A history of Ashford Castle's most famous guests


We explore what makes Ashford Castle such an enticing retreat for some of the biggest names in history.


14th March 2019

Ashford Castle

A legendary historic estate, Ashford Castle has been hosting distinguished visitors for almost eight centuries. Originally an Anglo-Norman fortress primed for battle, it’s now a luxury hotel set in stunning rural surrounds, and has welcomed innumerable esteemed guests through the years. From English royalty to American presidents and Hollywood stars, here’s a brief history of Ashford Castle’s most illustrious residents.

Ashford Castle History

George V

When George V (then the Prince of Wales) came to stay at Ashford Castle in 1905, our prestigious Prince of Wales Bar was especially tailored for his arrival. He was invited to the estate for a shoot, and what transpired remains a popular anecdote in local circles. The prince shot the largest woodcock in the region—to this day—and he still holds the Guinness World Record for his achievement. All lustrous wood-panelled walls, twinkling Waterford Crystal chandeliers and a sumptuous fine-dining menu, our George V Dining Room pays due tribute to the royal visit.

US Senator Ted Kennedy

Throughout history, each of Ashford Castle’s proprietors has added their own distinctive touches. In 1715, the Browne family constructed a beautiful hunting lodge in the style of a French chateau, and Sir Benjamin Guinness added two grand Victorian-style wings around a century later. In the early 1980s, US Senator Ted Kennedy stayed in one of these extensions, in a beautiful stateroom overlooking Lough Corrib. The Kennedy Suite, with its coveted selection of antique furnishings, is named after its former resident.

President Ronald Reagan & Mrs Reagan

In 1984, another high-profile US politician followed suit. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy Reagan stayed at Ashford Castle on a two-night state visit. They stayed in some of the castle’s most sumptuous quarters, with a roaring fireplace, elegant antique portraiture and a stunning George III-style four poster bed. The Reagan Presidential Suite neighbours the Kennedy Suite, and the two can be combined to create a private three-bedroom wing. During his stay at Ashford Castle, the President received an honorary degree from the then University College, Galway.

Ashford Castle History

John Wayne

John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and the cast of Hollywood blockbuster The Quiet Man were hosted at Ashford Castle while filming in 1951. Directed by John Ford—his first ‘romantic love story’—the film received a total of seven Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars. One was for Best Cinematography and Ford won his fourth and final Best Director Oscar, a record that remains unbeaten. Many scenes were shot in and around Ashford Castle’s nearby village of Cong. Explore key attractions such as The Quiet Man Museum set in an exact replica of the ancient White O’Morn cottage and chase an excursion with a Guinness at Pat Cohan’s Bar, which also features in the film. Finally, return to the hotel and hole up in our luxurious cinema for a screening.

Ashford Castle History

From princes to presidents, Red Carnation Hotels’ Ashford Castle has hosted innumerable illustrious guests through the years, and treats every visitor as royalty.

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