This stunning castle is the birthplace of a Tasmanian convict

No journey to Ireland is total without a see to a castle. In a location with a struggling history, each Irish castle – and there are numerous them – has its own story to inform: stories of dispute, of resistance, or survival. At durations in Irish history, they were monoliths to dispossession and intrusion.

These days, Ireland’s castles are cherished landmarks of a history with which most Irish individuals are fixed up. They are monoliths, as poet James Bird composed, “of strength superb”, giants “making fun of the risks of time”.

Ireland’s Dromoland Castle and its expansive grounds.

Ireland’s Dromoland Castle and its extensive premises. Credit: Tourism Ireland

One such magnificent castle, Dromoland – very first built about 1500 – is likewise the beginning point for an amazing story which offers a special historic connection in between Ireland and Australia.

Located in Clare, a 15- minute drive from the county town of Ennis and an hour from the UNESCO World Heritage noted Cliffs Of Moher in Ireland’s south west, it’s now a sensational luxury hotel which has actually invited everybody from Nelson Mandela to The Beatles and Bill and Hillary Clinton into its extravagant spaces.

It’s likewise the birth place of a not likely Irish rebel, who was transferred to Tasmania in the mid-19 th century.

Protestant aristocrat William Smith O’Brien (born 1803) did not fit the stereotype for a defiant Irishman. Born into wealth and opportunity, Smith O’Brien delighted in a classical English education at Harrow and Trinity College Cambridge.

But according to regional historian and remote relative Jane O’Brien, the young William ended up being anxious about the predicament of the regional individuals in County Clare.

” During his youth he had actually seen his mom’s humanitarian endeavours to enhance the lives of the bad. She had actually developed a needlework school to train ladies from the regional town,” O’Brien states.

Inside the so-called “Rebel’s Castle” which has an Australian link.

Inside the so-called “Rebel’s Castle” which has an Australian link.

It was to end up being a fixation that would motivate a disobedience and eventually assisted to conserve Dromoland Castle itself from damage.

Smith O’Brien ended up being an MP in his mid-20 s, being in your house Of Commons, and grew significantly disillusioned about the absence of interest in Irish affairs amongst parliamentarians in Westminster.

He ended up being a thorn in the side of the British federal government, blocking parliamentary service with long speeches which highlighted the troubles of regular Irish folk and was ultimately put behind bars for contempt. Upon his release he was hailed a hero back in Ireland.

Meanwhile the potato starvation, which started in earnest in 1845, fomented a blossoming desire for disobedience. Smith O’Brien ended up being significantly militant.

He ended up being leader of the rebel Young Ireland motion and assisted outline a disobedience which happened in July1848 The uprising was a failure– enduring simply 3 days– however its ripples pertained to alter Irish history. Smith O’Brien was jailed, charged and founded guilty for high treason. He was sentenced to death, however this was later on travelled to deportation to Van Diemen’s Land after a public protest in Ireland.

O’Brien and his primary lieutenants cruised in the Swift to Hobart Town, where they showed up on October 27, 1849.

Incarcerated at first at Maria Island he was ultimately moved to Port Arthur, where he was permitted to reside in his own home. The structure, which still bears his name, can be checked out as part of a trip to Port Arthur.

A guest room at the castle.

A visitor space at the castle.

Smith O’Brien was ultimately pardoned and gone back to Ireland. A statue of him bases on O’Connell Street in main Dublin. He passed away in 1864.

According to Jane O’Brien, his tradition assisted to make sure that the location of his birth made it through nationalist turmoil and the desire to damage icons of Anglo opportunity.

” [It] would have affected the fortunes of Dromoland Castle when other terrific homes around Ireland were being burned throughout the advanced duration of the 20 th century,” she states.


As you go into the castle’s magnificently maintained stone and wood lobby today, a bronze plaque honors the structure’s most popular resident.

These days, the castle provides among Ireland’s finest heritage stays: believe Downton Abbey with an Irish accent.

All the spaces have actually been reconditioned with bespoke furnishings and fittings which use high-end and animal conveniences. Lodging varieties from the 30- square-metre Queen Anne entry-level spaces to the delicious Brian Boru suite, called after the as soon as high king of Ireland from whom the O’Briens of Dromoland are descendants. We remain in the Inchiquin Stateroom, a spectacular 46- square-metre area total with its own intimate seating and dining location. High-end materials and stylish home furnishings are matched by modern devices and awesome views over the lake and forests.

The castle hotel, quickly available from Dublin (2.5 hours through the M7 and M18), rests on 182 hectares of manicured premises that includes meandering forest strolls, a walled garden, tennis court, health spa, swimming pool and physical fitness centre. The 18- hole champion golf course (EUR70- EUR150 for 18 holes depending upon the season) now hosts the yearly Women’s Irish Open. To finish the Downton ambiance, visitors can register for a champagne picnic on the lake or an afternoon of clay pigeon shooting, archery or falconery.

Dining at Dromoland is thoroughly adjusted by veteran executive head chef David McCann to match the duration environments.

In the sensational Earl Of Thomond dining-room, silver service is the order of business. Under the look of extravagantly-framed pictures of O’Brien forefathers, you can delight in regional fare like Clare Island natural salmon, monkfish and sea scallops.

Or select meals like pheasant, bunny, wild duck and partridge, animals which might well have actually concerned sorrow from a hunter’s weapon. Therefore the menu alerts: please keep in mind some video game meals might include lead shot.

The bar at the luxury castle.

The bar at the high-end castle. Credit: Tourism Ireland

I pick the roast Black Angus fillet of beef with a Miso glazed brief rib, aubergine, carrot and garlic confit followed by Bailey’s chocolate mousse for dessert. Delicious.



Dromoland Castle hotel is available by roadway from Dublin Airport (2.5 hours through the M7 and M18), Shannon Airport (20 minutes by means of N17) or Cork Airport (2 hours through N20). Lodging varieties from the Queen Anne spaces (EUR495 – EUR700) to the Brian Boru suite (EUR2100 – EUR3250 a night). See


The Gallery is ideal for a light lunch, afternoon tea or early night casual bite. Attempt the Dromoland Castle Fish Pie with chosen wild fish and shellfish, leeks, peas and buttered mash (EUR25) or the Wild Atlantic Sharing Plate with Sextons crab claws, Kelly oysters, Burren smoked salmon and mackerel, prawns, calamari and clams (EUR43). The Earl Of Thomond provides great dining. Attempt the sustainable wild cod with chorizo remoulade, pink fir, shallot, kale and matlote sauce (EUR42) or the pot-roast guinea fowl, served with wild mushrooms, savoy cabbage, pearl onion, artichoke and truffle (EUR42).


Billy Cantwell remained at Dromoland Castle as a visitor of Tourism Ireland.

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