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Recalling Ashford Castle and the Falconry School

April 22, 2015 by  

On April 17, 2015, Ashford Castle officially re-opened after a two-year, $75 million renovation. Ireland’s Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, and Beatrice Tollman, President and Founder of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection were on hand for the celebration. Tollman said, “Ashford Castle becomes the jewel of the collection and certainly one of Europe’s finest luxury hotels.”

Ashford Castle exterior 2015

Ashford Castle exterior 2015

I can only imagine how spectacular this iconic site must look. Back in March, 2006, I stayed at the 800-year-old castle during a trip to Ireland. I vividly remember driving past miles upon miles of sheep surrounded by ancient hand-crafted stone walls. Then we entered the property and crossed a bridge over the moat. Everything I imagined from childhood fairy tales stood before me with the exception of a golden coach. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Renovated Ashford Castle - Oak Hall

The lobby welcomed me (and still does as seen in the above photo) with wine and ruby colored accents and a blazing fireplace. Our guestroom had a window where my daughter envisioned herself as Rapunzel, a perfect spot to let down her hair. I admit the suite could have included more modern features, especially in the bath, but I was happy at the time. The overall ambiance was rich and royal, and I felt a bit like a princess myself.

My daughter Laura at Ashford Castle window in 2006.

My daughter Laura at Ashford Castle window in 2006.

 

Now, each of the 82 guestrooms and suites and all public areas have been artfully decorated and redesigned with a range of selected antiques, original artwork, sumptuous fabrics and bespoke carpets all complemented by the latest technologies including Wi-Fi available throughout the hotel.

 

Laura in the Falconry Class.

Laura in the Falconry Class.

The hotel’s grounds were also splendid with secret gardens, stone turrets and fountains. The most vivid memory of my stay was the wonderful hands-on educational Falconry Class. Ashford’s School of Falconry is the oldest and most established in Ireland. I can still feel the joy of having a bird to return to my gloved hand , a moment in time I will never forget. I hope you will read my story about that experience here: Gone Hawking.

 

I hope someday to return to Ashford Castle but for now these old photos will have to do.

 

2006 Ashford Castle at Dawn

Crossing the moat at Ashford Castle

Crossing the moat at Ashford Castle

Debi during the Falconry Class.

Debi during the Falconry Class.

 

Ashford Castle in 2006

Ashford Castle in 2006

ABOUT ASHFORD CASTLE:

Ashford Castle is set on 350 acres in County Mayo, on the shores of Lough Corrib and the River Cong, with a spectacular backdrop of woodlands, lake, river, and mountains. A member of Leading Hotels of the World, it features 82 guestrooms and is renowned for a range of country sports including an equestrian centre, fly fishing, an exclusive nine-hole golf course and Ireland’s first school of falconry. Several dining rooms and bars, along with a gracious afternoon tea service are among the amenities.

For more information, please visit www.ashfordcastle.com.

 

 

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