One day, when I'm rich and famous... (or at least once my kids are grown and gone!) I have dreams of travelling to Europe. Being that I still have romantic notions about princes of might and valor, pretty princesses, and knights in shining armor, I would love to visit some of the great castles of Europe. One of the very first I would see when venturing to Ireland would be Ashford Castle in Cong, Co Mayo; about 30 miles away from the city of Galway.
It was founded about eight centuries ago (around 1228) by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family following the defeat of the native O'Connors of Connaught. It served as a mighty fortress for many years to come, and it's ownership changed hands numerous times over the centuries.
As you can clearly see, it's set amidst the backdrop of spectacular forests, lakes, and mountains, and has an almost magical, ethereal quality to it's physical characteristics that stirs up little-girl fantasies of fire breathing dragons and jousting knights attempting to win the hand of a fair maiden.
Although it has undergone many changes over the years, it appears to still retain the beauty of it's former glory. It's actually a hotel/castle now, so people can STAY in it during vacations!
As with most luxury hotels, this has the typical spa treatments and exercise rooms available for its patrons to frequent, but what this particular one has that all the others do NOT is... a school of Falconry! Yes, I'm serious! Isn't that unique? I would definitely have a visit with the school (and the Falconer's not bad, himself, either I might add)!
Around 1985, a group of Irish-American investors actually purchased Ashford Castle and restored it to the luxurious castle that appears before us, today. (In fact, it's certain to be BETTER than ever, because castles were typically not built as places of luxury in their origin, but of necessity). There are hundreds of beautiful acres to the estate where visitors can relax while picnicing, fishing, hiking, etc. in addition to exploring the grand castle itself, gardens, and grounds.
Many rich and famous Americans have stayed within the castle walls (Jack Nicholson, The Reagans, Molly Ringwald, Johnny Cash, Harry Belafonte, John Travolta, and more) and I can't wait until MY name is added to the list of guests! (I better start saving my money NOW, I'm sure!)
So tell me... where do YOU dream of going?!