Having been told that this was the must-visit hotel in Ireland, we were very eager to arrive and begin the quintessential Dromoland experience. Dromoland Castle is a truly unique luxurious property that possesses everything you would expect from a castle experience. Upon arrival at the gate of Dromoland Castle, the sentient black grille is watched over by a guard in green garb. As we waited for the doors to part wide enough for our car to pass, we excitedly looked beyond at the fields of grass that surround the drive leading to the castle. Once inside, we drove up a path that overlooked a glassy lake on the left and a golfing center on the right. Our short journey ended with a cul-de-sac encompassed by the castle itself.
A member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts, the five-star Dromoland Castle is built of a dark blue limestone that starkly contrasts with its vibrant green surroundings. The castle’s history dates back all the way to the year 1002, when the High King of Ireland was Brian Boru. His family, the O’Briens, Barons of Inchiquin, who were one of the few native Gaelic families of royal blood and direct descendants of Brian Boroimhe (Boru) have their portraits prominently displayed around the castle.
We were greeted immediately by the staff eagerly awaiting to assist us with luggage and our car. We climbed the steps to the lobby area, which was filled with antique furnishing and armored knights guarding the reception. Our check-in process was very quick. We were escorted to our room by the bellhop. Our rooms faced the opposite side of the main entrance across the cul-de-sac driveway.
Our Accommodations at Dromoland Castle
We had two rooms: an executive deluxe bedroom with two queen beds for the kids and deluxe room with a king-sized bed. Both rooms had silky chocolate truffles and a box of mixed goodies that awaited our arrival. They didn’t last five minutes past us walking through the door. The rooms themselves were spacious with raspberry shades and golden tones. The room had a large golden mirror hanging over a wooden desk and a large flat-screen TV facing the beds.
The bathroom had a walk-in shower as well as a bathtub (a necessity, according to the girls). Every day, the cleaning crew left boxes of chocolate and lemon truffles to be discovered after the afternoon activities. One of my favorite things in our room was we had 110/220 outlets. I could use my charger from home and not worry about using an adapter.
Restaurants and Bars at Dromoland Castle
The dining rooms are located in the main castle, pass the reception area following a long hallway which leads you to the restaurants.
Our first meal was lunch in the Drawing room, which was a cozy room with high ceilings and a magnificent log burning alabaster fireplace which kept us warm. The subject of conversation at our first lunch at Dromoland was dominated by the fact that our gaze could be met by the noble Gaelic individuals on the walls regardless of where we sat. The food consisted of traditional Irish dishes, such as lamb stew, as well as simpler salads and sandwiches.
Earl of Thomond Restaurant at Dromoland Castle
Our first evening at the castle we dined the Earl of Thomond restaurant. The Earl of Thomond Restaurant, the main dining room, is lit by a quartet of Waterford crystal chandeliers, damask covers the walls, tasselled drapes frame the windows.
The classic menu features local foods, among them Irish lamb, duck, vegetables from the castle garden, and regional cheeses. Between each course of the dinner, we were offered a variety of breads including some exotic flavors, such as tomato basil (our favorite).
The desserts ranged from scrumptious chocolate cakes to nougat ice creams and fruity tarts.
The cuisine and its presentation at Dromoland was without a doubt one of the great highlights of our trip. Our servers were cheerful as well as dedicated to the traditions involved with serving our meals. Whenever we ordered hot meals, the silver plate covers were always lifted at the same time, by multiple waiters if necessary. Next to the dining area was a circular room containing the bar and loads of unique china- pieces of dogs. The bar was twenty-four hours and well-stocked with old whiskeys. At night, there was often live Gaelic music.
Breakfast at Dromoland Castle
Our next day began with the famous Dromoland Castle breakfast which is served in Earl of Thomond restaurant. Breakfast consisted of a buffet of fresh fruits, meats, cheeses, scones, jams, and cereal. You also have the option of ordering from the menu a traditional Irish Breakfast as well such as omelets.
The Gallery Restaurant
Most of time we spend in The Gallery restaurant which felt like more like a living room area with comfortable chairs and sofas surrounded with tables. It’s a more casual dining menu and they served food from 11am to 11pm. The menu had a wide variety of snack items as well as Mrs. White’s afternoon tea. No reservations are needed and the dress code is casual.
The spa is not far from the lobby. It offers complete packages of different soothing massages, manicures and pedicures, and skin treatments. When the service is complete, there is a room set up with massaging chairs and magazines, delicious fruit, and flavored waters and teas where the client can relax for as long as they desire. My massage left me glowing and content, and I felt completely de-stressed. The gym facilities were a two-minute walk away from the actual castle, but they were well-worth the small hike. On top of their being a weight room, there was a pool, a sauna, and a steam room. The changing rooms were also well-equipped with lots of extra towels, lockers, and even blow-dryers.
Activities in Dromoland Castle
There were a multitude of unique activities offered, such as falconry, archery, clay shooting, and, of course, golfing. Since we don’t have any big golfers in the family, we stuck to the first three, however, we did rent a golf cart for an hour in order to experience a speedy tour of the beautiful grounds.
The archery session is perfect for beginners (which was all of us), and the instructor was very patient and helpful, even when our arrows landed far beyond the intended target. For our clay shooting lesson, depending on our size/strength, we were handed a twenty gauge or twelve gauge. For those who were more sensitive to the pull, our instructor offered a small blanket to put over our shoulders. Last (and certainly the best!) was falconry. Our instructor knew everything about the birds and answered all the different questions we fired at her. Our bird’s name was Bomber, a beautiful hawk that would land on our outstretched (and gloved) arms when prompted with a small piece of meat. They had a multitude of birds of prey being kept there: falcons, hawks, and even owls! You can also take a pony & trap ride around the grounds. The tour lasts 1 hour and will take you around the beautiful grounds of the Estate and they provide you with a detailed history of the Castle and it’s Estate.
Gardens at Dromoland Castle
The Castle is surrounded by 450 acres of breathtaking scenery, including a river, forests, and its own lough (lake). The gardens are particularly noteworthy, their design based on the formal approach of Andre Le Notre, the legendary French landscape architect of Versailles. One walled garden is dedicated to roses, another grows herbs for the kitchen.
How to Get There
Dromoland Castle is just 8 miles from Shannon Airport. It is situated in the heart of the Clare countryside, just mins off the N18, 10 minutes from the busy market town of Ennis and 20 minutes from the vibrant city of Limerick.
Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare, Ireland +353 61 484 144
Dromoland Castle hosted us for one night and dinner. The remaining of our stay was at a discounted rate, but all opinions are my own.