The ancestral home of the O'Briens, barons of Inchiquin and direct descendants of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, this is one of the few Irish estates tracing its history back to Gaelic royal families, and it is now one of Ireland's grandest hotels, and one of the best-loved.
Today's visitor will be keenly aware of this sense of history yet find it a relaxing hotel, where the grandeur of the surroundings - the castle itself, its lakes and parkland and magnificent furnishings - enhances the pleasure for guests, without overpowering.
It is an enchanting place, where wide corridors lined with oak panelling are hung with ancient portraits and scented with the haunting aroma of wood smoke, and it has all the crystal chandeliers and massive antiques to be expected in a real Irish castle.
Guest rooms and suites vary in size and appointments, but are generally spacious, have all been refurbished recently and have luxurious bathrooms; although always refurbished in keeping the with castle, the range of rooms and suites offered now includes some more contemporary ones (with all the attendant technical bells and whistles) as well as the traditional style for which Dromoland Castle is best known.
The Brian Boru International Centre can accommodate almost any type of gathering, including exhibitions, conferences, weddings and banquets, and the recently opened 'Spa at Dromoland' (which is really beautiful) is the perfect complement.
Under the watchful eye of the warm and caring General Manager, Mark Nolan, for many years now, Dromoland Castle is an outstanding example of the best of Irish hospitality - it is a joy to experience the very best, and the steadfast dedication of the team here is something to be treasured.
Conference/banqueting (450/300); business centre; secretarial services on request. Leisure centre (indoor pool, sauna, jacuzzi, masseuse, beauty salon, hairdressing); Spa; championship golf (18); tennis, cycling, walking, clay pigeon shooting, croquet, fly fishing, garden, pool table. Gift shop, boutique. No pets. Children welcome (under 12's free in parents' room, cot available free of charge, baby sitting arranged).
Rooms 98 (6 suites, 8 junior suites, 13 executive, 49 separate bath & shower, all no smoking, 1 disabled). Lift. 24 hr room service. Room rate €443 (max 2 guests), SC inc. Breaks offered. Closed 25 Dec.
Earl of Thomond Restaurant:
Dining here is always a treat by any standards - it is a magnificent room, with twinkling crystal, gilding and rich fabrics, and has a lovely view over the lake and golf course.
Outstanding food and service invariably match the surroundings, and then some: begin with an aperitif in the Library Bar, overlooking the eighth green, before moving through to beautifully presented tables and gentle background music provided by a traditional Irish harpist.
David McCann, who has been doing a superb job as Executive Head Chef since 1994, presents a wonderful selection of luxurious dishes on an à la carte menu, which is also available as a five course table d'hôte menu; separate vegetarian and children's menus are also available.
The offering is predictably glamorous with great attention to detail in both the sourcing of ingredients and the cooking, and a commitment to the use of Quality Assured produce is highlighted on the menu; although the style is basically classic French some dishes - such as an Assiette of lamb with savoy cabbage, celeriac purée, cucumber, tomato & taggon jus - highlight local ingredients and are more Irish in tone.
Delicious desserts include a number of variations on classics (with a suggested wine to accompany each one) and there's an excellent range of Irish farmhouse cheeses.
The cooking here is invariably exquisite, and excellent service, under the warm direction of Restaurant Manager Tony Frisby, is a match for the food.
The wine list - about 250 wines, predominantly French - is under constant review, (house wines from about €27), and Sommelier Brigid O'Hora has a very nice way of gently guiding guests towards the best choices to accompany their meal.
The breakfast menu includes a number of specialities: buttermilk pancakes with lemon & maple syrup, Limerick ham with mushrooms, poached eggs, toast & cheddar cheese are all on offer as well as a well-laden buffet, and the traditional Irish cooked breakfast - and proper toast in a toast rack (more unusual than one might think), with handmade preserves from G's Jams in Abbeyleix to accompany too.
A treat indeed.