A visit to Ireland should include a stay at an Irish Castle and the 4-star Ballyseede Castle is an ideal choice. Not only is it well located but its pricing will surprise you, as I found it to be inexpensive. It has a 4-star rating but the service is 6-star and the staff are well versed in local destinations and are extremely helpful when you plan your daily excursions.
Ballyseede Castle Hotel in Tralee, County Kerry offers luxury accommodation in 23 elegant rooms located over three floors and all within the original Castle. The Bedrooms are elegant and spacious and come in a large variety from mini-suites to large family rooms, deluxe four posters and superior rooms.
The en-suites have power showers, hair dryers, and the toiletries are from the Gilchrist and Soames spa therapy range. All rooms provide beautiful warm cotton robes for each guest.
The fantastic corridor, known as “Paddy’s Way”, where each room is named after famous Irish Paddys. Have a flutter by staying in the Paddy Power room or be enchanted with poetry in the Paddy Kavanagh room. Sing a tune in the Paddy Clancy Room or maybe the art of horse training will rub off in the Paddy Prendergast room. What were once stables for the horses on the estate have been beautifully transformed into luxurious well-appointed rooms.
Enjoy the highest level of comfort, privacy and service. Each visit will be treasured as all rooms offer the ultimate in relaxation, each with its own unique character.
The Castle stands on its own grounds at the end of a winding carriage drive. This elegant Castle looks as if it were built to outlive the vices and follies of man. It has been fought over, lived in and loved, and carries forward its ancient grandeur to this age. Ballyseede Castle was the chief garrison of the legendary Fitzgerald’s, Earls of Desmond, many of whom refused to swear allegiance to the crown, which resulted in the infamous Geraldine Wars that continued intermittently for three centuries and concluded with the beheading of Gerald, 16th Earl, in the Demesne of Ballyseede and whose head was exhibited in a cage on London Bridge.
Following the defeat of the Desmoids in 1584, the Castle plus 3,000 acres of land was granted as a perpetual lease to Robert Blennerhassett, the rent being one red rose to be presented each year on Midsummer’s Day. This noble family and their descendants occupied Ballyseede until 1966.
Ballyseede Castle is a large three-story block over a basement, with two curved bows on the entrance front and another bow at the south side and a battlemented parapet. Inside the impressive lobby, Doric columns lead to an elegant wooden bifurcating staircase of fine oak joinery, which is almost unique in Ireland.
There are two magnificent drawing rooms with cornices plasterwork, adorned by marble fireplaces, which are ideal to have afternoon tea or morning coffee. In the library bar there is a great-carved oak chimneypiece over a mantle that dates back to 1627. There is a splendid Banqueting Hall where feastings and entertainment were carried out in a grand manner.
We began each day in the Stone Room Restaurant where breakfast was served. We had the choice of locally sourced produce, Irish cheeses, pastries and meats and a selection from a wide variety of fruits and juices from the buffet table. Our main course was chosen from the menu and while having breakfast the ever-helpful staff advised us interesting places that we could visit on our daily trips. Here breakfast was not to be rushed, enjoyed whilst chatting to other guests that we had befriended.
The Library Bar is the all-day dining option serving soups, salads, snacks and an extensive charcoal grill menu throughout the day. We spent an evening in the relaxing company of other guests gathered around the fire discussing the day’s journeys and
enjoying a homemade minted lamb burger on a floury bap served with a cucumber-yoghurt-dip, salad and handcut fries and a traditional beef and Guinness casserole – tender strips of beef and root vegetables, simmered in a rich Guinness and rosemary gravy, finished with baby potatoes and washed down with a Guinness.
The O’Connell Restaurant at Ballyseede Castle is unique for serving beautiful food in magnificent surroundings. One can have the choice of a two or five course dinner, be forewarned, if you are going to the five-course dinner, have a light lunch, so that you will be able to really savour the superb dinner. The refined Irish cuisine using locally sourced seasonal ingredients was complemented by an extensive list of fine wines and spirits.
The evening we had dinner in the O’Connell restaurant I had homemade chicken liver and brandy parfait with port jelly, Cumberland and orange sauce and Melba toast for starters, followed by vegetable soup enriched with cream and garden herbs. My main course was a duo of roast rack of Kerry lamb and braised shoulder with crispy lamb sweet breads on an herb stuffing, celeriac puree and a rich lamb jus. My sumptuous dessert was vanilla meringue layered with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and crème Anglaise.
Ballyseede is perfectly located to enjoy some of the best of Irish scenery and history. The Ring of Kerry, the Ring of Beara on the Dingle Peninsula, Killarney National Park, Muckross House, Ross castle, Torc waterfall and the Black Valley are all nearby and make for fabulous day trips.
As a travel writer I have stayed in some magnificent hotels, such as the Mount Nelson in Cape Town, Amansara in Cambodia and King Edward in Toronto, but these were one of the advantages of my profession – they were gratis. Ballyseede is unreservedly the best money-for-value hotel I have stayed in. I had one complaint about Ballyseede – we had to leave.
Perhaps on my next visit to Ireland I will stay in their other castle, Cabra Castle Hotel, Kingscourt in County Cavan.
Nothing in this world is perfect – but Ballyseede Castle comes close.