Ballynahinch castle in Connemara mountains, Ireland

Ballynahinch Castle, located in peaceful Connemara, overlooks the Owenmore River from its private, 700 acre estate. It’s ideally located to explore the Wild Atlantic Way and Twelve Bens Mountain Range.  Relax and enjoy beautifully appointed rooms and elegant dining in this gorgeous setting.

Ballynahinch (Baile na hlnse), means ‘household of the Island’, and refers to the O’Flaherty Castle built on an Island in the lake.

The History of Ballynahinch Castle

A Pirate Queen

In the mid-1500’s, sixteen year old Grace O’Malley married Donal O’Flaherty, joining together two of Ireland’s most powerful families. Ballynahinch was one of many castles held by the O’Flahertys. When Donal died, Grace took over as clan leader and her notorious life as a pirate was immortalised in the Broadway musical “The Pirate Queen”. She famously met with Queen Elizabeth I in 1593 and was the only Gaelic woman ever to appear at the Royal Court. It was written of her at the time “In the wild grandeur of her mien erect and high Before the English Queen she dauntless stood.” She died the same year as Queen Elizabeth – in 1603 – and to this day her final resting place remains a mystery.

Descendents of the Crusaders

In 1590 the estate was sold to Robert Martin whose family have a lineage that stretches back to the Crusader, Sir Oliver Martin who received armorial bearings from Richard the Lionheart.  They were the first of the Tribes – a group of 14 merchant families who dominated life in Galway – to move their household outside the walls of the city.

Humanity Dick….or Hair-Trigger Dick?

The current house was built in 1756 by Robert Martin’s descendants as an inn. It was extensively renovated in 1813 after which the house became the principle residence of the Martin family who were, by this time, members of the British Parliament. Head of the household, Richard Martin, led an opulent lifestyle complete with lavish soirees. A fact which no doubt caused his money troubles in later years. During his time as an MP he was responsible for the founding of the RSPCA, earning him the title of “Humanity Dick”.  He also gained notoriety as a duelist…leading to another nickname – “Hair-Trigger Dick”.

A London Brewer

In 1850, following the Great Famine, Ballynahinch was one of many houses sold through the Encumbered Estates Court, before being sold again in 1870 to a London brewer – Richard Berridge. His refurbishment and expansion led to the building we see today. The Estate remained in his family for two generations.

An Indian Prince….and Famous Cricketer

In 1924, His Highness the Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanager, a.k.a. Ranji Prince of Cricketers, fell in love with Connemara during a fishing holiday and ultimately became the new owner of Ballynahinch. He’s most famous as a world class cricketer who still holds many unbroken records. He made extensive improvements to the castle, including most of the garden landscaping and construction of the fishing piers and huts along the river.

Following his untimely death in 1933, the property was sold to Mr Fredrick C. McCormack who owned it until his death in 1946.

The Estate was then purchased by the Irish Tourism Board  who opened the famed fisheries to the public. It was sold again in 1952 and has remained privately owned ever since, with three families owning the property over the past 66 years. During the years the hotel has been extended and updated.

Curious Fact

The Castle has long been a place of inspiration for artists and writers. Today, they work with Occasional Press to publish artistic or literary works that are related to the property, local area and people.  You can purchase these and other works at the hotel bookshop.

Connemara Countryside

What’s it Rated?

An indulgent 4 stars

Get Me There Now!

Recess, Connemara
Co. Galway
Ireland

3 hours 30 minutes from Dublin Airport

2 hours 20 minutes from Shannon Airport

1 hour 25 minutes from Galway Airport

Famous Guests Before Me

You’re going to be in good company…

  • Eamon de Valera
  • US President Gerald Ford
  • Sir Alec Guinness

The hotel was voted #1 in Ireland by Conde Nast travellers

Rooms at Ballynahinch Castle

Kick back in style while you soak in the gorgeous views. Each room is unique with tasteful decorations and 24 hour room service. All rooms offer crisp white linens, individually controlled heating, tea/coffee making facilities, hairdryer, direct dial phone, complimentary bottled water, flatscreen TV’s, free WiFi and evening turn-down service.

Classic Room

  •  Most are situated in the original house (3 are in the Riverside Wing)
  •  Decorated in a country sporting estate style
  •   215 to 344 sq ft rooms with king or twin beds

Classic Riverside Room

  •  Situated in the old house which was built in the 1700’s
  •  Each room has its own unique décor which reflects the colours of the Connemara landscape
  •  215 to 344 sq ft rooms with king or twin beds

Superior Room

  • Most of these spacious rooms overlook the river
  • Two superior rooms are located in the original house and have views of the woodlands for those who prefer a room in the house but with extra space, dressing room, bathtub and walk-in shower
  • 463 sq ft with king or twin beds (some with four poster beds)
  • Bathrobes, slippers and twin hand basins

Luxury Room

  • Located in the newer wing with spectacular views of the river, garden and woodlands
  • Spacious rooms that include walk through dressing rooms, separate bath and shower, spacious seating areas
  • Ground floor rooms have access to the gardens through French doors
  • 463 sq ft with king or twin beds
  • Bathrobes, slippers and twin hand basins
  • Pillow top mattress
  • i-Pod docking station

Riverside Suite

  • Enjoy river and woodland views from an exquisitely furnished room
  • Located in the newer wing
  • 645 sq ft one bedrooms suites with king or twin beds
  • 882 sq ft two bedroom suites with king or twin beds
  • 4 poster beds in the main bedroom
  • Beautiful bathrooms with separate dressing rooms
  • Spacious lounge areas
  • Bathrobes, slippers and twin hand basins
  • Pillow top mattress
  • i-Pod docking station

Dining at Ballynahinch

At Ballynahinch you can enjoy gourmet delights with breathtaking views.

  • Soak up the relaxed elegance of the Owenmore Restaurant where chef Pete Durkan and the team create culinary magic with fresh produce from the region. Meanwhile, you’ll be surrounded with a beautiful collection of artwork that adorns the walls.
  • For a friendly pub vibe there’s the Fisherman’s Pub & Ranji Room, popular with locals and visitors alike. Warm up by the open fire while you peruse a menu featuring local produce in seasonal dishes such as Wild Atlantic Salmon and Killary prawns.  Or perhaps organic venison and woodcock is more to your taste. (is your mouth watering yet?)
  • On Saturdays afternoon you can enjoy a traditional high tea. Indulge in all the sweet and savory delights of a traditional afternoon tea which also features a tea menu compiled by Jorg Mueller – a Galway-based master tea blender. Be sure to check out the signature house tea blend that features ingredients foraged from the Twelve Ben Mountains.

What else can I do here?

Fishing

Ballynahinch is world-renowned as one of the finest fisheries in Ireland with outstanding fly fishing for salmon and trout. The season runs from 1 Feburary to 30 September. The best time for sea trout fishing is from early June until the end of July.

Hiking

If you love to hike, you’ll love staying at Ballynahinch. There are plenty of easy walks through the Estate woodlands and for the more adventurous, the Twelve Bens, Maumturk Mountains and the surrounding Connemara countryside offer endless possibilities.  The hotel has a walking guide on-site who can give you insight into the history, archaeology and ecology of the area.

Connemara-National-Park

Island & Lobster Experience

Inishlacken is an island of picturesque beauty with its white sandy beaches, bird life and derelict houses. You can reach the island on a guided boat trip that also visits a grey seal colony in the Ballynahinch estuary.

Clay Shooting & Private Tutorials

Whether you’ve never touched a gun or are an experienced marksman, you’ll enjoy the
Connemara Shooting School at Ballynahinch Castle Hotel. You’ll be in good hands with chief instructor Shane Bisgood who has taught to International and Olympics standard.

Cycling

Hop on two wheels and explore the spectacular coastline and country side. Cycling tours are available for those who want to enjoy a leisurely cycle, right up to active and challenge rides. For the adventurous, there’s the beautiful Derroura Mountain Bike Trail – a 14km long track through stunning Connemara scenery.

Other Activities

  • Connemara National Park
  • Clifden Railway Line
  • Glengowla Mines
  • Brigit’s Garden
  • Croagh Patrick
  • Kylemore Abbey
  • Clifden Castle
  • Teach an Phiarsaigh (Pearses Cottage)
  • Aughnanure Castle
  • Cromwell’s Barracks
  • Westport House and Gardens
  • Explore the Wild Atlantic Way
  • Explore local villages, art galleries and museums

 

Ballynahinch Castle Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/ Patryk Kosmider

 

2 Comments

  • Oh, beautiful hotel! Great beautiful photographs of breath taking picturesque sceneries really make me feel like I’m in Ballynahinch Castle. Your in-depth write-up about the hotel, locality and the services available in the hotel are really helpful for the people who want to visit this place.
    The world class entertainment facilities of the Hotel are really amazing. Definitely I want to visit this place in the near future.
    Thank you for the great review.

    • Hi Himbru,

      Thank you for your visit and comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post – Ballynahinch Castle is a gorgeous place indeed!

      Cheers

      Margaret

Leave a Comment