Left and right well-manicured lawns here and there topped with flags the greens of the 18 hole course. The bus swirled through woods, around the private lake to reveal atop a hill the silhouette of Dromoland castle.
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Five hundred years ago a tower house stood here, ownership changes and numerous expansions had by 1835 turned into today’s castle. Transitions were perhaps not always smooth as the name supposedly means the "Hill of Litigation". No signs thereof this day as we arrived to the tunes of a bagpipe. To me it looked like Dreamland.
The contrast could not have been greater as we literally had come out of a hole in the ground at Doolin cave an hour earlier to arrive for the night at this five star palace. A uniformed line of staff welcomed as if we were royalty, despite a distinct lack of blue blood I felt like a king. With a glass of champagne in hand we were introduced to a long legged brunette, who took flight as we approached. The falconer of the Dromoland School of Falconry offered anyone inclined to grab a glove. There was no hesitation to try and a piece of meat was placed on top of a leather clad clenched fist. Within seconds the Harris Hawk swept down towards the ground only to swoop up and land on padded glove. With a wingspan of 4 ft it was remarkably lightweight as it landed on my outstretched arm and indulged in the meat treat.
Pot of Gold
A shower later a peak out the door added another surprise. The gray skies had turned light blue and the tower bathed in a golden hue as the Irish flag flapped in the evening breeze. Arching it all was a perfect rainbow, and I was standing in the pot of gold. As the colors bleached into the darkening sky the warm lights and a crackling fire invited us into the parlor.
With a Dingle Single Malt in-hand and good conversation amongst friends, life was top. Being a five star establishment no questions were asked but silently a jacket appeared before entering the dining room. Under crystal chandeliers course after course of perfectly prepared food was digested to the calming sounds of live harp music. It then made perfect sense that the likes of Bill Clinton, Juan Carlos I of Spain, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Richard Branson, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Cash, Michael Flatley, Bono and John Travolta all have spent time at Dromoland. None of them surely came alone. However the largest entourage probably belonged to the visit of US president W Bush who in 2004 arrived with about 7000 security personnel for a 16 hr visit during an EU-US meet.
On our last evening a nightcap was in order. Sad that the two nights had come to an end I opted for a “Writers tears” out of the bar’s extensive whiskey selection. As we were the last guests of the evening Frank behind the bar descretely wiped the counter, locked the whiskey cabinet and quietly counted the till. Then as we broke up he sent us to bed with an incredible Cole Porter lullaby. As I put my head on the pillow I enjoyed another night in a Dreamland fit for a king.
VR360 - Dromoland Castle Hotel
Take a self guided around (parts of) Dromoland Castle Hotel. A new window will open withteh tour at our sister site 36noll.com
A two nights stay was provided by Dromoland Castle as a part of a FAM trip arranged by Failte Ireland