If you’re looking to stay in a castle just 10 minutes from downtown Dublin then Clontarf Castle is your go to. It’s a boutique luxury hotel that has won a multitude of awards.
In Gaelic, Clontarf translates to “Cluain Tarbh” meaning Meadow of the Bull
The History of Clontarf Castle
Although the current building dates from 1837, there has been a castle on these grounds since the 12th century. The area of Clontarf itself is famous for the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.
The Knights Templar
The first castle was built by Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath or his tenant Adam de Phepoe and was subsequently held by the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar were suppressed in 1308, at which time the castle went to the Knights Hospitaller.
When Henry VIII disbanded monasteries between 1536 and 1541 (known as the Dissolution of the Monasteries) the castle was surrendered to the Crown.
Henry’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, granted the estate to her Secretary of State for Ireland in 1600. It then descended, through marriage, to the King Family. During the Irish Rebellion of 1641, George King of Clontarf took part and consequently had his lands confiscated.
Oliver Cromwell and the Vernon Family
After Oliver Cromwell invaded Ireland for the English Parliament in 1649, the estate was given to Captain John Blackwell who eventually sold his interest to John Vernon – Cromwell’s Quartermaster General. The Vernon family retained the castle for 300 years.
Edward Kingston Vernon was the last in the direct male line of the Vernons at Clontarf. He succeeded to the estate in 1913 but only lived there for six months before renting it to John Oulton (who was married to his niece). The Oultons purchased the castle 1933. Eventually Desmond Oulton, who inherited the estate in 1952, sold the property to pay death duties and other expenses.
A New Life
For five years the castle remained empty before being bought and sold several times and subsequently operated as a popular cabaret venue between 1972 and 1998. The castle was re-opened to the public as a four-star hotel in 1997.
The composer Handel frequently visited the castle during his stay in Dublin for the premiere of Messiah in 1742. Apparently Handel was captivated by the lady of the house – Dorothy “Dolly” Vernon. So much so that he eventually composed Forest Music in her honour.
On their 1971 debut album, Thin Lizzy refer to the castle in the song “The Friendly Ranger at Clontarf Castle”.
What’s it Rated?
4 stars of historic indulgence
Get Me There Now!
20 minutes from Dublin Airport
The Castle was voted #8 in the Top Hotels of Ireland in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards
Rooms at Clontarf Castle
Sophisticated, beautiful bedrooms with all the amenities you’d expect in a luxury hotel. Rooms are individually decorated and range all the way up to suites that feature four poster beds and sensational views.
All rooms offer:
55” Interactive TV Systems
Pillow top mattresses
HD IP Telephone system with direct dial access
Complimentary 100 Mb Wi-Fi
Complimentary mineral water and tea / coffee making facilities
Individually controlled air conditioning and climate control
24 hour room service
Splendidly stocked mini bar
Tea and coffee making facilities
- Boutique décor that ranges from country heritage to contemporary
- Décor inspired by delicate tones and fabrics
- Individual décor with luxury and glamour
- Some with antique four poster beds
- Some with views of the Dublin mountains
- Newly remodelled with luxurious touches such as four poster beds and hand-painted wallpapers
- Styles range from classic to contemporary
- Ultimate castle luxury (who wouldn’t want to stay in a room called the Viking Suite?)
Dining at Clontarf Castle
Whet your appetite with modern Irish cuisine featuring locally sourced ingredients. The Castle’s head chef, Stuart Heeney, has worked in some of the finest restaurants around the world.
- If you want to really feel like you’re in a castle, dine at the Fahrenheit Restaurant. Situated inside the original 12th century castle walls, you’ll be surrounded by stained glass windows, wooden beams and panelled walls. The menu is contemporary and the restaurant has been awarded with two AA Rosettes for culinary excellence.
- With its red chandeliers, sofa style seating and a chic vibe, the Indigo Lounge, creates a glamorous atmosphere. In summer you can also enjoy al fresco dining on the adjoining Terrace where ivy-draped castle walls provide the perfect backdrop for a glass of champers. Or two.
- For a traditional Irish Castle pub experience, step into the Knights Bar. The polished wooden floors, open fireplace and ornate pitched ceiling lend a touch of the medieval to your meal at this popular Dublin Gastropub. And as if that’s not enough, they offer an extensive craft beer menu which will likely require extensive taste testing on your part.
What else can I do here?
Location. Location. Location.
At Clontarf Castle you’ll be a mere 10 minute drive from downtown Dublin so there will be plenty to keep you busy.
If you’re an art lover be sure to pick up a copy of the Art Map at reception and take a stroll through the Castle’s carefully curated collection of paintings, photography and sculptures.
What about the kids?
The Castle gets a big tick of approval from the kids too, with family packages that include a Castle treasure hunt and a family trip to either Dublin Zoo or the Viking Splash Tour.