CORONA VIRUS      COVID 19

During this difficult time for us all we have decided to continue providing Tour Services as long as possible during the current outbreak of The Corona Virus.

Our vehicles are always regularly serviced and cleaned but we will be taking extra precautions during The Corona Virus outbreak.  All the vehicle door handles, seat belts and other points of contact are being sanitized before, during and after each tour.  Sanitized wipes will be provided for you in our vehicles.

We understand, and appreciate, that many people will have justifiable reservations about booking a tour and yet want to be able to tour with us on arrival in Ireland so we are making temporary changes to our booking arrangements.  We are only taking a deposit of €75 regardless of the size of the vehicle or the duration of the tour. For bookings made on or after March 19th, 2020 that subsequently need to cancel because of Corona Virus we will refund 90% of the deposit provided we receive a minimum of 72 hours notice of cancellation. We will make a refund to you, or at your discretion hold the full deposit against a future booking.

For centuries Ashford Castle has overlooked the shores of Lough Corrib, as one of Ireland's most magnificent castles and one of the most luxurious resort hotels in the world. 

Ashford Castle's long and distinguished history dates back to 1228 when it was founded by the Anglo Norman "de Burgo" family. The castle changed hands throughout the years and owners , including the Guinness family changed its appearance from defensive castle, to French Chateaux to Victorian Neo Gothic. During its time Ashford Castle has hosted Presidents and Princes. Ashford Castle has stood the test of time well, inside the castle's imposing structure, the richly decorated interior echoes centuries of care and master craftsmanship. Wonderful oak panelling, exquisite antiquities and fine antique furnishings adorn many nooks and crannies, the leisurely drawing room and the refined Prince of Wales Cocktail Bar.

 

State RoomAshford Castle's luxury suites are extremely spacious and all individually designed, with elegant period furnishings, sumptuous marble bathrooms and all the comforts of gracious living. Each bedroom commands fantastic views either across the graceful gardens, the flowing river or the wide waters of Lough Corrib.

Dining at Ashford Castle is a world-renowned culinary experience. The George V Room offers elegant dining amid period decor with a world-class menu of modern Irish and International cuisine. From May to September, the Connaught Room, a more intimate venue, offers the utmost in gourmet cuisine specialising in French a la Carte. All of which is prepared to the highest standards, by a Michelin Star Chef.

For a more traditional and casual dining experience, Cullen's Cottage is located on the grounds and is less than a 2 minute walk from the castle. Evening entertainment is provided in the atmospheric Dungeon Bar with resident entertainers providing traditional Irish music, ballads, poetry and storytelling.

 

 

Ashford Castle offers a huge range of activities, from walks within the 350 acre estate, golfing on Ashford's 9-hole course, lake cruises and fishing for trout and salmon on Lough Corrib. Ashford Castle also has one of the most advanced Equestrian Centres in the country and boasts Ireland's Falconfirst Falconry School offering the rare opportunity to handle birds of prey. For rainy days, Ashford has a health and beauty centre equipped with whirlpool, steam room and sauna and a full range of beauty treatments . Or, you could pass the time in the castle with the daily showings of John Ford's 1950's classic "The Quiet Man" which was filmed mainly in and around the nearby village of Cong and surrounding areas

 

A Brief History . . .

1228 The castle was built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family following their defeat of the O'Connors, the Royal House of Connacht, who are still extant in the person of the O’Connor Donn. The de Burgos built several such castles throughout the province, including one on the mouth of the River Corrib around which was to grow to be the City of Galway, but Ashford would remain their principal stronghold in the vastness of a wild and untamed province. The principal legacy of the native O'Connors is to be seen at the gates of the estate in the form of the magnificent Romanesque Augustinian Abbey of Cong , built on the site of a 6th century monastery. It is in this abbey that Ireland's last High King Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair died and from which came the greatest relic of his Court, the Cross of Cong, created to hold a piece of the True Cross (Crucifixion of Christ) and now in the National Museum of Ireland.

1598 After more than three and a half centuries under the de Burgos, whose surname became Burke or Bourke, Ashford passed into the hands of a new master, following a fierce battle between the Lord Binghamforces of the de Burgo's and those of the English official Sir Richard Bingham, Lord President (Governor) of Connaught, when a truce was agreed. In 1589, the castle fell to Bingham, who added a fortified enclave within its precincts. 

1715 The estate of Ashford was established by the Browne Family (Baron Oranmore), and a lodge in the style of a fabulous 17th-century French chateau was added to the medieval architectural splendour of the castle.

1852 The Estate was purchased by Sir Benjamin Guinness, who extended the estate to 26,000 acres, built new roads, planted thousands of trees and added two large Victorian style extensions. The castle was drawn for Sir William Wilde's (Father of Oscar Wilde) book about Galway.

 

1868 On his death in 1868, the estate passed to his son Lord Ardilaun, an avid gardener who oversaw the development of massive woodlands and rebuilt the entire west wing of the castle. He also subsidised the operation of several steamboats, the most notable of which was the Lady Eglinton, which plied between the villages of the Upper Lough Corrib region and Galway City, thus opening the area to increased commerce. In a time of agitation by tenant farmers in the Land Wars of the late 19th century, Lord Ardilaunepitomised by the action of tenants at nearby Lough Mask House (home of Captain Charles Boycott), he was considered by many to be an 'improving' landlord. Some of his efforts were unsuccessful, particularly the Cong Canal also known as the "Dry Canal", which was built to link Lough Mask and Lough Corrib but was a failure, due to its inability to hold water.

Despite such setbacks, the love borne by him and his wife Olive, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Bantry, for the castle and the estate was deep and best epitomised by that fact that when he was ennobled in 1880 he derived his title from the island of Ardilaun, which formed part of the estate on Lough Corrib.

1915 Ashford is retained by the Iveagh Trust on behalf of the Guinness family until it is bought by Noel Huggard in 1939.

1939 The Castle passed to Ardilaun's nephew Ernest Guinness, who sold it to Noel Huggard in 1939. He opened the estate as a hotel, which became renowned for the provision of its country pursuits, such as angling and shooting.

 

1951 The film director John Ford came to the West of Ireland to film what would become a movie classic, “ The Quiet Man “ starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. The grounds of Ashford Castle as well as nearby Cong formed the backdrop for much of the action in the film. Many of the film’s stars stayed at Ashford.

1970 Ashford Castle was bought by John Mulcahy, who oversaw its complete restoration and expansion, doubling its size with the addition of a new wing in the early 1970s, building a golf course and developing the grounds and gardens. In 1985, a group of Irish American investors, which included Chuck Feeney, purchased Ashford.

1985 A group of Irish American investors purchased Ashford. In the intervening period, Ashford has been voted not only one of the best hotels in Ireland by the most discerning guidebooks, but also one of the top 50 resort properties in Europe.

2008 Ashford Castle was bought outright by Galway Entrepreneur and Hotelier Mr Gerry Barrett.

Some of the guests . . .

In its time the castle has played host to many notable guests, including: HM King George V of the United Kingdom, his consort Queen Mary, Oscar Wilde (whose father, Sir William Wilde, had an estate adjacent to Ashford, where the writer spent much of his childhood) Some of the many guests of note who stayed at the Castle include former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, HRH the Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, John Wayne, Brad Pitt, Pierce Brosnan, HSH Prince Rainier III of Monaco and his consort HSH the Princess Grace. When the then future King of England stayed at Ashford he was so enamoured with all that Ashford had to offer he extended his original stay of a few days to 3 months.

"Not wanting to do the typical "bus tour" of Ireland, and not wanting to drive on the left, I booked a tour with Ireland West Tours. We hiked to remote churches, visited little known Tower houses/castles...all things that our amazing guide, Paul, was able to recommend. This was worth every single penny."

Marsha, Minnesota, USA

 

You can read the full review on 

 

Satisfying the customer 

Over the years we have had several compliments on our drivers from many of our satisfied customers. Click on the link to "Tripadvisor" below to read, in full, the reviews of some of our many happy customers.

"While some travellers may think of this as an expensive option, a driver allows you to see so much more than a tour bus would, is relaxing, personalized and gets you off of the beaten path. Jim is a gentleman and a professional."

Lady 12322, Saskatoon, Canada

 

You can read the full review on 

IRELAND WEST TOURS

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