This month you have the opportunity to win a revitalising break for two in Belleek Castle
, situated just outside Ballina Co Mayo amidst 1,000 acres of woodland and forestry, on the banks of the River Moy, Paul Doran’s castle was the ancestral home of the Earl of Arran and, with a 16th century armoury, big open fires and massive chandeliers among many quirky features, it now makes an unusual small hotel.
Belleek Castle is as different from a standard modern hotel as it is possible to be (it is registered as a three star hotel), but it manages to combine old world charm with modern comforts - the eleven bedrooms will vary according to their position in the house, but the best are bright and spacious, with four-poster beds and views out over the grounds.
This is a wacky place for those who enjoy something out of the ordinary and it would be great fun for a group get together. The Armada Bar is a recreation of the Captains Ward Room from a galleon in the Spanish Armada - partly constructed from timbers salvaged from the galleons of the ill fated Castile Squadron wrecked off County Mayo four centuries ago, it should provide plenty of talking points to pep up your drink.
It makes a romantic wedding venue (the banqueting room is in medieval castle style), and the many activities to choose from nearby include championship golf, walking, surfing, and salmon and trout fishing on site; or, with its informal and friendly ambience, the castle simply makes an unusual base to explore this beautiful area.
Head Chef Stephen Lenahan, who has been in charge of the kitchens for well over a decade, is committed to local suppliers and produce - meats, game in season, seafood, organic vegetables from nearby Enniscoe House; admirably seasonal menus include a predictably amusing quotation from Brillat-Savarin (on how to spot a potentially congenial dining companion by their appearance), but they begin in the best possible place, with warmly worded thanks to 'Respected Suppliers' and details of the produce they now grow in their own polytunnel.
In the Guide's experience, the cooking at this 60 seater restaurant is faultless with the West Coast Shellfish Selection (a nage containing fresh crab, mussels and pasta wrapped prawns scented with a saffron glaze) coming in for special praise.
The lucky winner of this free competition will get a short break for two people sharing (subject to availability), to include:
• 2 nights accommodation
• Full Irish breakfast on both mornings
• Dinner for two people from the Market or A la Carte menus
Read more about Belleek Castle on their website.
To enter the competition simply tick the answers to the questions below, you must be a logged in member to enter (if you are not a member click here to join, it's free):