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Accommodation Spotlight: Lough Eske Castle

By Dawn Rainbolt
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Welcome to Donegal

County Donegal is nicknamed the “forgotten county” for a good reason – most visitors overlook this very northern and rural county of Ireland. Yet this desolately beautiful region has much to offer its visitors. County Donegal is home to some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs, Slieve League, and the most remote of Ireland’s national parks, Glenveagh. It has a rich heritage of rebellion and was the last holdout against British dominion of the island. For nature lovers, swathes of white sandy beaches line its shores. To the north, Lough Swilly is one of just three fjords in Ireland.

Right in the middle of the county, Lough Eske Castle provides a welcome respite from the wildness of Donegal. The hotel carefully balances the rugged with the cultivated, the historic with the modern. Lough Eske Castle is the perfect base for luxury travellers looking to get off the beaten path.

Learn more about Lough Eske Castle hotel, and why you should include it on your next itinerary, below.

Lough Eske Castle

Lough Eske Castle sits on a 900-acre estate abutting Lough Eske. A stunning Gothic facade hides a tasteful and surprisingly modern interior. Popular with international visitors and locals alike, the castle boasts a diverse clientele. Inside, dark mahogany stairs, lofty halls and glistening tiles welcome you. Cosy lounges and libraries, kept warm by roaring fires, make the perfect spot to relax with a good book.

Head to the well-stocked bar for local beers, such as Donegal’s famous brew, Kinnegar. There is also an extensive selection of delicious Irish whiskey and gins. In the evenings, guests will enjoy tapping their feet in time to the live music played by talented Donegal musicians. Or indulge their tastebuds at the two AA Rosette Cedars Restaurant. The menu here evokes traditional and contemporary elements using exquisitely fresh Irish ingredients.

The gleaming fitness centre offers a bright and cheerful place to work out. The spa beckons with a variety of treatments for those looking to kick back after their day of adventuring. Start the morning with a few relaxing laps in the glittering pool. Built in the footprint of a Victorian glasshouse, warm morning light streams through the windows.

Lough Eske Castle – Location

As the name hints, Lough Eske Castle sits on the shore of Lough Eske. Nestled in quiet countryside tranquillity, it’s just a short drive from Donegal town. Proximity to both city and remote country means visitors to the castle can enjoy a bit of everything. Lough Eske is about one hour by vehicle north of Sligo and one hour south of Derry. The Slieve League cliffs are also just an hour’s drive away.

Lough Eske Castle is the ideal spot to spend a few nights in the north of the country before heading to the busier counties of Galway or Clare.

Lough Eske Services

2AA Rosette Restaurant

The Cedars Restaurant offers a magical dining experience. Enjoy an exquisite meal amidst bright floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto an expansive terrace. With menus bursting with local ingredients, enjoy a culinary experience that will wow in the wilds of Ireland. Reservations required.

Gallery Bar

Whether you’re looking for a pre-dinner cocktail, live evening entertainment paired with a pint, or a quick and hearty dinner, the Gallery Bar is a great option. Ask staff for local drink recommendations. If you’re a beer lover, we recommend the Donegal beer, Kinnegar. If whiskey is your drink, it’s hard to go wrong with Bushmills, which is distilled just over the border in Northern Ireland.

CARA Organic Beauty Spa Treatments

Many spa treatments are available at this 5 star spa resort experience. Restore mind, body and soul in one of the seven treatment rooms, including two couples rooms. Here, various spa rituals, from facials to full body massages, are available. Or, enjoy the thermal suite, which includes a sauna, aromatic steam room, hydrotherapy pool, ice fountain and more.

Pool & Thermal Suite

Imagine waking up on a crisp, cool morning, warming sunlight streaming in through your window. Cross the sculpture-dotted courtyard to the spa for an early morning swim in the glass-domed pool. Built within a converted Victorian glasshouse, natural light brightens the waters of the aqua-green and gold mosaics. The experience is both magical and relaxing.

On Site Activities

Fishing on Lough Eske

Fishing, or angling as it’s called here, is a popular pastime in Ireland. It’s no surprise, given that Ireland is a small island on the edge of the Atlantic with hundreds of lakes, ponds and tarns. Lough Eske offers some excellent salmon, char, and trout fishing. Guided expeditions run from April to September.

Castle Tours

Lough Eske Castle is a historic building. If only walls could talk, imagine the stories they’d tell. In lieu of anthropomorphic walls, the castle guides do the talking, offering tours every day at 11 am. Stories include introducing guests to the famous O’Donnell, who built the first castle on site in the 1400s.

Biking on the Estate

Explore the estate on two wheels. Whether you prefer to go on your own or have your guide join you, biking around Lough Eske can be an enjoyable introduction to the wilds of Donegal.

Spa Treatments

Booking one of the many available spa treatments at CARA Organic Spa is the ideal indulgence on any holiday to Ireland.

Getting There

Lough Eske Castle is located in County Donegal, about 1 hour south of Derry and 1 hour north of Sligo. It is also in the vicinity of the towering Slieve League Cliffs. While there is a small airport in Derry, most visitors to the castle and region arrive in Ireland via Belfast or Dublin airports as part of a longer trip.

A stay at Lough Eske Castle is a great addition to any luxury itinerary. It is the perfect location for those travelling from Northern Ireland south towards Connemara and Mayo.

Meet the Author: Dawn Rainbolt

American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Poland, France and now Ireland home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich Irish culture, intriguing history, ancient castles, cheery locals and sweeping landscapes of Ireland.

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