If historic houses, lovely gardens, or walks on the beach appeal to you, Cashel House is calling your name. When we pulled our rental car into the driveway, I had no idea that we would be stepping into a storybook. Actors and movie producers have come here seeking inspiration and they have been rewarded with sweet dreams and picture postcard memories. Located on Ireland’s west coast, Cashel House sits perched above Cashel Bay on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Cashel House has been owned and operated by the McEvilly family since 1968. The four star hotel was built in the 19th century and operates today as a country house manor. We were greeted by Kay McEvilly and her son, Frank. On a brief tour of some of the 30 room and suites, Kay shared that she was initially a reluctant innkeeper. “The hotel was my husband’s vision and his passion,” noted McEvilly. While unassuming, I can’t imagine Kay doing anything else other than running this historic inn. Unless, of course, she was tending to her secret garden.
The 50 acre estate in County Galway offers a peaceful respite in Connemara. Guests are welcome to sit by one of several fireplaces, enjoy a cocktail in the bar, or partake in afternoon tea in the conservatory overlooking the gardens. For those who like an active adventure holiday, the staff is able to arrange horseback riding by Ballyconneely Bay or a round of golf at nearby Connemara Golf Club.
For those who love an afternoon or morning stroll, head out to the 30 acres of gardens. Even better if Kay is available to show you around. She’ll be able to point out the tulip Magnolia, the 70 foot tall Ragged Robin, (typically these stand 4 feet tall) or the Iran Iron tree, one of several champion trees on the 200 acre property. Pass the creek and over to the Secret Garden if you want to be alone with your thoughts.
Our mini garden suite reminds me of a room that Julia Roberts would have loved when she played a woman scorned in the movie Pretty Woman. In fact, Julia has stayed at Cashel House, as have other actors such as Daniel Day Lewis, Sharon Stone and even movie producer Steven Spielberg. The house, like an old friend, is welcoming and comfortable; filled with antiques and plenty of framed pictures on its historic walls.
We used Cashel House as a home base for exploring nearby Kylemore Abbey and Ireland’s National Park. Enjoy the full Irish breakfast that is included in the price of your room. And when they say “full Irish” they mean it. Pigs are raised on the property, so ham at breakfast is typical and it was mighty tasty. I could eat the Irish breads for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, I did eat this homemade bread at every opportunity, something I sorely miss upon returning to the United States.
Dinner is optional at Cashel House, but make it mandatory when you stay here; especially if you enjoy Connemara rack of lamb or Irish beef. Of course, being so close to the lakes, rivers and Cashel Bay, fresh seafood is abundant as well. Meals are served on fine bone china with home baked biscuits and scones. The hotel offers summer, fall, winter and Golden Year breaks with special pricing and dinners included in some packages.
Room rates start at €80, plus tax, including bed and breakfast per person, per night. Check the website for current pricing. You can also compare rates at Hotels.com or Expedia. The Cashel House is a founding member of Ireland’s Blue Book.
Review by Nancy D. Brown, Bay Area Travel Writer and Connemara pony lover. I was a guest of Cashel House will exploring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. All photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown.