This property is part of our Historic Hotels series, which features Harper hotels and resorts that began as private homes to the world’s famous—industry pioneers, authors, real estate magnates and, yes, even a dictator.
Echoing across the ancient woodlands and widespread waters surrounding Ashford Castle are countless legends and family histories of western Ireland. Parts of the castle date back to 1228, when the de Burgo family claimed it as their stronghold, but it would be more than six centuries and numerous proprietors later that its most notable resident—Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness (of the brewery fame)—took up residence. Guinness and his son, Lord Ardilaun, expanded the estate to 26,000 acres, extended and rebuilt portions of the castle, and planted thousands of trees throughout the property’s undulating forests. It remained in the possession of the Guinness family until 1939, when it was sold and turned into a luxury hotel. Over the years, royals and celebrities from King George V and President Ronald Reagan to Oscar Wilde and Fred Astaire have passed through the halls. John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara also stayed at the castle while filming The Quiet Man in nearby Connemara.