I was the queen of Ballyseede Castle
For a day, anyway. And you can be too! Who hasn’t fantasized about escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life to a magnificent castle, complete with turrets, exquisite furnishings, and wait staff to cater to every whim? In Ireland, and in fact all across Europe, this fantasy comes true every day for lucky guests who have chosen castle stays as part of their vacation. Read on to discover the endless delights of our castle home-for-a-night at Ireland’s Ballyseede Castle.
Location and History
Ballyseede Castle and its 30 beautiful acres enjoy a prime location in County Kerry, near the justifiably famed Ring of Kerry in Ireland. With a long history dating all the way back to the 1500s, it was leased to the noble Blennerhassett family in 1590 for the rent of one single red rose, presented every year on Midsummer’s Day, and was occupied by the same family for almost 400 years until 1966.
Hidden from sight by a winding drive through granite pillars, Ballyseede Castle dramatically reveals its splendour as you emerge from the Irish woodland. Just try not to gasp as its stunning three stories of graceful ivy-covered walls, parapets, sweeping staircase and stone guard lions come into view! You may even be met (as we were) by Mr. Higgins, one of the castle’s friendly Irish Wolfhounds, and your castle adventure has begun!
More jaw-dropping views await as you enter the elegant lobby, with its crystal chandelier, beautifully tiled floor and twin columns flanking its grand staircase. You can relax in the imposing yet surprisingly comfortable throne beside the fireplace, or admire the portraits on the walls – and explore to your heart’s content! After all, this is your castle for the night, and it’s waiting for you to discover everything it has to offer. You can relax in a sitting room with some tea while gazing at the carefully manicured grounds, play a game of chess by the baby grand piano in the parlour, wander among suits of armor in the many castle hallways, or check out the orangery (a fancy term for “greenhouse”) en route to the West Wing. Don’t forget to explore the extensive grounds, which include a lovely gazebo and a field of miniature horses and donkeys.
When you get hungry from all that exploring, you’re in luck – Ballyseede Castle has a well-deserved reputation for excellent fine dining. You can eat amid lavish furnishings in the upscale O’Connell Restaurant, or enjoy a more intimate, casual bite to eat at Pappy’s Bar, with its dark wood beams and cosy library feel. When we dined at Pappy’s, we were delighted when one of the resident dogs (named Einstein) curled up at our feet and fell asleep. It was one of our favourite meals in Ireland! You can even order a dish to be brought to your room by room service (we recommend the cheese plate!).
When you’re ready to retire like a royal to your castle bedroom, luxury awaits. Our jaws certainly dropped upon walking into ours for the first time! You could have fit at least three of my first apartment in our room (which wasn’t even one of the more deluxe rooms available). Our king-size four-poster bed faced a chandelier and sitting area with a sofa and massive wall-mounted tv, and a chic clawfoot tub beckoned from the corner, with its own overhead lighting. Gorgeous designer wall panels featured tasteful grey and white damask wallpaper, and we had four very comfortable and stylish upholstered chairs (yes, I tried them all!). And the bathroom. Oh, the bathroom. Sleek floor to ceiling grey marbled tiles, a magical walk-in shower with two rain heads, and a water closet flush toilet with the tank mounted high on the wall – a modern take on a classic.
After your restful night of castle sleep, awake to an irresistibly delicious breakfast in the Stone Room Restaurant. The tapestries and rustic stone walls are the perfect backdrops for your meal; whether you choose from the buffet options or order your pick from the menu (if you’re brave, try the traditional Irish breakfast, with black and white puddings). The staff are courteous and very helpful – our waiter gave us valuable tips on where to travel in the area, and even offered to draw us a map to a local gem.
No one ever wants to leave a castle! But something that made it just a little easier for us to part was purchasing a souvenir carafe featuring Ballyseede’s logo, for 10 Euros. It has accompanied our dinners here at home ever since, and always reminds of the time we lived like royalty in an Irish castle.
This article on Ballyseede Castle and all accompanying photos were provided by Stacy Milford, one of Roguetrippers regular contributors. Check out her previous article on Urban Exploration.