So you’ve popped the question – and the answer is yes! Time to formalise your union – or perhaps renew your original vows. Second time around is often better as you know each other well and can simply relax and enjoy the moment. And the good news is that Ireland has no shortage of romantic castles as the perfect backdrop. Our three favourites are Dromoland Castle, Adare Manor and Castle Leslie, in County Monaghan.
Located in County Clare in Ireland’s west, Dromoland Castle was built in the 16th Century and is one of Europe’s finest castle hotels. It is the ancestral home of the O’Brien clan, the Barons of Inchiquin, one of the few native Gaelic families of royal Irish blood and direct descendants of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland in the 11th Century. Refurbished and transformed into a luxury hotel in 1962, it has retained countless reminders of the castle’s historic past. Splendid woodcarvings and stone statuary, hand – carved panelling and fine antique furnishings surround guests. Located eight miles from Shannon Airport, Dromoland Castle has ninety-eight bedrooms and is set on four hundred and ten acres of parkland in the peaceful Shannon countryside. Spas, hydro pools, a formal rose garden and golf offer many pursuits.
Adare Manor borrows its name from the nearby village of Adare complete with its delightful thatched roof cottages, lively pubs, and antique shops. The Manor “structurally” as it exists today was not begun until 1832. The Second Earl of Dunraven and his wife, Lady Caroline Wyndham, were living in a Georgian house built in the 1720’s by Valentine Quin, grandfather of the first Earl. But Lord Dunraven, crippled with gout, was unable to participate in the usual activities of a landed gentleman of leisure, so Lady Caroline devised the idea of a new manor house to give him something important to do. And what a legacy to a wife finding work for an idle husband! Today Adare Manor is an architectural masterpiece of towers, turrets, and stonework ornamentation situated on the River Maigue and surrounded by breathtaking gardens, majestic trees and fascinating ruins dating back over eight hundred years.
One of the last great Irish castles which remain in the hands of the founding family, almost equi-distant from Dublin and Belfast, this magnificent hotel offers the perfect romantic escape. This is largely because you can experience a complete step back in time with no reception desk, ringing phone, televisions, radios, clocks or children. Set in 1,000 lush hectares, there a many diverse indoors and outdoors activities – but don’t forget to save time for the steaming hot tubs in the Hunting Lodge.