Whether this is your first time to visit Ireland or you are a repeat visitor, a stay at Castle Grove Country House is a treat in so many ways. The stories start unfolding as soon as you set foot on the 300 year old property, as this country house has a long and distinguished history in the North West of Ireland. The main house was built by the Grove family in 1695 after being burned during the siege of 1690. Irish political activist Daniel O’Connell was hosted at Castle Grove, and General Richard Montgomery, a famous soldier in the 1774 American War of Independence, also spent time here. In 1989, the Sweeney family transformed the historic house into a luxury boutique hotel.
You’ll notice a huge bouquet of fresh flowers gracing the entrance once you step inside the house. Built in 1695 and situated at the end of a mile long road, flanked with trees and surrounded in farmland, the near-original Georgian house sits by the shores of Lake Swilly, or Lough Swilly as they refer to it in Ireland.
With 250 acres of grounds composed of farmland and extensive gardens designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown, Castle Grove is the place to be when it comes to Easter egg hunts. Our visit took place in March. We were fortunate to celebrate Mother’s Day, March 10, in County Donegal, along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, and it was fabulous! Everyone who walks through the front door is treated like a family member by the close-knit staff. In fact, you’ll find two of the Sweeney sisters working side-by-side, a nephew waiting tables and if you have a chance encounter with Mrs. Sweeney, matriarch of the Sweeney Family, be sure to ask about her farming background. As a fellow equestrian, and animal lover, we could have talked into the wee hours of the night.
The hotel itself has a grand entrance hall, two lovely drawing rooms, a beautiful dining room, library, cozy bar and 15 en-suite bedrooms. All rooms of this 4-star boutique hotel are furnished with antiques and luxurious fabrics, adding to the charm and old world grandeur of this old house. My husband and I stayed in the Jonathan Swift room which was large and welcoming. Had it been a different time period, we could have waltzed across our room.
Our four poster bed was something out of a storybook, but in actuality, this antique piece of furniture was found at a Clan clearance sale from a castle in the Scottish Highlands and brought to Castle Grove. Of course it was! Doesn’t everyone shop Clan sales?
After a day exploring Glenveagh National Park, the 19th century Glenveagh Castle, and Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, we returned to afternoon tea by the blazing fire. I realize I’m setting the scene, like a PBS television series called Downton Abbey, but truly, you have to experience Castle Grove and this spectacular scenery for yourself. You will not be disappointed. If I were a millionaire, I’d hire away their pastry chef and have clotted cream and jam on fresh baked scones every day.
If you get the idea that a trip to Ireland is all about eating and sightseeing, you’d be correct. Sunday lunch and evening meals in the award-winning restaurant at Castle Grove are all about the Donegal Food Coast. The food is locally sourced, with seasonal fruit and vegetables organically grown in Castle Grove’s 4 acre walled garden and prepared in-house by skilled chefs. Any of Ireland’s Blue Book manor houses along the Wild Atlantic Way are worth a stop.
“Myself and my partner met at this wonderful country house this weekend to meet up with friends from England. We felt like we were staying at some old relatives fabulous country residence and looked after as if we were part of the family. The house was perfectly positioned on the shores of Lough Swilly, allowing us to take amazing trips along the Wild Atlantic Way. Taking in some spectacular views along the way of the breathtaking coast. We would highly recommend this spot to stay,” Eamus Murray, County Donegal.
“We felt like we were staying at some old relatives fabulous country residence and looked after as if we were part of the family. The house was perfectly positioned on the shores of Lough Swilly, allowing us to take amazing trips along the Wild Atlantic Way.”
One of the unique concepts that my husband and I discovered in Ireland was the idea of reviewing the menu in the drawing room, giving the order to your host and then following them into the dining room. Such an efficient restaurant dining concept, with a high personal touch that would do well in America. I’ll come back to County Donegal for the food and horseback riding, while my husband can’t get enough golf time in Ireland.
Hotel room rates range from 110-200 euros low season, to 150-250 euros during high season. The Jonathan Swift room rents for 200 euros low season to 250 euros during high season. Check the website for special last minute offers www.castlegrove.com
Seasonal A ’La Carte Menus served nightly
Customized Prix Fix Menu for groups from 38E pp
4 course Sunday Lunch 25Epp
Afternoon Tea: 18E pp or 24E pp with Champagne
Breakfast is included in the accommodation rates and offers a wide selection of fresh locally sourced produce and is cooked to order and served to your table.
The breakfast menu includes a selection of juices, fresh fruits, cereals, fresh fish, eggs and full cooked breakfast.
Full cooked breakfast includes sausages, egg, bacon and tomato. White and Black Clonakilty pudding are also available on request.
Castle Grove can arrange seasonal shooting and fishing trips, horse-riding and golfing trips. Pricing depends on availability and group size, however, they have preferential rates with service providers mentioned above.
Castle Grove is a member of Ireland’s Blue Book and Georgina Campbell Ireland for Accommodation.
Free self-parking is available onsite.
Guests are requested not to bring pets inside the house, however, they are welcome to keep them in their car and exercise on the grounds.
Free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel
Check in: 2:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m. with late check-in available on request
Check out: 12:00 p.m. with late check out available on request
I recommend having a chat with Mrs. Sweeney, the owner of Castle Grove, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of local and national history and will gladly talk with guests about the history of the house and surrounding areas. Ask reception for things to see and do in County Donegal including visiting Glenveagh National Park, Slieve League, driving along the Wild Atlantic Way, horseback riding on the beach and local shopping attractions. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown and Castle Grove House on Twitter and Castle Grove House on Instagram.
If You Go:
Castle Grove Country House +353 74 915 1118
Rambelton Road, Eighterross
Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland
Castle Grove Country House review, YouTube video and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Castle Grove House while visiting County Donegal, North west of Ireland, however, all opinions are my own.