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The Dromoland Castle Hotel welcomes guests with a five-star experience that can include golf, spa and fine dining.
The Dromoland Castle Hotel welcomes guests with a five-star experience that can include golf, spa and fine dining. (Jason Scott Deegan/TravelGolf)

Ireland's Dromoland Castle Hotel celebrates its 50th anniversary as a five-star retreat

Jason Scott DeeganBy Jason Scott Deegan,
Senior Staff Writer

The Dromoland Castle Hotel is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a luxury destination in grand style.

The castle dates back centuries as a defensive stronghold before being transformed into a five-star getaway in 1962. The main building, completed in 1835, remains one of the most authentic castle experiences in all of Europe. Dromoland sits just minutes from the Shannon Airport in Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, an ideal spot to start or end a golf trip to the highly sought-after southwest of Ireland.

What's new at this historic retreat ranges from small details, such as a new logo, to big additions -- the purchase and $1.5-million renovation of a nearby inn.

Dromoland Castle Hotel: What's new

To celebrate its gold anniversary, Dromoland Castle has created a new logo, crafted a celebratory lager, commissioned a tartan by an historical local mill, renovated the Presidential Suite, redesigned the Fig Tree Restaurant, launched The Shop at Dromoland and added the 181-room Clare Inn to its accommodation offerings.

The new sister property is now called The Inn at Dromoland Castle, located on 21 acres adjacent to the resort. Opened in 1968, the Inn was originally part of the Dromoland estate. The new relationship will now allow both hotels to offer a wider complement of activities and amenities to guests during their stays.

The Ballyhannon Suite, the inn's newly renovated banqueting center, caters to events hosting as many as 400 guests, offering state-of-the-art sound and lighting facilities and excellent dining options. Three halls can host smaller events as well. Guests have told staff that the 24 renovated guestrooms feel more like four-star accommodations than three.

More changes -- which Managing Director Mark Nolan calls "a renaissance" of the inn -- are yet to come. "The teams at both properties are very excited that they have reunited after a 20-year separation and already have benefited greatly from the shared synergies," Nolan said.

Back at Dromoland Castle, only a select few will get a glimpse of the new Presidential Suite, decorated by No. Twelve Queen Street, a renowned design firm based in Bath, England. The centerpiece of the four-room suite -- home to a sitting room, dressing room, bathroom and bedroom -- is a four-poster bed, the first in modern times of the castle.

The renovation of the Fig Tree Restaurant at the Dromoland Castle Golf & Country Club was meant to bring the outdoors in. It's a comfortable place to dine even for guests who aren't golfers.

Dromoland's celebratory beer, an Irish blonde ale, was craft-made at the Dungarvan Brewing Company. As they say in Ireland: Sláinte!

Dromoland Castle Hotel: What's old

It's a taste of the old world that attracts visitors to Dromoland Castle, the ancestral home of the O'Briens, Barons of Inchiquin, one of the few native Gaelic families of royal blood and direct descendants of Brian Boroimhe (Boru), High King of Ireland in the 11th century.

The 99-room castle is surrounded by more than 450 acres of breathtaking scenery, including its own lough (an Irish lake), river, forests, gardens and golf course. Guests can party like it's 1799 by listening to a harpist at dinner in the Earl of Thomond restaurant or by practicing falconry, one of the oldest forms of hunting, on the grounds of the estate. Just taking a stroll feels like a step back in time.

The Dromoland Castle Golf & Country Club's course feels equally old-school, like a classic country club. Ron Kirby, one of the original architects, returned with Irish golf legend J.B. Carr to complete a $5-million renovation in 2003 to spruce up one of the best Irish parkland playgrounds.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

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