Dromoland Castle Golf and Country Club
If you’ve ever dreamed of staying in an authentic castle as part of an Irish golf vacation, Dromoland Castle Golf & Country Club is the place for you. Located less than 20 minutes from Shannon Airport, a stay at the idyllic Dromoland Castle is an ideal way to begin – or end – your trip with a unique bang.
One of the most famous baronial castles in Ireland, Dromoland was the ancestral home of the O’Briens, Barons of Inchiquin. They were one of the few native Gaelic families of royal blood and direct descendants of Brian Boroimhe (Boru) High Kind of Ireland in the eleventh century. Be sure to set aside an hour for a horse and carriage tour of the property complete with a detailed history of the castle and estate.
The castle’s present main building was completed in 1835, although 28 of the guest rooms date back to 1736. The family home wasn’t transformed into a hotel until the 1960’s when it underwent major renovations.
Your accommodation options at the distinguished hotel include the Queen Anne rooms overlooking the enclosed Queen Anne Courtyard featuring manicured planting and trailing wall ivy, deluxe rooms overlooking the lake and gardens, executive deluxe rooms overlooking the Castle fountains as well as staterooms and executive suites. Ireland’s most famous Castle has hosted G7 Summits, several US Presidents and several Heads of State.
Whether you stay at Dromoland Castle or the Inn at Dromoland, which is situated on its grounds, it’s 18 hole championship golf course stands on its own and is well worth playing. It recently staged the Irish Club Professionals PGA Championship, a major on the Irish PGA circuit. Widely regarded as one of the finest parkland designs in Ireland, the Dromoland Castle Golf & Country Club is entertaining and challenging, with the stunning baronial castle as a backdrop on several holes.
The Carr family have a special connection to this golf course, as the layout was reconfigured and upgraded at the hands of J.B. Carr in partnership with Ron Kirby in 2003. Both J.B and Ron Kirby also collaborated on the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Links.
The Dromoland golf course’s beguiling holes meander through 450 acres of shady woodland, open rolling pasture and natural lakes and streams with the stunning Dromoland Castle standing sentinel. Offering an ideal layout to ease into your round, the par-4 1st hole has no bunkers and the hilltop green is accessible via both run up and high-lofted shots. The course features a captivating mix of uphill and downhill slopes, friendly yet challenging greens and a full complement of bunkers and water hazards to be avoided.
J.B. Carr always believed that the most talked about holes in golf were the ones that were controversial. The 18th at Dromoland Golf Club is one such hole, a Par 5 and boasts a large Cedar Tree in the middle of the fairway, about 120 yards from the green. It invariably causes great difficulty in positioning the 2nd shot. The green is raised with the beautiful lake on the right and the Castle to the left. In the design discussions Mark Nolan, the general manager, passed on the view of some members that the tree should be removed. This tree became the source of great debate on every visit of J.B.’s and indeed with each storm that passed through.
Several years after the course was completed, J.B. and his wife Mary were staying at their favorite Castle when J.B. took ill. An ambulance was called and J.B. was being brought to the ambulance on a gurney. Mark was informed and immediately arrived on the scene. J.B. with his oxygen mask on beckoned Mark close, closer still and then croaked
“Don’t touch that feckin tree”
In addition to championship golf, Dromoland also offers a full spa and myriad of activities ranging from fishing and clay shooting to biking and horseback riding. Dining options include the award-winning Earl of Thomond restaurant for dinner and the Fig Tree Restaurant, located in the Golf & Country Club, for all-day dining.
While in County Clare, be sure to visit famed Lahinch Golf Club, located less than an hour northwest of Dromoland. Described as “The St Andrews of Ireland,” Lahinch is celebrating 125 years of golf this year. The renowned club boasts two layouts: the Championship Course is situated on the Atlantic Ocean while the Castle Course is slightly inland. The iconic Klondyke (4th) and Dell (5th) holes on the Championship Course remain intact from the original Tom Morris design.
County Kerry’s Ballybunion Golf Club, nestled on the rugged Atlantic coast 90 minutes southwest of Dromoland, rounds out an exquisite Irish golf itinerary. Founded in 1893, the distinguished club will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2018. Its two traditional links layouts – the august Old Course (established in 1893) and the newer Cashen Course (1984) – are both unique in character and test all aspects of your game while playing through the dramatic seaside dunes.