With backdrops for wedding photographs that are second to none, venues along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way are becoming more and more popular with couples tying the knot. Stephen Boylan and Conor Wilson visit some of the most spectacular venues on the route.
Killadangan House, Mayo
Erected in the 1850s as a grand estate house for the land agent of George Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan (1800 – 1888), Killadangan house is a Georgian style building sitting beneath the magnificent Croagh Patrick, with spectacular panoramic views stretching from Clew Bay to Mulranny, to Achill and Clare Island beyond.
A brand new venue to the weddings market, this elegant property offers oodles of history and has benefitted from meticulous and tasteful refurbishment over the last five years by its present owner. In keeping with period and style of the house, all rooms are customizsed with original fireplaces, furniture, paintings and carpets.
Killadangan House is the perfect venue for small intimate weddings of 14 to 26 people, and its owners want to welcome their first same sex wedding in 2017 by giving the first five couples who book their wedding there one nights bed breakfast and dinner at the luxurious Clare Island Lighthouse (worth €500), which is a Wild Atlantic Way must. They can use this within the year to celebrate their anniversary or to use on honeymoon, or for whatever occasion they want.
Killadangan House, (outside) Westport, Co. Mayo, www.killadanganhouse.com, 087 165 0570, email [email protected] Killadangan House is a sister project of Clare Island Lighthhouse, www.cilh.com
Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara
There’s something about the light in Ballynahinch. As you wander downstream on the estate’s Riverside Walk, you turn a corner from the abandoned old Station house, and suddenly there’s Ben Lettery, standing majestically in the early evening light, the sun picking out every variation and colour of the mountain’s grasses and quartzes. The view is breathtaking and unmistakably Irish, like everything in this historic place, and makes a backdrop for some truly magnificent wedding photographs.
Located along the Wild Atlantic Way, Ballynahinch Castle was built in 1756 on 200,000 acres, making it one of the largest estates in Ireland and the British Isles at the time. Now settled on a more modest 450 acres near the town of Recess in Connemara, about 13km from Clifden, the Castle has been transformed into a beautifully labyrinthine four-star hotel with 48 guest rooms. All perfectly appointed, a number of the superior rooms border the lake.
The hotel is a perfectly blended mix of the classical and the modern. The cosy Fisherman’s Pub, replete with portraits of Prince Ranjitsinhji, Maharajah of Nawanager, who bought the Castle after visiting in 1924, is where your guest will enjoy a drink before the reception. The castle has rightly developed a name as one of Ireland’s premier food destinations. In the aforementioned Fisherman’s Pub, lunch is the freshest crabmeat, chowder with homemade brown bread, spiced meats, rich salads, beef, mackerel, and roe. The Owenmore Restaurant, with views down the river, takes centre stage. In contrast to the homely, carpeted main body of the estate, the Owenmore is the more modern side of the hotel, with dark, wood-panelling creating a soft and intimate atmosphere.
Unfortunately, because of the Castle’s enormous popularity, it’s not possible to have your wedding there during the summer months, but winter there is especially cosy, so if you’re planning out of the peak months, it’s the perfect answer. A weekend wedding requires all the hotel’s 48 bedrooms to be taken exclusively by the wedding party for a minimum of two nights. A midweek wedding, Sunday to Thursday inclusive, requires only a minimum one night exclusive rental of all 48 hotel bedrooms.
Because of Ballynahinch Castle’s uniquely welcoming but unpretentious atmosphere, weddings there echo great Big House parties of times gone by. It’s almost like having your very own castle for a weekend of fun and celebration.
If you’re not getting married, Ballynahinch is the perfect autumnal escape to celebrate a birthday, honeymoon, or anniversary, without the hassle of hopping on a plane. It’s a truly special hotel in a very special corner of Ireland.
Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ballinafad, Recess, Connemara, Co. Galway, www.ballynahinch-castle.com, (095) 31006
Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, Clonakility
Just outside the pretty heritage town of Clonakilty in West Cork, overlooking two pristine stretches of Blue Flag beach, sits Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, one of Ireland’s most romantic and picturesque locations on the Wild Atlantic Way.
The Lodge itself is modern but cosy – the enormous glass frontage gives spectacular views of the crashing waves and turbulent skies, but inside remains pleasantly snug thanks to the roaring fires and reassuring wood-paneled decor.
If you’re planning a wonderful winter wedding, the Inchydoney Suite with its backdrop of stunning coastal views, will make for an unforgettable experience. If you’re opting for a Spring or Summer affair and want to feel the sea breeze on your face as you exchange your vows, then you can venture outside and treat your guests to a seaside ceremony in Inchydoney’s custom-built beachside amphitheater. With its panoramic views of the sea, and the soundtrack of waves lapping the shore, this is a wedding venue of unrivaled natural beauty. The hotel itself caters for both intimate and larger wedding groups, and can accommodate up to 300 guests.
One of the most important aspects of a wedding is the food. No need to worry here as award-winning Head Chef Adam Medcalf’s exquisite food is made from the best of local, seasonal ingredients, adding extra gold stars for sustainability, freshness and flavour.
Why not have a pre-wedding pamper for yourself in the Island Spa? Either you and your partner, or you and a member of your wedding party can indulge yourselves with Time for Two Spa Ritual with Rasul Retreat which incorporates Muscle Melt Massage and an Anti-Ageing Elemis Facial, perfect to relieve any pre-wedding tensions!
There are an abundance of activities for your guests to enjoy the day before, and after, your wedding. Not only do guests benefit from discounted room rates they can also avail of unlimited use of the sea-water pool, sauna, steam-room, gymnasium and relaxation areas.
The tropical thalassotherapy pool pumps in water directly from the Atlantic and heats it up to a gorgeous 31 degrees. If Club Tropicana isn’t exciting enough for your guests, you can always try a spot of surfing, horse riding or even whale watching. You might not even have to wait until your honeymoon to spy Moby Dick off the starboard bow!
Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, Clonakilty, Co. Cork, www.inchydoneyisland.com, Ireland, (023) 883 3143
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