Living like a Royal in Ireland - The perfect autumn destination

LIFESTYLE & DESIGN

 

Gentle Fall! The weather is the perfect time to meander around the Irish countryside’s curvy roads, stopping at little pubs and chatting up locals who truly believe they have never encountered a stranger. During many visits I have driven countless miles, picked up hitchhikers and been invited to share meals in charming local homes.

 

During a recent trip to the west country, I tucked into the newly-renovated Dromoland Castle, ancestral home of the O’Brien clan, in  County Clare.  Dating from the 16th century, the gray pile of soaring crenelated  towers, majestically rises above Lough Dromoland, a mirror lake outside the village of Newmarket on Fergus, less than 15 minutes from Shannon airport. Embraced by 450-acres of stunning scenery, it includes verdant parkland, interesting out buildings, an award-winning golf course and more.

 

Inside, the five star property’s interiors boast deeply carved oak paneling, enormous crackling, wood-burning fireplaces, ancestral portraits, crystal chandeliers and Irish-Georgian antiques. Spacious bedrooms and suites in the main building are lovely, especially those with lake views, while accommodations in the newer wings feel more hotel-like. 

 

In the Queen Anne Wing, the historic quadrangle where the 28 newly-done bedrooms are situated, was built in 1736 by Sir Edward O’Brien, a famous Irish politician and baronet.  These, as well as eight re-dos in larger accommodations in the East Wing were  overseen by Global Design Concepts.  All 36 rooms and suites enjoy the look of cheerful Zoffany and Osborne & Little wallpapers, fresh paint and lightly refreshed bathrooms. Bespoke woven wool carpets cover the floors, fabrics were sourced from Europe’s leading design houses and sumptuous upholstery was designed by the French fabric house Pierre Frey. Indeed, nothing is overlooked here, including kitten-soft throws, as well as bed cushions and decorative pillows carefully embroidered with the Dromoland Castle coat-of-arms. 

 

Many of these utterly fresh rooms evoke cozy, cottage-style decor inspired by 18th century botanical gardens. Happily, the decor underscores  the leafy outdoor views, and invariably magnetizes guests to tarry on the broad window seats, from which they enjoy unfettered views of the pastoral panorama.  

 

Dining here is unabashed pleasure that evolves in several different settings that include private picnics on the estate, as well casual dining in the Fig Tree in the Golf and Country Club.  Internationally-acclaimed Earl of Thomond dining room’s divine fare though,is best taken in the Earl of Thomond dining room,  graced by flickering candles, and soothing tones of a traditional Irish harpist. Always full of guests, it is a favorite of locals too, who recall rubbing shoulders with famous personalities who came for must-have dishes. These include, Former President Bill Clinton, who loves the dry-aged Irish Sirloin with rich Claret Sauce; Prince Albert of Monaco, who savors the fillet of John Dory laced with tomato Nantaise; and former President George W. Bush who loves the smoked salmon on brown soda bread.

 

 Not surprisingly, Afternoon Tea is a long-standing tradition that always commences at 3:00 in the afternoon, during which steaming cups of tea and freshly-baked delights are served from gleaming silver services. Personally, one of my fondest memories at the castle, getting up early, tucking into a corner table with a view, and tarrying over a delectable Irish breakfast.

 

Outdoors, guests are invited to enjoy falconry, biking, horseback riding and golf on the championship course. Be sure to book treatments in the sybaritic spa, swim in the pool and in good weather take a boat out on the lake. Some guests never leave the property; others take advantage of the location to explore stunning western attractions like the remarkable Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, where costumed characters make the setting come alive; Ennistown’s pubs and shops and Craggaunowen, a 16th century castle and archaeological open-air museum.

 

On the Dromoland estate, the Inn at Dromoland offers 130 newly refurbished rooms with views over the Shannon Estuary, that are ideal for conference, meetings and  family holidays. The Inn has a fully-equipped gym, pool and Shannigan’s Gastro Pub that offers authentic Irish pub grub and casual fare.

 

                                                             --Marion Laffey Fox

 


 

 

 

             Dromoland Castle Reservations: 011-353-61-368-144  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  
 


 

 

 

 

 

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