Caisleán Cheapach Corcóige aka Ashford Castle was built in 1228 on the perimeter of a monastic site on the shore of Lough Corrib by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family (following their defeat of the O'Connors of Connaught).
For more than three-and-a-half centuries it was the principal stronghold of the de Burgos aka de Búrca / Burke / Bourke until 1589 when the castle fell to Sir Richard Bingham, who added a fortified enclave within its precincts.
In the 1670s, by Royal Grant, the estate was received by Dominick Browne (Baron Oranmore and Browne) who added a hunting lodge in the style of a 17th-century French chateau in 1715.
In 1814, Thomas Elwood (agent for the Brownes at Ashford) was recorded as living there.
In 1852, Ashford was sold in the Encumbered Estates' Court to purchased by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness who added two large Victorian-style extensions. Upon his death in 1868, the estate passed to his son who became Lord Ardilaun in 1880 (Ardilaun is an island on Lough Corrib).
Lord Ardilaun expanded the building further, rebuilt the entire west wing of the castle, and connected the early 18th-century part in the east with two de-Burgo-time towers in the west. Battlements were added to the whole castle and Ashford's massive woodlands were developed. Ardilaun was considered by many to be an "improving landlord". He increased commerce to the Lough Corrib area by subsidised steamboats which served Galway City. His Cong Canal aka 'the Dry Canal', built to link Lough Mask and Lough Corrib was a failure, however, due to its inability to hold water.
Ashford Castle Hotel
In 1939, Ardilaun's nephew Ernest Guinness sold Ashford to Noel Huggard (from Waterville Co Kerry) who opened the estate as a hotel.
In 1970, the castle was bought by John Mulcahy, who oversaw its complete restoration and expansion until he sold it in 1985. Ashford Castle sold in 2007 for €50 million and following the crash, the hotel sold in 2013 for €20 million. The hotel supports roughly 160 jobs in the district. In 2015, Ashford Castle was voted the world's best hotel by Virtuoso Travel Week.
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