Gillick's World: Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way Re-published August 2015 - Page 7

In our togetherness, Castles are built There’s an Irish proverb that says “Trí na chéile a thógtar na cáisléain”, meaning “In our togetherness, castles are built”. The double meaning of the expression refers to teamwork and cooperation, as much as it relates to tourism in Ireland, where the combination of warm hospitality and amazing castle hotels elevate the travellers’ experience to a high level of satisfaction, enjoyment and comfort. On a recent trip to Ireland I stayed in castles on my first and last night—a perfect ‘comfort sandwich’. Each castle had its own unique personality and charm based on its history, location and the staff who work to make guest stays—and lifestyle dreams--as memorable as possible. After arriving at Shannon Airport, I drove to Recess for my night at Ballynahinch Castle Hotel and Estate. I checked into my room and immediately engaged in some Irish taste bud immersion, first with a crisp Guinness beer and followed by freshly baked soda bread, perfectly grilled scallops and tender, moist baked cod. Then it was time to explore the ambiance of the Castle: historic rooms, lush furniture and comfy quiet lounges to relax and reflect. The Ballynahinch Estate dates to the 16th Century The Reception area, Dromoland Castle when the O’Flaherty Clan ruled the area. The castle itself was built in 1756 by Richard Martin, a Member of Parliament and later, the founder of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In the early 20th Century, the castle was owned for a time by Shri Sir Ranjitsinhji (Ranji, for short), renowned as the Prince of Cricketers in Ireland. In the drizzle and darkness of the next morning, I met Noel my walking guide, for a two hour stroll along the paths, laneways, fields, mazes, rivers, and extraordinary views of the lake and the 12 Bens Mountains. We climbed over old gateways, stood on salmon fishing piers, and visited some of the old estate cottages. Noel explained the history of the Connemara area, a name that literally means ‘Hound or Dog Sons of the Sea’; referring to one of the early tribes who used the rugged, rocky coastline for smuggling. He also noted the remnant of a tower on the far side of the lake; recalling the exploits of Grace O’Malley, the infamous Pirate Queen who plundered ships in the area. The tour was fascinating and full of photographic opportunities. The Thomas Martin Reading Room, Ballynahinch Castle This article appeared in a different format in www.travelindustrytoday.com