Thursday, 7 July 2016

Ashford Castle

THE BARON ARDILAUN WAS A MAJOR LANDOWNER IN COUNTY GALWAY, WITH 27,111 ACRES 
The family of GUINNESS claims descent from the ancient and eminent house of MAGENNIS, in which formerly vested the viscountcy of Magennis of Iveagh. Several members of this family are interred in the churchyard of St Catherine's, Dublin, and, in the parish register, the translation of the name from Magennis to McGuinness, or Guinness, is clearly traceable. 
ART ROE or ARTHUR MacGUINNESS, of Rathfriland, County Down, received the honour of knighthood, and assumed the surname of MAGENNIS.

This Sir Arthur was, in 1623, created Viscount Iveagh; though that peerage expired in 1693.

He died in 1629, and was buried at Drumballyroney, near Rathfriland, County Down.

His younger son,

CON MAGENNIS, married and had issue,

HUGH MAGENNIS, who wedded and had,

EVER MAGENNIS, who removed to, and settled in, Dublin.

He married and had issue, 

RICHARD GUINNESS (c1690-1766), of Celbridge, County Kildare, said to be an innkeeper at Celbridge, who was the first of the family to assume the surname.

In 1746, Mr Guinness was described in a Bill in Equity Exchequer as "Richard Guinis, agent or receiver to the Most Rev Arthur Price, Archbishop of Cashel".

He married firstly, Elizabeth, daughter of William Read, of Huttonread, County Kildare, and had issue,
Richard;
ARTHUR, of whom we treat;
Samuel;
Benjamin;
Frances; Elizabeth.
Mr Guinness wedded secondly, ca 1752, Elizabeth Clare.

His second son,

ARTHUR GUINNESS (1725-1803), of Beaumont, County Dublin, the first of the family that established the Guinness Brewery, in Dublin.

He espoused, in 1761, Olivia, daughter and co-heir of William Whitmore, of Dublin, and had issue,

ARTHUR GUINNESS JP DL (1768-1855)of Beaumont, County Dublin, held for many years the foremost place amongst the merchants of his native city of Dublin.

He married, in 1793, Anne, eldest daughter and co-heiress of Benjamin Lee, of Merrion, County Dublin.
By this marriage Lord Ardilaun is descended, through the noble houses of Strafford, Percy and Mortimer, from EDWARD III. The pedigree is fully registered in Ulster king-of-arms' office.
Mr Guinness's only surviving son,

BENJAMIN LEE GUINNESS JP DL MP (1798-1868), one of the ecclesiastical commissioners of Ireland, was created a baronet in 1867.
At his own cost of £150,000 (£15,445,000 in 2014) he restored the venerable cathedral of St Patrick, which was almost in ruins. In commemoration of this patriotic act, Queen Victoria granted to the baronet and his successors the right to bear supporters.
Sir Benjamin died in 1868 and was succeeded by his eldest son, 

SIR ARTHUR EDWARD GUINNESS (1840-1915), 2nd Baronet, JP, DL, MP for the city of Dublin, 1868. 

Sir Arthur was elevated to the peerage, in 1880, as BARON ARDILAUN, of Ashford, County Galway.

He married, in 1871, the Lady Olivia Charlotte White, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Bantry.

The barony became extinct following his lordship's death in 1915, though the baronetcy devolved upon his nephew, Algernon.


ASHFORD CASTLE, County Galway, is a medieval castle turned luxury hotel near Cong on the Mayo/Galway border, on the shore of Lough Corrib.

The original castle built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman House of Burke following their defeat of the O'Connors, the Royal House of Connaught, who are still extant in the person of the O'Conor Don.

The principal legacy of the native O'Connors is to be seen at the gates of the estate in the form of the Romanesque Augustinian Abbey of Cong.


After more than three and a half centuries under the de Burgos, whose surname became Burke or Bourke, Ashford passed into the hands of a new master, following a fierce battle between the forces of the de Burgo's and those of the English official Sir Richard Bingham, Lord President of Connaught, when a truce was agreed.

In 1589, the castle fell to Bingham, who added a fortified enclave within its precincts.

In 1715, the estate of Ashford was established by the Browne Family (Barons Oranmore), and a lodge in the style of a 17th-century French chateau was added to the medieval splendour of the castle.

The Ashford estate was purchased in 1852 by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, 1st Baronet, who extended the estate to 26,000 acres, built new roads, planted thousands of trees and added two large Victorian style extensions.

On his death in 1868, the estate passed to his son Lord Ardilaun, an avid gardener who oversaw the development of massive woodlands and rebuilt the entire west wing of the castle.

He also subsidised the operation of several steamboats, the most notable of which was the Lady Eglinton, which plied between the villages of the Upper Lough Corrib region and Galway City, thus opening the area to increased commerce.

In a time of agitation by tenant farmers in the Land Wars of the late 19th century, epitomised by the action of tenants at nearby Lough Mask House (home of Captain Charles Boycott), he was considered by many to be an 'improving' landlord.

Some of his efforts were unsuccessful, particularly the Cong Canal, also known as 'the Dry Canal', which was built to link Lough Mask and Lough Corrib but was a failure, due to its inability to hold water.

Despite such setbacks, the love borne by him and his wife Olive, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Bantry, for the castle and the estate was deep and best epitomised by that fact that when he was ennobled in 1880 he derived his title from the island of Ardilaun, which formed part of the estate on Lough Corrib.

Ashford passed to Lord Ardilaun's nephew, Ernest Guinness, who sold it to Noel Huggard in 1939.

He opened the estate as a hotel, which became renowned for the provision of its country pursuits, such as angling and shooting.

Noel Huggard's parents had been in the hotel business in Waterville, Co Kerry since 1910 and his granddaughters, Louise and Paula, run the Butler Arms Hotel there to this day.

In 1951, the film director John Ford came to the west of Ireland to film what would become a movie classic The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.

The grounds of Ashford Castle as well as nearby Cong formed the backdrop for much of the action in the film.

In 1970, Ashford Castle was bought by John Mulcahy, who oversaw its complete restoration and expansion, doubling its size with the addition of a new wing in the early 1970s, building a golf course and developing the grounds and gardens.


In 1985, a group of Irish American investors, which included Chuck Feeney, purchased Ashford.

The Castle was sold by these investors in 2007 for €50 million to Galway-based property investor Gerry Barrett and his family.

Ashford was financed by Bank Of Scotland (Ireland), who placed the property in receivership in November 2011, though the hotel continues as a going concern.

In its time the castle has played host to many notable guests, including: John Lennon, George Harrison, King George V, his consort Queen Mary, Oscar Wilde (whose father, Sir William Wilde, had an estate adjacent to Ashford, where the writer spent much of his childhood), HRH The Earl of Wessex, John Wayne, HSH The Prince Rainier III of Monaco and his consort, HSH The Princess Grace.

Former seats ~ Ashford Castle, near Cong, County Galway; Macroom Castle, County Cork; St Anne's, near Clontarf, County Dublin; Muckross, Killarney, County Kerry. 

10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London

Former town house ~ 11 Carlton House Terrace, London: Gladstone took up occupation in 1856, and was there during the early years of his first great ministry, 1868-74; and finally the Guinness family took over, staying on until the 1920s (with an interruption when the house became an annexe to the Horse Guards' high command).

First published in June, 2012.

2 comments :

bryan somers said...

I believe Ashford has been bought from receivership very recently by a lady millionaire - american - who runs a group of fine hotels around the world. It is undergoing much needed cleaning and updating

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe the Castle is now owned by the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, headed by Bea Tollman (she and her family are well worth a 'google'...), and has undergone a much needed overhaul, including the addition of new spa facilities. I have visited Ashford Castle and Cong many times over the years and the aesthetics of the castle and its interiors do not appeal to me in the least. However, they do quite a good afternoon tea (a reservation is required; it is, I have found, possible to obtain one at quite short notice) and the gardens are splendid and, at this time of year, very popular with our American cousins, as is the hotel itself (when I last visited, the grounds and castle were off-limits as an American couple had booked the castle for exclusive use for a four-day wedding party). The Lodge, formerly known as Lisloughrey Lodge, is now under the ownership of the Red Carnation group and offers comfortable and more affordable accommodation for those wishing to experience the estate but not prepared to pay the sometimes exorbitant cost of staying in the castle itself. The Lodge has a tenuous connection to Oscar Wilde as has a restaurant named in his honour...