Connemara Mountains, County Galway, Ireland
Ballynahinch Castle is 41 miles west of Galway between Roundstone and Recess. It is set in 450 acres of private woodland overlooking the Twelve Bens mountain range and the river Ballynahinch.
The appearance is more that of a crenellated Victorian mansion than a traditional castle.
Made from honey colored stone it has 3 floors in the main building with the wings being only one or two floors. It is set in terraced gardens overlooking the river where fishing piers and the huts built in the 1920’s and can still be seen today.
Since 1946, Ballynahinch Castle has been used as a four star hotel offering salmon fishing, cycling, walking and game shooting. The hotel has 40 rooms, half in the older part of the castle with the more luxurious and superior rooms being situated in the two riverside wings.
Its main Owenmore Restaurant serves seasonal Irish food and there is also the Fisherman’s Pub offering less formal meals. The specialties of both these restaurants being freshly caught fish from the river below.
The castle built in the 1750’s was originally home to the ‘ferocious’ O’Flaherty clan who lived there until the end of the century. One of the notable residents was the wife of clan member Donal O’Flaherty, Grace O’Malley also known as Pirate Grace as she was a pirate on the high seas. When her husband murdered by a rival clan she took over as the head of the O’Flaherty family a great honor for a woman.
In 1590 the ancestors of Richard Martin also known as ‘Humanity Dick’, the founder of the RSPCA took over the castle and it was re-built in the 1700’s to be used as an Inn.
Prince Ranjitsinhji Maharajah of Nawanager stayed at the castle in 1924 as guests of the Berridge family who then owned the estate. He fell in love with the area, castle and the fishing so much that he decided to buy the castle and return once a year until his death in 1932.
One of the castles residents Grace O’Malley was the subject of the film ‘The Pirate Queen’ and also a book by Anne Chambers published in 2003 called Ireland’s Pirate Queen.
Other Castles in the Area
Oliver Cromwell's Fort, County Galway