DALLAS, February 29, 2012 — It’s impossible to imagine a more fitting way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than with a trip to the Irish countryside.
For the quintessential Irish experience, stay at Ashford Castle, 30 minutes outside of Galway.
The castle, which was converted into a grand hotel in 1939 is set among formal gardens and is the type of place where fishing, hunting and shooting has been the norm for the past 800 years.
With the first stone laid in 1228, the castle eventually became the country estate of Lord Ardilaun and the Guinness family a few hundreds of years later.
Sitting alongside Ireland’s second largest lake, Lough Corrib, the blue waters will lull visitors, particularly with fishing or just walking around in quiet meditation.
The great hall of the castle is decorated with rich panels of wood and a variety of period pieces of furniture alongside masterpiece paintings from different eras.
The two restaurants in the hotel include the award-winning George “V” dining room and the gourmet restaurant, the Connaught Room offering Irish fare.
The standout is the George “V” offering locally sourced ingredients with the menu inspired by the land and seascapes that surround the Castle; Salmon from the Corrib; Shellfish from Killary Harbour; Oysters from Galway Bay; Garlic Grass from the Estate; and the sweetest mountain Lamb from County Mayo. Have a cocktail, a Kur Royale, at The Prince of Wales Cocktail bar too. It’s inside the castle and is pure old-world charm.
Also worth a visit is the Lodge at Ashford for drinks in the less formal Quay Bar and dinner at Wilde’s, just a few minutes walk from the castle and a less-expensive alternative for dinner. The Lodge is also a less expensive option for an overnight stay than the castle and was built in the mid-1860s as the estate manager’s home.
Activities at Ashford are diverse and include horseback riding, a nine-hole golf course, clay pigeon shooting, archery, boat trips, and, the real standout, falconry.
Spending a morning at Ireland’s School of Falconry, which offers an unrivaled chance to fly a hawk around the castle grounds. The school is also home to a variety of other birds of prey, which you will have a chance to see, including a stunning owl that sits proud among the other birds of the school.
The nearby village of Westport, about 45 minutes away, is known for its cozy traditional pubs and shops.
Also in easy driving distance from the castle is the mountain of Croagh Patrick for some hiking and enjoying the outdoors and also makes an excellent backdrop to the city with its beautiful peaks.
Book a stay at Ashford Castle and you will know for sure your luck has changed.
Check for rate information as it varies: http://www.ashford.ie/
Rita Cook is a writer/editor with has over 1000 articles to her credit in the past 13-plus years. She is a frequent auto and travel contributor on a radio show in Los Angeles called Insider Mag Radio at KPRO 1570 am on from midnight to 12:30 a.m. Monday mornings. She also contributes travel and auto to the Anthony Duva show, which can be heard live from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST every Sunday at www.unregularradio.com. Cook is a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association, writes for the Dallas Morning News Green Living Section as well as artist profiles and www.greensourceDFW and spends much of her time on the road traveling or working on books. Her latest book releases are both “Haunted Dallas” and “Haunted Fort Worth” from www.historypress.net. You can also follow Cook at Twitter at @ritacook13.
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