Renowned as a fishing hotel, this wonderful place was the Guide's Hotel of the Year in 2012.
A crenellated Victorian mansion, it enjoys a most romantic position in 450 acres of ancient woodland and gardens on the banks of the Ballynahinch River.
Its scale is impressive and, in the excellent care of hands-on General Manager Patrick O'Flaherty and his outstanding staff, the atmosphere relaxed - a magic combination, which, together with a high level of comfort and friendliness (and an invigorating mixture of residents and locals in the bar at night), combine to bring people back.
The tone is set in the foyer, with its huge stone fireplace and ever-burning log fire - a cosy place to enjoy afternoon tea. The many necessary renovations and extensions through the years have been undertaken with great attention to period detail, a policy also carried through successfully in furnishing both public areas and bedrooms, many of which have lovely views over the river.
A stay here is always a restorative treat - especially if you have a choice of rooms to suit your needs; some ground floor rooms overlooking the river have direct access to the gardens, for example, and - while the style is generally quite traditional - there are some on the top floor which have recently been ever-so-slightly-modernised in a lovely gentle classic style, with bathrooms to match.
And, after a restful night’s sleep, a Ballynahinch breakfast will give you a good start ahead of a day’s fishing, wilderness walks and other activities on the estate (the gardens, including a walled kitchen garden that is undergoing restoration, should not be missed), or simply touring the area.
Fishing: 3 miles of private fly fishing for Atlantic salmon, sea trout and brown trout. Landscaped gardens and wilderness walks on 450 acres; members of Connemara Garden Trail; cycling, tennis. Golf nearby.
Small conferences (12). Children welcome (under 3s free in parents' room; cots available without charge, baby sitting arranged). No pets.
Rooms 48 (3 suites, all with separate bath & shower, all no smoking). B&B from about €110 pps, ss €40. No lift. 24 hr room service. Free broadband wifi. Short/special interest/off season breaks offered - details on application.
This bright and elegant room has recently undergone a gentle makeover, and is carefully organised to allow as many tables as possible to enjoy its uniquely beautiful river setting, where you can watch happy fisherfolk claiming the last of the fading daylight on the rocks below.
After eight years very successfully leading the kitchen team, head chef Xin Sun left Ballynahinch Castle in autumn 2015, and moved with his family to Galway. The baton then passed to Ultan Cooke, well known in Ireland from his two year spell as head chef of Aniar in Galway, who is clearly relishing "bringing the larder of Connemara onto the tables of Ballynahinch Castle".
Staff are hospitable and relaxed, and a thoughtfully assembled wine list offers an unusual range of house wines and a good choice of half bottles – and expert advice on making the best choices for your meal.
*Excellent meals are also served in the hotel’s characterful bar, the Fisherman’s Pub, a mighty high-ceilinged room with a huge fireplace and many mementos of the pleasures of rod and hunt. The original bar has recently been extended into the adjacent room, an extension that works very well due to its sympathetic furnishings - and, especially, the inclusion of another huge fireplace.
An informal alternative to the Owenmore experience, the pub is known for its good food and conviviality - and it's a great place for non-residents to drop into for a bite when touring Connemara.