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Truth be told, I wasn’t going to blog about our last visit to Ashford Castle. It’s a place I have had the true pleasure of visiting many times, and I’ve already blogged about it a couple of times.

But, truth be told, I am disgusted with the state of our country right now, and looking at photos of places I love is one escape that seems to lower my blood pressure and soften the rage at the people who have sold out our country to a maniac.

So, this Travel Tuesday, in my blog and in my mind, I am at the majestic Ashford Castle, on the shores of Lough Corrib in County Mayo Ireland. Both Ashford Castle and the little village of Cong where it is located are well-worth a visit if you ever head to Ireland.

On our last Ireland trip, we decided that a stop at Ashford on the way home from Achill Island would be a great way to break up the journey and give us a chance to have a snack and stretch our legs.

We arrived as the light of the day was starting to lower, casting a warm glow all over the castle and Lough Corrib.

Ashford Castle gin cocktail We were quickly brought to the lounge and seated with views of the lake, handed leather-bound cocktail menus to peruse.

My mother-in-law went with one of the castle’s imaginative gin cocktails, which had muddled blueberries, cracked black pepper, and grapefruit.

I have long been a fan of the Manhattan at Ashford, so I tucked in with one of those and a copy of The Irish Times. It was one of those lovely, cozy moments where we were all a little sleepy from Achill sunshine, so we just sat back and enjoyed the gorgeous surroundings.

Manhattan cocktail

Ashford Castle For lunch, the Smoked Salmon BLT was the obvious choice; I eat Irish smoked salmon and Irish bacon every chance I get, and this was one incredible sandwich.

 

smoked salmon BLT

Stuffed and in need of a bit of waking up, we did what we always do after a meal at Ashford; we took a long walk around the grounds. This is really one of my favorite things to do, and looking below, you can probably see why. Try to get there near sunset.

Ashford Castle Ashford Castle Lough Corrib

We didn’t expect to go to Ireland anytime soon, but it turned out the best rates to Italy this summer actually go through Dublin. This means I get to spend four glorious days in July in one of my favorite places. Having things to look forward to, big and small, are helping to keep me positive during these dark days.

Tell me, where do you go (even if just in your mind) when you need some uplifting?

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Tags: Ashford, Ashford Castle, castles, cocktails, Food, Ireland, luxury, luxury travel, Mayo, Travel

Sit back, relax, and get ready to take a journey to Ireland for the next couple of weeks. Sure, I will have some blog posts on holiday recipes and other things, but we just spent eight days in the West of Ireland, and I am back with a full heart and hundreds upon hundreds of photos and sweet memories.

On the first trip back to Ireland I made with my husband, his parents took all of us to lunch at  Ashford Castle in Cong, County Mayo. My jaw dropped at the beauty of the castle and the elegance and delicious food. It’s been almost 10 years since that visit, and a wedding, two houses, and many nieces and nephews have happened since. On this past trip, we all returned to Ashford for Sunday lunch.

The castle, which was recently purchased by Red Carnation Hotels, goes back to 1228 when a castle was built on a monastic site and run by the de Burgo family. Its history is long and winding, and the building has housed many famous guests including Oscar Wilde, King George V, John Lennon, John Wayne, Princess Grace of Monaco, and many others.

Ashford Castle

Arriving at Ashford Castle is pretty grand in itself. There’s a gatekeeper and a long road that winds through the golf course and leads you up to another gate over a river, then the castle.

Ashford Castle gate

Ashford Castle golf course

On the inside, Ashford Castle exudes regal beauty, with plush carpets, ornate chandeliers, and comfy chairs.

Ashford Castle

While we sat in the lounge waiting for lunch, we had a round of drinks, mine a perfectly chilled Manhattan.  A Manhattan in a castle on a Sunday afternoon felt pretty darn decadent!

Manhattan

And the view from of Lough Corrib from the lounge just couldn’t be beat.

image

Sunday lunch at Ashford involves a prix fixe menu with choices for appetizer, entree, and dessert. The Irish are known for their smoked salmon, and I went with a traditional and simple preparation, fresh salmon with a bit of fresh salad and lemon.

smoked salmon

Entrees are on the heartier side, and choices included Connemara lamb, pork, and hake. Entrees are all served under silver domes which are dramatically removed at the same time by members of Ashford staff.

The pork came on a cart and was carved tableside. We felt so spoiled!

Ashford Castle tableside service

Ashford Castle tableside service

Since we were surrounded by beautiful water, I went with a fillet of hake with sweet creamed carrot, prawn bisque, and boiled potatoes. It was the perfect choice, filling but not too heavy, each of the elements’ flavors coming through without being overbearing.

fillet of hake

Portions were generous but not overwhelming, and I was left with plenty of room for dessert, a Sticky Toffee Pudding with Rum Raisin Ice Cream. Yum.

The wine selection at Ashford is impressive, with pages and pages of wines including some very expensive ones. A bottle of Drouhin Pouilly-Fuissé Chardonnay went well with our hake and salmon and was just a delicious wine.

sticky toffee pudding

One of the best parts about lunch at Ashford Castle is being able to wander the beautiful grounds after. Every nook and turn has some sort of beautiful old detail, and stretching the legs after  a leisurely lunch feels wonderful.

Ashford Castle

Lough Corrib Lough Corrib is a stunner on its own. With 365 islands, there is something magical about this lake, and the light after lunch was perfect. We could see across to County Galway and to many of the little islands that dot the lake’s calm surface. It’s the perfect spot for boating when the weather is nice, and our Ashford visit has me counting down until we are in Ireland again in August.

Lough Corrib

Ashford Castle

If you get the chance to visit Ireland, I always recommend spending a lot of time in the Western part of the country. Ashford Castle is a beautiful place to splurge on a meal or a night’s stay if you are lucky.

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Tags: castle hotel, castles, cocktails, Cong, County Mayo, Food, Ireland, Irish countryside, Irish hotel, Travel, travel blog, wine

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