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Site Ireland was fortunate to partner with Ashford Castle for their 2015 educational trip. The magnificent five star Ashford Castle is set on 350 acres, on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib. Dating back to 1228, the castle now enters a new chapter in its history, as part of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection. It has been brought back to life by Red Carnation Hotels, a South African group founded by husband-and-wife team Stanley and Beatrice Tollman who spent almost €50 million on restoring it to its former glory, while adding some modern touches.

Ashford won Hotel of the Year in the 2015 Virtuoso Awards – an accolade it truly deserves.


Team de Burgo racing around the grounds

A new spa and swimming pool has opened, while a 32-seat cinema has been added, along with a billiards room and a cigar terrace. Former coal bunkers under the castle have been turned into a “wine cavern”. The hotel is beautifully luxurious and opulent but what makes it so special is the staff, many of whom are second or third generation working in the Castle.

Site Ireland enjoyed a spectacular ‘Race to the Throne’ experience, splitting into the House de Burgo and House O’Connor, we made our way though the enchanting Castle grounds undertaking some challenges along the way to make it first to the Throne.  No stately challenge would be complete without a round of archery and Ashford did not let us down! Ciara and Aine were fortunate (read competitive!) enough to be on the winning team and enjoyed a luxurious carriage ride around the grounds of the Castle – another magical enhancement.


Ovation’s Aine and Ciara enjoying their horse drawn carriage

Next day’s highlight was the boat ride on Lough Corrib, whilst we sat back and enjoyed the history of the castle and area from Patrick from Corrib Cruises and enjoyed some tunes on the accordion and songs from local man Michael, whose claim to fame was as an extra in ‘The Quiet Man’ movie.

This sense of local pride in this jewel in the crown extends to the village of Cong where Site Ireland guests got to enjoy the Cong Village Food Trail – a new product which won second in the recent Milan EXPO.

The food, the innovation, pride, history & storytelling make this food trail a very special enhancement to the Ashford experience.

Ashford is so much more than just pure luxury, it really is about the welcome. We enjoyed a very special evening in the George V dining room with the best of food & wine but the whole experience was once again enhanced by the staff who really know how to treat guests with the most hospitable of care and to make guests feel special, comfortable and at their ease and this adds immeasurably to the Ashford Experience.

Site Pres

Site Presidents Past and Present – Ken Lyons of the Westbury, Ovation’s Aine O’Keefe, Ovation Global’s Aoife Delaney and Pat Delaney of Sool Nua

Ashford Castle is a true incentive property, one that people will long to go to and one that will stay with them long after they have left. Make sure it is part of your 2016 trip to Ireland.

Site Ireland wishes to extend its thanks again to Niall Rochford, GM Ashford & Eilish Wall, Sales & Marketing manager for their wonderful hospitality and generosity for an unforgettable Site Ireland educational trip.

Ashford Afternoon Tea


Aine O’Keefe, & Ciara Byrne both attended as local members of the Site Ireland chapter.