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LUXURY RESORTS: Dromoland castle, ireland 

Style: Castle chic
Scene: In golf-course green
Seen in the Lobby: Newly purchased flat-caps, country-wear

WE’RE ON an early morning pony and trap ride around the impressive grounds of Dromoland castle. The ponies’ hooves click on the cobbles of the old stables as, in a gentle lilting brogue, Sean our driver tells tales of secret clocks and optical illusions, of a castle nearly lost for a bet and a beloved horse buried in the grounds.  I confess they are so extraordinary I think he must have kissed the Blarney stone. Later on I find they are all true. Which makes Dromoland and even more exciting place than I thought.  A member of the Legend Collection from Preferred Hotels & Resorts the castle is one of the finest hotels in Ireland with some of the best stories to tell. 

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Dromoland Castle
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Dromoland Castle Hotel

Paddy the horse pulls us part of the way down the long, winding driveway, which meanders through the manicured lawns of the castle’s 18-hole championship golf course and past the mirror-like private lake.  We explore the stable block-turned gift shop with its hanging baskets of flowers and homemade jams and the pretty walled garden, where bees buzz around hollyhocks. From the rotunda in the  centre of the woods I look back at the sixteenth century castle with turrets fit for a princess, ivy covered walls and  think of all the people who have lived within its blue stone walls.

This was the ancestral home of the O’Briens of Dromoland who were the Kings of Thomond and whose lineage goes back 1,000 years to Brian Boru, the only High King of Ireland. The public rooms on the main floor of the castle look very much the same now as when , Sir Donough O'Brien, the 16th Baron of Inchiquin  finally sold the castle in 1962, , although his octagonal shaped study, under the round tower, is now a cocktail bar, and his library is now part of the dining room.

Theres a range of accommodation from Queen Anne guest rooms housed in a  quadrangle built in 1736 by Sir Edward O'Brien and to majestic staterooms and suites within the walls of the main castle. These all  have  bespoke furniture and unique decorations in each room with fabrics specially commissioned by Colefax and Fowler. Our room has mint green walls curling with colefax flowers and Louis XV furniture.

A sweeping oak staircase with stained glass windows lead down to the main  lounge and dining rooms . There’s ruby red carpet and fires blazing in impressively large fireplaces, as well as the requisite number of oil painting sand coat of arms. And even if the thought of sitting by a roaring fire curled up with a book won’t tempt you to stay insid , the food definitely will. 

Executive Head Chef David McCann has been overseeing the kitchens at Dromoland Castle since 1995. He trained at the Connaught in London and it shows In the glorious Earl of Thomond dining room with is chandeliers and old oak doors  The menu is formal but fun and so is the atmosphere (Jackets gentleman please) .

Tennis, swimming, golf, riding, falconry and clay pigeon shooting are all on offer and experienced ghillies can be booked for fishing sessions on the lake.  On our last afternoon we book in for a fishing trip and discover that it is the company of our ghillie as much as his expertise that we enjoy.  Under his guidance my son proudly lands a silvery rainbow trout after the three that got away. Then my husband catches a fish too.  I feel a tug on my line, it bends in two – this is going to be a monster. Finally I reel in a sock.  It must have been snagged on some reeds. The shimmering lake below Dromoland Castle in County Clare is packed with brown and rainbow trout but at best there is probably only a pair of socks. Lost I suspect by a golfer paddling in to retrieve a ball while playing the castle’s challenging course. “Don’t laugh at your mamie,” says our guide. “Anyone can land a fish, sure but it takes talent to land a sock”.

 We throw back the sock but take the trout to the hotel kitchen where the chef prepares it for our evening meal.  A glass of Guinness and the freshest fish we’ve ever tasted make our last evening at Dromoland Castle one of the best we spend in Ireland.

Check in: Dromoland, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare, V95 ATD3, Ireland
Ultimate Luxury: A stay in the Presidential Suite, complete with our-poster bed
Most Indulgent Moment: Sitting in the lounge in front of a blazing open fire
Insider Secrets: The rotunda in the woodland is designed as an optical illusion it has a different number of columns depending on where you view it
The Little Things: They'll cook the fish you catch in the lake
Junior Luxies: Very welcome and well catered for
Dress code:country casual ,except in the main diing room (jackets please)
Perfect luggage:Leather and canvas
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Resorts Links: www.preferredhotels.com , www.dromoland.ie  ,  www.discoverireland.ie
 Hilary Doling 14/11/16
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