Ashford Castle

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Ashford Castle
A Home Worthy of ClanDonnell Protection

Ashford Castle is today a five star hotel and one of the most luxurious destinations in Europe. It was built by the powerful and wealthy Burke clan in the 13th century.

The Burkes, though, needed help holding on their lands in the early 15th Century. If you were the Burkes, who are you going to call?

ClanDonnell, of course.

The Burkes hired a large force of mercenaries of ClanDonnell. The McDonnells lived small groups in nearly a dozen locations, spread out over County Mayo and overlapping County Galway and County Sligo. Each of these was a small fortress, and each within a day or two march from each other and from Ashford Castle. Any invasion of Burke land would have to first pass by a McDonnell fortress before reaching Ashford.

The Burkes lost Ashford to the English in the late 16th Century (about the time the English captured hung ClanDonnell chief Justin McDonnell).

Ashford was owned by the Bingham family for centuries thereafter. The Binghams were, generation after generation, among the worst of the English absentee-landlords of Ireland. The Guinness family acquired the property in the 1850s. You can probably guess where this family acquired its fortune.

The Ashford Castle Hotel home page begins with a beautiful panoramic video of the hotel. The photographs on this page were taken by Linda McDonnell.

I think you can see why the Burkes were so concerned about the defense of Ashford, and why they hired Ireland's fiercest warriors for its protection.