About the Hotel
As children, we’ve all grown up listening to fantastical tales of magnificent castles in faraway lands and secretly wished we were there. Then reality reared its ugly head and we grew up. Those magnanimous castles shriveled up to multi-story apartments and the magic was lost somewhere in the office deadlines and ever piling work pressure. Well, time to revive that long forgotten dream!
Ireland is a land of rolling hills, wide green pastures dramatic coastal cliffs and enchanting forests, which melt even the coldest, most pragmatic hearts with its stunning beauty. Fascinated already? Read on to know more about Ballyseede Castle and the reasons why it should be on your bucket list:
BallyseedeCastle set in the heart of Kerry, Ireland, is the epitome of grandeur. A private haven of sorts, the castle is the ideal gateway for couples and solo travelers alike who want to escape every monotony of urban squalor. Here at Ballyseede, you will be swept away to the time of beautiful damsels, ferocious dragons, and frightening ghouls. For you see, no castle is complete without a touch of fantasy and adventure. Once every year, on March 24th, the ghost of Lady Hilda is said to tread the basement halls of this 16th-century castle. Don’t worry though; she is a believed to be a friendly, amiable ghost.
Ballyseede Castle is situated off the Tralee-Killarney (N21) road and is barely a few minutes’ drive from Tralee Town. The property stretches for about 30 acres, covering the nearby woodlands and rolling plains in its premise. Known for its relaxed, homely atmosphere, exquisite architecture and magical ambiance, the castle also hosts destination weddings, corporate meetings, and other events. Ballyseede Castle is a part of the Manor House Hotel (a collection of 30 luxury boutique hotels and castles scattered throughout Ireland) and has been awarded many accolades over the years including 2 AA Rosettes certifications.
Ballyseede castle has a long and dramatic history. The adjoining towns of Ballyseedy and Ballycarty were the seat of the Blennerhassett family from 1590 to 1967. The townships each contained castles belonging to the family of FitzGerald, Earl of Desmond. The family was later shunned as they refused to swear fealty to the crown of Elizabeth I and were involved in the Geraldine Wars over three centuries. The property was then granted to Robert Blennerhassett in 1584, the rent being a red rose presented every Midsummer’s Eve. The land stayed with the family until 1966 and is today transformed into a luxury four-star hotel.
The present Ballyseede house (aka Ballyseefe Castle Hotel as known since 1969) was built sometime during the 1780s by William Blennerhassett Sr. Back then, the castle was called the Elms Grove. The house has been rebuilt, renovated and enlarged twice since then, first in 1821 when the name Elms Grove was discarded and reverted to Ballyseede. The north wing and the banqueting hall was one among the many notable additions. The property was renovated again sometime in the 1880s adding several fancy and Victorian elements to the architecture. The last resident of the Ballyseede castle was Hilda Blennerhassett. After her death, the estate was sold out of the family in 1967 though it is said that the ghost of Lady Hilda still resides in the castle and roams the basement halls.
Ballyseede Castle is not your typical five-star resort, no sir! The state-of-art accommodation combines the best of history and architecture. The castle is set in the heart of Kerry, a land traditionally known as “the kingdom”, and overlooks the extreme southwest borders of Ireland. The high grey castle building features huge stone columns, forts, and windows- all reminiscent of the authentic Elizabethan architecture. The north wing and banqueting halls were added to the main building sometime during 1821 back then the house was officially named Ballyseede. It was only later in the 1880s that Arthur Blennerhassett commissioned a “mock castle” refurbishment of the house. The west-facing entrance and elevated front porch were rebuilt and shifted to the rear end of the property. Also, square towers with an unusual coat of arms were added to the east side of the north tower.
The original structure of the house was very different from what we see today. With the two major renovations, (especially the later one carried out by James Franklin Fuller), the estate lost its Georgian elegance and simplicity. The massive entrance, imposing architecture and impressive design of the building make it more of a grand castle and less of a house.
Ballyseede Castle stands on its own grounds at the end of a long carriage road, flanked by green lawns and woodlands on either side. When you make your way through Ballyseede Castle’s gates, you know you are entering a special world that is untouched by the chaos of civilization and steeped in the splendor of nostalgia. The exquisite architecture of the palace only paves the way for the stunning décor inside. The interiors are marked by beautiful chandeliers, long winding staircases, hardwood floorings and everything else you’d normally expect in a castle. The front hall is furnished in warm, earthy hues of golden, red and orange (a striking contrast with the external dreary grey walls).
Right from the time you enter the castle, till the time you leave its premises, you will be cocooned in luxury and warmth. Be prepared for a grand welcome by Mr. Higgins, the Irish wolfhound, and its rock-catcher friend Einstein. The entrance is via a long flight of stairs with two lion statues on either side. Once inside the lobby, you can notice the Doric columns and fine elegant oak joinery. The castle has 23 bedroom suites and can house about 56 people at once. Each of the rooms is tastefully decorated featuring beautiful drapes, wide windows, and a crackling cozy fireplace.
Castles, for all their elegance and sophistication, can be quite a fun experience. From lounging indoors and soaking up the royal treatment to taking a stroll in the nearby woodlands, Ballyseede Castle caters to all your whimsical dreams. Enjoy a cup of steaming hot afternoon tea at the Resident lounge or the Pembroke room. People who want to explore the hotel grounds can take the Dingle way or the North Kerry way and visit the nearby settlements. For those who want the true wild Atlantic experience, Ballyseede offers a wide assortment of water activities such as slides, canoeing, paddle boats, sea safaris, banana boat rides, and sea surfing.
Kerry with its green acres of rolling plains is also an ideal spot for hosting golf tournaments. The Ballyseede estate has loads of golf courses where you can practice. If you are more interested in art, pay a visit to Tralee. The neighboring township of Tralee is the headquarters for Ireland’s National Folk Theatre. At the Siamsa Tire, you can witness Irish drama, music, and folklore at its very best. Other activities such as horse riding, archery, shooting, and hunting are also popular here.
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Ballyseede castle does appear rather imposing and posh at a glance, but the relaxed, homely atmosphere of the place states otherwise. The 15th century three-storeyed stone building has witnessed quite a few remarkable centuries and is still standing proud and tall on the grounds of Kerry. Here are some interesting anecdotes and information about the hotel that would make your stay all the more memorable here:
- 16 more en-suite bedrooms are due to open in March 2018, make your reservations already!.
- Do check out Pappy’s bar, an open fire eating joint that serves the best beer.
- The in-house restaurant specialized in Continental and Irish cuisines, also it houses one of the finest wine cellars in the Kerry region.
- Golfers would love to participate in the championship tournaments like Ballybunion, Waterville, Dooks& Barrow.
- The hotel is situated along the Wild Atlantic Way and hence offers guests a wide array of water sports and ocean-related activities.
- Art lovers would love the unique carved oak chimneypiece and mantle (dating back to 1627) that resides in the Library bar.
- Free Wi-Fi and free parking space for guests.
- Pet-friendly and family-oriented hotel, the property is a non-smoking zone.
- The Ballyseede castle also hosts corporate events, weddings, ceremonies and other functions.
This holiday season chuck the sandy beaches and misty mountains! The stone castles of Ireland isolated from the din of cities offers you a magical escape into the pages of history. Here at Ballyseede castle, you can experience the best of old-world elegance and modern-day conveniences.