Posted by: mdmusingsie | September 17, 2012

Castle Stay

Spending the night in a castle can be one of the highlights of any trip to Ireland. There are plenty to choose from and they span the entire range from authentic to contrived. They also range in price from not much more than a standard hotel up to the five-star (the latter is not in my budget). I have stayed at a handful over the years and some may sport a castle facade but look like any other hotel on the inside, while others maintain at least some of the grandeur on both sides of the entry.

My most recent stay took me to Markree Castle just outside of Sligo. My mother wanted to stay at a castle so I did some searching and we decided on this one. I considered Belleek Castle, as I’d stayed there a few years back and it was the absolute best castle experience I’ve had; however, I wanted to try another to add to my repertoire.

Markree fits the bill when it comes to an amazing structure with plenty of architectural detail to admire on the outside. Originally built in the 14th century, it has been expanded and renovated over the centuries. Despite the changes, much of the character is carried inside as well with the grand entry staircase, ground floor reception, salons, staircase to the first floor and dining rooms maintaining plenty of old world charm.

Unlike many castles which have changed hands numerous times over the years, this one has been in the same family since the 1600’s.

Our room was on the second or top floor (the entry floor is called the base or car park, with reception one floor up on the ground floor). The bay window looked out over a beautiful manicured garden with the river Unsin just beyond. The room isn’t totally modern nor is it entirely ancient, but I’m not sure I’d want to sleep in a true drafty, cold medieval bedroom. From the website and brochure, some rooms contain four poster beds which would add to the ambiance – likely the deluxe rooms that run a bit more. One of the most unique features of this particular room was the bathroom. While the fixtures themselves where modern, the en-suite bathroom was reached by going down a half dozen stairs. Certainly not a feature I’ve seen before, but it added to the charm of the place.

We chose the full package, dinner, room, and breakfast, and the food was first rate. Like Belleek Castle, it would be the perfect place for a wedding, and as we were sitting in the bar enjoying a Bailey’s, a couple was talking to the manager about arrangements for their special day.

It turned out to be the perfect choice for our stay and I would definitely recommend it to anyone seeking a wonderful castle experience.

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