Ashford Castle is a medieval castle which has been expanded over the centuries and turned into a luxury 5* hotel near the village of Cong on the Mayo-Galway border.
The castle was founded by the De Burgo (Burke) family, an Anglo-Norman clan in 1228. After more than three-and-a-half centuries under the rule of the de Burgos family, Ashford Castle fell to Sir Richard Bingham, an English official and Lord President of Connaught, in 1589, following fierce battles between the forces of the de Burgos and Bingham. Bingham then quickly added a fortified enclave to the castle.
In the 1670’s, the estate was royally granted to Dominick Browne of the Browne Family. The estate became established under the Browne family for many centuries and a hunting lodge in the style of a 17th-century French chateau was constructed.
In 1852 the estate was purchased by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness from the Encumbered Estates’ Court. He soon added two large Victorian style extensions and extended the estate to 26,000 acres, planting thousands of trees and laying road as he went. In 1868, the estate passed to Sir Benjamin’s son, Lord Ardilaun, who expanded the building further in the neogothic style.
The Castle then passed to Ardilaun’s nephew Ernest Guinness and was later sold in 1939 to Noel Huggard. Noel Huggard opened the estate as a hotel. In 1951, the estate, became part of the backdrop of the John Ford directed film, ‘The Quiet Man‘.
In 1970, the castle was bought by John Mulcahy, who oversaw its complete restoration and expanded the castle by doubling its size with the addition of a new wing in the early 1970’s. The castle passed hands twice more before being sold in 2013 to the Red Carnation Hotels group.
During it’s existence, the castle has played host to many notable guests to include; King George V & Queen Mary, John Lennon, George Harrison, Oscar Wilde, US President Ronald Reagan, Prince Edward, US Senator Ted Kennedy, John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Robin Williams, Brad Pitt, Pierce Brosnan and professional golfer Rory McIlroy who married Erica Stoll there in 2017.