Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate

Newmarket, Newmarket on Fergus, Co. Clare, Ireland

Among the best of Ireland’s castle hotels for its ambience and location—convenient to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren’s dreamy landscapes in county Clare—the 1830s-era Dromoland Castle was the home of the O’Brien family, who descended from Ireland’s heroic high king Brian Boru.

That royal air has drawn the likes of George Bush and Bono to this hotel. Or maybe they came for the suits of armor in the lobby, the elegant rooms overlooking a lake, and the 18-hole parkland golf course. They may have also come for a falconry program helmed by handsome falconer-cum-surfer Dave Atkinson: his peregrine falcon, Bruce, dives at 200 miles an hour to land lightly on guests’ gloved hands during walks through the property. Excellent clay-pigeon shooting and hunting bring some Irish families back every year. And one can’t forget the live music on property: wistful harp performances take place in the evenings in the Earl of Thomond restaurant, and traditional Irish music happens in the hotel’s cozy, antique-filled bar. Perhaps there is no one reason this hotel remains an Irish icon after more than 50 years in business, but it’s nice to see continual renovations keep the place comfortable and modern.

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