One of the UK’s leading travel websites has praised a hidden gem in Galway, calling the hotel ‘a must-see’ for exploring Connemara.
The UK’s Independent named Ballynahinch Castle as the best in Galway in its list of top hotels in Ireland in 2023, the castle was praised for its fairytale setting.
Speaking to Extra.ie, General Manager Enda Walsh said: “We’re really excited to be included in this list by The Independent. It’s great to be recognized for our great looks. Even though we see this place every day, we never get tired of it!’
The hotel is located in the Recess and is steeped in history – it was built by Donal O’Flaherty, husband of the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley in 1546, and The Martins took over the O’Flaherty estate in 1590.
The Martins owned the house, with an additional guest house, until 1870 when Richard Berridge bought it, followed by His Highness the Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanager (also known as the Ranji Prince of Cricketers) who bought it in 1923 and remained the owner until his death in 1946. The Irish Tourism Board bought it from private owners in 19529.
Over the years, the hotel has seen many celebrities grace its halls, and apart from the aforementioned Prince of India, the likes of Daniel O’Connell, Eamon de Valera and US President Gerald Ford have all stayed there.
The Independent’s write-up on Ballynahinch Castle said: ‘Connemara is one of Ireland’s most awe-inspiring places, with blue hills, clear seas and rolling hills of heather and gorse. Amidst all this, you’ll find Ballynahinch Castle, a 19th-century residence that once belonged to His Highness the Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanager.
‘Inside, there’s a roaring fire where you can have a G&T, and the restaurant is run by one of Ireland’s best chefs, Danni Barry. There are winding roads throughout (with wax jackets and Wellies you can hire in the boot room), where you can experience the local sights.
‘But, really, it’s the view of the building itself that has to be beaten – it’s best seen from the road down Owenmore River, where the building is clearly reflected in the calm water with a dozen Bens riding behind it.’
Another nearby hotel also made the list of the best hotels to stay in Ireland, with Ashford Castle in Cong, Co Mayo, named the ‘best hotel for couples’.