be tempted to stay in one of these properties that are steeped in history!
This 1720’s building was the seat of the Earls of Dunraven. The second and third Earls rebuilt the house between 1832 and 1860, enlarging it to create a Victorian mansion in a Gothic-revival style. The grandeur of the gilded Spanish leather doors and the stone Gothic arches of the high-ceilinged inner hall strikes the visitor immediately. But the fresh-flowers inside, the welcoming fireplace by reception and the pleasant 840-acre garden outside help make it feel human rather than intimidating. The rooms are equally designed with splendor. And the menu at the restaurant competes with the luxury and taste of the building and gardens. The sound of the river and of the harpist who plays during dinner completes the feast for all the senses. Golfing is also available on the grounds.
It is easy to see why the Hotel was listed twice in the top ten foreign resorts in Conde Nast’s Travellers’ Choice.
The grandfather of poet Robert Graves rented the original house at Parknasilla as a summer residence. It was bought by Southern Hotels, who in 1890 erected a new hotel nearby, designed by the architect of the Park Hotel and Ashford Castle. Southern Railways, who found themselves in the curious position of owning a winter resort hotel nowhere near a rail station. Their passengers had to be conveyed by horse and carriage the not inconsiderable fifteen miles from Kenmare.
The view is magnificent: the bay is spread out before the hotel and is scattered with small islands – the hotel owns two, and you can walk to them over a footbridge and picnic there if you wish. There is also a little private rocky cove, hidden beside the indoor pool, where sailing boats and a motor boat for water skiing await your pleasure. There are large, well-tended grounds with palm trees, horses if you wish to ride, and a prize winning village to explore a few miles down the road.
The hotel has been entirely refurbished and a new wing added since its Victorian heyday.
Conor O’Brien, 18th Baron Inchiquin, is the O’Brien of Thomond, direct descendant of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, who defeated the Vikings at the battle of Clontarf in 1014. He still lives amid the 1000-acre estate through which the river Rine meanders, and is the former owner of Dromoland Castle, though he has built himself a new, more modest mansion, and his erstwhile ancestral home is now a luxury hotel.
The original entrance leads up into a small hall, furnished with a spreading many-armed brass candelabrum and ancestral portraits. Doors open into the former library, shelved floor to ceiling, which now contains the bar – it overlooks the lake – and a small sitting room, which has a view of the rose-garden. A wide gallery lined with antlered heads and containing groups of elegant settees ends in a straight wide flight of steps up to the main bedrooms.
Viewed across the lake, Dromoland’s wealth of crenelated battlements, towers, turrets, and flags rising from the smoothly mown green undulations of the 18-hole golf course appears almost unbelievably picturesque.
Ashford Castle stands a the head of Lough Corrib. You drive in under an impressive gateway, through a manicured nine-hole golf-course, and across an arched bridge over a wide river, into a broad forecourt, where the massive partly 13th-century crenelated castle stretches before you. In the 1800s the castle was rebuilt as a hunting lodge, and it was further extended while in the ownership of the Guinness family. In 1971 it became a hotel mainly for fishermen, but has since been totally refurbished, and is now a splendid 83-bedroom luxury establishment, under American ownership. Although a moat of river and lake and a curtain wall with battlements and watchtowers still remain, the castle’s courtyard is now filled by immaculate flower gardens tended by fourteen gardeners. The jaunting car used by John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man, filmed on location here in 1952, is owned by the castle. Tied up by the hotel is a magnificent launch which once belonged to the liner Queen Elizabeth II, on which guests may cruise the lake. The bedrooms with the finest views are those at the corner of the castle overlooking both river and lake, and at the very top under the eaves, though there are larger, grander rooms elsewhere.
The Park Hotel was built originally as a railway hotel in 1897 and has the sturdy gray-stone dignity of the period. It is high on a hillside, with immaculate terraced gardens and walkways leading down to fields, woods and the tidal estuary of the Kenmare River. Its own 9-hole golf course is off to one side, bright hanging baskets of flowers are suspended from the delicate ironwork tracery of the verandah with groups of white chairs set out invitingly on the lawn.
The long drive curves up behind the hotel to an impressive entrance reached by a flight of steps beneath an awning. In the elegant hall hung with vast oil paintings, very correctly attired but welcoming receptionists greet you and invite you to sign in at an antique desk.
There is a handsome antique cistern painted with mythological figures supported on glided seahorses and dolphins, nearby the embers burn in a marble fireplace. You should be sure to have booked well in advance in order to have secured one of the six spacious suites, which are likewise furnished with splendid antiques, including magnificent carved beds.
There is a pleasant hexagonal bar with doors opening out to the magnificent view, beside it is a comfortable sitting room, where a pianist plays in the evening. The restaurant runs the length of the verandah – so many tables have the advantage of the view – and into a main room; there is a fine marble fireplace at each end. Over one is an impressive still-life of seafood, over the other a portrait in oils of a pensive lady; another huge still-life is of flowers. Chandelier and wall lights are in the shape of white translucent lilies; massive, well-polished silverware, antiques, palm trees, well-starched damask linen tablecloths.
This is a gracious, very professional, and highly praised hotel.
In the middle of the small town, impressive gates open into a long forecourt, at the end of which is the splendid red-brick facade of this former Archbishop’s Palace, built c. 1731 and designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, architect of the old Parliament House in Dublin. I had wondered whether a town setting would prove noisy, but the hotel is set well back from the traffic in a peaceful, sheltering garden. The pillared entrance hall is imposing. Panelled in pine, painted a delicate apricot, it has twin gray-marble fireplaces facing each other, flanked by comfortable settees. Though in a lovely historic setting, this is thoroughly professional, efficiently-run hotel, with helpful friendly girls at the reception desk. The bathroom was simple but vast. There was an enormous bed, its high headpiece painted white and carved wih garlands and flambeaux, from which green and white draperies hung down. The view, morning and evening, was magnificent: the Rock of Cashel, crowned with its ruined cathedral, castle, chapel, and tall tower, framed in the weeping ash and copper-beech trees of the neatly tended wide gardens.
The comfortable, 19th-century house has log and peat fires burning in every hearth, plump inviting armchairs and plenty of magazines and books. To the large drawing room, hall-sitting room, den, and library, Dermot and Kay have added a large bar with a glass porch, where guests assemble before dinner to chat and study the promising menu, and a restaurant, also with big glass windows looking out into a small woodland glade.
The bedrooms in the original house are all of different sizes, and include some charming tiny single rooms. Additional large bedrooms, built on the back of the house, overlook the pretty sloping garden and have good tiled bathrooms and big antique wardrobes. Each is pleasantly furnished with both a double and a single bed, and divided by a step and archway from a sitting area with a table, armchairs, and a further divan couch.
Although the house is only yards from the sea and has its own small beach, do not come expecting sea views, as there is a tall bank of sheltering trees between the sea and the hotel. Dinner is exceptional.
Sheltered by huge trees in 180 acres, it is edged with a neat garden which is the pride of Lady Levinge, since she has won much of it back from a wilderness, while her husband has been improving the home farm. She runs her won Connemara pony stud farm on the premises, and travels widely to international horse shows, both to act as a judge and to show her won ponies. There are herons and wild duck on the flight pond below the house, badgers in the woods nearby, and a glorious panoramic view of Mount Leinster directly in front of the house. Portraits of the Levinges through the centuries hang on the drawing room walls, and there are fine Flemish tapestries in the dining room, where at dinner and breakfast guests sit at a long polished table set with family silver. They will not be joined at their meals by their hosts, except perhaps for coffee, since Lady Levinge is the talented self-taught cook who produces the excellent meals. On my visit I enjoyed her crisp courgettes in a light batter, with a stilton, yoghurt, and fresh-peppercorn sauce.