Ashford Castle is by far the most glamorous, extravagant and desired wedding venue in the West of Ireland. Set in the glorious, mythical countryside of County Mayo, this stunning venue is the setting of dreams for your big day, and it has proved popular with both royal and celebrity alike – including Piers Brosnan and Shane Filan.
This spectacular castle dates back to 1228, but has been a luxury hotel since 1915. There are two churches nestled within the grounds for religious ceremonies, and also a grand function room that holds a wedding license. A wealth of options lay before you here in terms of where you would like to host your reception, and all the rooms are decorated in classical style with hints of Gaelic heritage such as statues of legendary creatures, paintings of historical figures and odes to the fascinating history surrounding this area of the Emerald Isle.
The gardens here are something else. Looking out over a tranquil river dotted with green islands and rare wildlife, the terrace here is perfect for serving champagne and canapés. The intricately manicured lawn garden to the front of the castle provides a beautiful backdrop and setting for photos, and indoors, grand spacious ballrooms purpose-built for dinner dances come into their own when the sun goes down – as does the marquee overlooking the water.
County Mayo itself is astoundingly beautiful. If you’re returning to Ireland to marry, you will fully understand that once you fall in love with Mayo, you will return as often as you can and for the rest of your days. The land here is steeped in both troublesome and magical, joyful history, and you have one of the finest examples of a ruined abbey in the entire country just down the road, in a charming village named Cong. An enormous stretch of river lined with ancient trees runs through a ruin of an enormous 11th century monastery here, and the village attached is full of quintessentially Irish shops, pubs and cafés, as well as enchanting little river boat houses built by the monks to catch their supper (pictured – and yes, you can climb inside them). If your guests plan on staying for a few days before or after the wedding, a trip to Cong is a fantastic activity for all the family. You don’t have to pay to see the ruins and children can play freely, the village is inexpensive, and there are fantastic walking trails that make the most of the breath taking views over the Connemara National Park and the ocean. Also, it’s well worth taking the 50 mile or so trip up to the county’s main town, Westport, to soak up some lively nightlife, Irish music and contribute to the already thriving craic.
You absolutely must hire a car when going to this part of the world. Advise your guests (and you can trust my 26 years of annual experience on this one), that a ferry is definitely the way to go. It’s a good 4 hours drive from Dublin, but once you’re in Mayo, you’ll find very little by way of buses, trains and taxis. Ashford Castle itself is quite remote, and though it’s off what is considered to be a main road in Mayo, it will feel like the middle of nowhere to your average city-dweller. Sat Navs are essential, but for great beach fun, check out Old Head, which is on the way to Westport, and Silver Strand – a stunning mile-long beach that provides brilliant dolphin and seal spotting opportunities.
Once your guests arrive at Ashford Castle, however, they will never want to leave. The food is divine, the service exceeds even the already wonderful standard of the area, and the setting will quite literally take your breath away. The venue offers maximum flexibility in terms of indoor and outdoor space, and with the ever-changing weather, this is a huge advantage. The weather is best here in June and July, and you can expect around the same kind of sunshine levels as the West of the UK, although the breeze will be a little stiffer and if it does rain, you’d definitely get wetter if you were stuck outside.
This sought-after venue needs to be booked well in advance, and Function Fixers can pull strings others can’t – so get in touch today so see if we can bag you a bargain at this beautiful high-end venue.