Our Irish Castle
Only one night in 'Our Irish Castle' but we made the best of it. Arrived early enough to take a dip in their pool and sauna.
Had a wonderful, if expensive, dinner...
and had one of the largest rooms in the Castle. It's the oldest continuously occupied castle in Ireland. What more do you need?
It does have a golf course & health club also though.
Kilkea castle was built in 1181 by Sir Walter de Riddlesford and later, by marriage, came into possession of the Earls of Kildare who resided at the stronghold for more than 700 years.
It is rumoured that the 11th Earl of Kildare, known as "Wizard Earl" is still haunting the walls of Kilkea castle. He was highly interested in alchemy which caused lots of suspiciousness at his time and so he was suspected possessing magical powers. He died in 1585 and is supposed to return to Kilkea every 7th year.
In the late 1960's the castle became a hotel/ restaurant. That's why, unfortunately, only the exterior can be admired today (unless you've got 250 €uros for a room).
Kilkea castle can also be booked for weddings and conferences and does have a golf course, too.
A Giants' Castle
Kilkea Castle is a wonderful Castle just outside Castledermot, a little town in County Kildare.
The castle is now run as a hotel and although I havent stayed there ,I have eaten in the restaurant and been to a wedding reception there. Both of which were superb experiences. The cocktail bar with its grand open fireplace is absolutely spot on during a cool evening.
There is also a great golfcourse and beautiful gardens.
Castle Dermot is a grand little town with a couple of great little bars and a ruined abbey. Athy, the nearest big town, is a very pretty place ,with another castle, right in the middle of the main street.on a bridge ,over the river.It is still inhabited as a private dwelling.
There is also a lovely early Georgian Square with some great public buildings.
This area of Ireland is very special and deserves to be seen. Not too far from Dublin( about two hours) South. Worth the trip.
Shannon to Dublin in Seven Days
"Our Whirlwind tour of southern Ireland"
Landed in Shannon early Monday morning, dropped our bags off in Ennis and was at the Cliffs of Moher before 11am.
Seven days later, we flew out of Dublin. Although we managed to visit many of the major 'tourist sites' along the way, there just wasn't enough time to see all that we wanted to.
The quick synopsis goes something like this:
B&B in Ennis, tour Cliffs of Moher & the Burren;
drive to Dingle via the Connar Pass, manage to do the Slea Head Drive, before an evening at the 'An Driochead Beag' Pub for theTrad Session & Craic;
The next day we were off to Blarney, via the Gap of Dunloe (where we scored a bottle of Poitín);
Rushed to Cobh (where we got stuck in a tiny traffic jam), did the Jameson tour in Middleton, before rushing off to the Rock of Cashel...
and a mad dash to Kilkenny. But we missed the last tour to the Kilkenny Castle and had to settle for dinner across the river.
Drove to Glendalough the next morning, and then a night in Kilkea Castle.
Arrived in Dublin early Saturday morning, but still didn't manage to see all that we wanted.
Golf, Golf and more Golf
"The Family Visit"
My wife, daughter and I were living in London in late 1996, when we decided the extended family (2 brothers, a Sister in law, parents and a niece) would all meet in Killarney for a family vacation. By the time we got around to going in September 1997, we had moved back to Boston and had 4 week old baby. Of course a couple weeks before the trip, I found out I had to go to London on business the week before the vacation. So I ended up just meeting them at Shannon airport and my wife got to fly with two kids alone. Probably not my best decision ever.
The trip was your average Southwest Ireland sightseeing trip. The Ring of Kerry was nice, but at times just a long crowded drive. I remember a lot of tour buses and small roads. Kissed the Blarney Stone, Gazed over the Cliffs of Moher, ate at Bunratty Castle, looked at a number of old ruins, etc.
The real fun however, was had in the pubs and in some golf. We only went out a couple nights (with the parents watching the little ones so the brothers and wives could get out.) Recommendation here is to find a small place that is not full of tourists. While the tourist traps put on a nice show, they are just that, shows, not anything like a small pub atmosphere and some good "craic" (sp?) - bar conversation over a drink and background music.
We only played golf twice. One little horse track (literally) in Killarney. The defining moment of my golf life though, was the second round. We found a place off the coast near Kinsale (in Cork) called The Old Head of Kinsale. Unbelievable cliffs, water, wind, everything. The course had just opened that season, and we were able to just walk on. Since then it has moved into the top league of destination golf courses worldwide.
"The Work Trips"
In 1999 I had to get to a company plant in Carlow (more to the east, nearer to Dublin.) As I was to be there for 2 weeks, I talked my brother into coming over for the weekend on a cheap fare. We played Friday evening (Kilkea Castle - think sun setting and a bag piper playing in the distance for a wedding at the actual castle), and Saturday (Blainroe and Mt Woseley).
On Sunday we had another of those magic Irish Golf experiences. We wanted to play a coastal course again, so we found a flag on our map near the coast and drove toward it. The European Club turned out to be another near perfect experience. The weather was beautiful and we could just walk on the course. It turns out that this course is owned / designed by a golf enthusiast who really appreciates the whole experience. As such he deliberately keeps membership small. This means, in all the times I have played that course, I have rarely even met another golfer, much less waited at each tee. It is all about the golf and nature. It was 20 (yes 20!) holes of bliss.
Coincidentally (sort of) I had to make a visit to our Newbridge factory the following year. This time I couldn't talk my brother into a quick trip, so I played alone. But play I did. Two small courses, Craddockstown and Cil Dara (think lots and lots of bored looking sheep on the course) and, of course, The European Club, again.
"The Annual Boondogle"
For the next 5 years we made annual pilgrimages to various courses all over Ireland. In 2001 it was Dublin and a bit north. (Dundalk, The Island, both Portmarnock courses, and again, The European Club.)
2002 was the Northwest (Ballyliffin and Donegal) then back to Dublin and south (The European Club). This was the trip we found another Irish golf gem, the Druid's Glen hotel and golf resort. Not only did they have another beautiful course (this time a parklands course) but noteably, the most luxurious hotel I have ever stayed in for a golf grip. The Druid's Glen Marriott was, and still is, amazing.
2003 was back to the Southwest (Killarney (2), Waterville, Tralee - now my brother's favorite, Ballybunion Cashen - amazing in its own right, consider hiring a Sherpa if you go - and Ballybunion Old) and then back to Dublin for the Druid's Glen and European Club rounds.
In 2004 we stayed in just the Southwest (Dromoland Castle, Killarney (2), Tralee, Kilkee, Spanish Point, Lahinch (2), Dooks, CastleRoss).
In 2005 we decided to go to Northern Ireland (Portstewart(2), Portrush, Ardglass) and back to The European Club and Druid's Glen, where they had just opened a new course, Druid's Heath.
In 2006 we went to Scotland - see that entry for details there - but we will be back in the Southwest in spring of 2007. This year's highlight will be a return visit to The Old Head of Kinsale, the course that kicked off this love affair 10 years ago.