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Ashford Castle Built originally in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman Family of the de Burgos – who conquered and ruled large parts of the West of Ireland at that time.

In 1715, the Oranmore and Brown family built the existing house in the style of a French Chateau. In 1852, Sir Benjamin Guinness purchased the estate and did much good work in the development of the area and relocating and improving the lot of his poor tenants.

Ashford Castle

Today Ashford Castle, standing on the shores of Lough Corrib, is considered by many to be the finest hotel in the country. The recent award of the Egon Ronay gold plate places its cuisine among Europe’s finest. No visitor to the area can fail to admire the beauty of the magnificent grounds (some 300 acres) which surrounds the Castle.

Ballykine (Ballykyne)


One of a series of vie fortifications – from Ballinrobe to Ballindonagh – it was originally owned by the O’Kynes. In 1571 it was seized for the Crown by Fitton, the then President of Connacht. For a period the de Burgos held it and later gave it to the Mac Donnells (Scottish Mercenaries) as service booty or Bonnacht. Eventually it passed from one Sir Richard O’Donnell to Sir Benjamin Guinness and so became part of the great Guinness estate. Architecturally, the castle has some puzzling features. The trabeated doorway with its inclined jambs pre-dates the rest of the structure by some 900 years. One also notices that certain sections of the stonework are not bonded together as a unit – a feature which suggest later additions to the original building. One reaches this Castle by entering the demesne via The Red Gate which is one mile east of Clonbur village.

Caislean Na Circe
(Hens Castle / Castlekirk)

Caislean na Circe (built in a night by a cock and a hen according to legend) is one of the oldest mortared castles in Ireland. This Norman keep, placed in the direction of the cardinal compass points, was built early in the 12th Century by the sons of Roderick O’Connor, last High-King of Ireland, aided by their then ally, William Fitz-Adelm, the first de Burgo (later Burke). This castle which occupies almost the entire island had a troubled history, being stormed and besieged many times, not the least of which was the celebrated occasion when Graninne Mhaol (Grace O’Malley) personally defended it. It continued to be occupied as a castle until it finally succumbed to the Cromwellian soldiers in 1654.