There are 40 million Americans of Irish descent, many of whom have been prohibited from visiting their families in Ireland due to COVID-19. Of course, you don’t have to be of Irish descent to yearn to visit the gorgeous Emerald Isle. Over two million Americans visited Ireland last year, but the pandemic has kept most in the USA from traveling.

When the time is right, fortunately, those Jones-ing for a trip to Ireland can do it in style. Try one of the Original Irish Hotels’ 59 distinguished properties throughout the country. For a decadent visit, book an entire property along with a private chef and food stocked in advance. If you’re on a more stringent budget, choose a small boutique hotel and enjoy the Irish countryside with plenty of places to hike, bike, fish and even paddle. Here are a few top choices:

Bellingham Castle, Castlebellingham, Co Louth

Arriving with a three-generational family? Choose the elegant and spacious 17th Century Bellingham Castle in Ireland’s Northeast, less than an hour from both Dublin and Belfast. The 19-bedroom Castle is located on a 17-acre estate, set on the banks of the River Glyde. The property includes a weir (a dam across a river) and man-made river island with footbridges, mature trees and formal gardens. The Castle’s formal drawing rooms, cozy library, bars and elegant Bute Suite make it particularly attractive for exclusive use.

Delphi Lodge, Leenane, County Galway

Delphi Lodge, a 1830s country house and fishing lodge in County Galway is one of Ireland’s hidden treasures. Situated in one of the most scenically spectacular places in Connemara, it offers charming accommodations, delicious food and total serenity. Located in a wild and unspoiled extraordinarily beautiful valley, the 1,000-acre Delphi estate is surrounded by the tallest mountains in Connemara and overlooks the lakes and rivers of the Delphi valley, famous for salmon and sea-trout fishing. The stunning lodge has 13 spacious and comfortable bedrooms, a large dining room, snooker room and three reception rooms with log fires. 

Lough Inagh, Recess. Connemara, County Galway

Another County Galway gem is Lough Inagh Lodge, a charming country retreat with 13 tastefully appointed rooms, five of them furnished to deluxe standards. In addition to excellent fishing, activities include pony-trekking, hill climbing and walking (the hotel provides an excellent guidebook of recommended walks). Golf and sea sports are within easy driving distance.

Luttrelstown, Castleknock, Dublin 15

The magnificent Luttrellstown Castle is a 15th-century castle rented only on an exclusive basis Just a short distance from Dublin’s city center on a sprawling 567-acre private estate, Luttrellstown Castle has 20 beautifully appointed bedrooms, an awe-inspiring library, magnificent ballrooms and manicured lawns, Along with the historic castle, the estate also features a modern 18-hole championship golf course, horseback riding, archery, cycling and falconry.

Markree Castle, Collooney, County Sligo

Markree Castle is another historic Irish castle on a 500-acre estate in the Northwest of Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way route, the same area where famed Irish poet William Butler Yeats grew up. Markree has been lovingly and extensively renovated and is an ideal place to take a Hawk walk with Sligo Falconry, walk, trail run or paddle the river at Markree (downstream to Ballisodare Bay) or just relax to be inspired and recharged.

Ross Lake, Oughterard, County Galway

Ross Lake House Hotel is an elegant 19th Century Georgian house nestled amidst seven acres of rambling woods and rolling lawns in Oughterard, County Galway. Peace and tranquility are the hallmarks of this country house which stands at the gateway to Connemara’s rugged landscape, mountains and lake. Ross Lake House’s public areas, bedrooms and suites exude luxury, comfort and good taste. The hotel is in an ideal location for visiting Galway City, taking a day trip to the Aran Islands or touring scenic Connemara. Golf, fishing and horseback riding are all nearby.

Screebe House, Rosmuc, Connemara, County Galway

One of Ireland’s finest Victorian country houses, Screebe House offers unparalleled serenity in a beautiful setting in Rosmuc, just 40 minutes from Galway City. Visitors enjoy magnificent scenery, country and seaside walks, and superb fishing on-site. There is a soothing Spa Lodge with a swimming pool, sauna and gym. The ten bedrooms are tastefully furnished with antique interiors and original period features as well as underfloor bathroom heating.

Sheedy’s Country House Hotel, Lisdoonvarna, County Clare

The  18th Century intimate Sheedy’s Country House is just 45 minutes from Shannon Airport and the Wild Atlantic Way, making it an ideal location for visiting the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, Ailwee Caves and Doolin, a coastal village famous for wonderful little pubs with great traditional Irish music. Here. you’ll find everything from welcoming hospitality to artisanal, locally-produced food prepared by a highly skilled chef. 

Private Lodges on the estate of Ballynahinch Castle, Recess, Connemara, County Galway

With Ballynahinch Castle just next door, guests can rent a private self-catering accommodation just minutes from the Castle’s reception. A self catering property is a perfect choice for a family or group wishing to enjoy the Ballynahinch estate but in the privacy of their own holiday home. The five-bedroom Lettery Lodge or the six-bedroom Owenmore Cottage make it possible for guests to enjoy private family dinners prepared in their private kitchen or they can reserve a table in either the Castle’s stunning riverside restaurant or the authentic pub. Experienced guides will take guests bike riding, fly-fishing, hiking and lobster-potting. Guests receive a welcome hamper on arrival and a daily breakfast hamper delivered to the doorstep each morning with fresh juice and freshly baked items from the hotel’s kitchen. Grocery shopping can be arranged in advance including produce from Ballynahinch Castle’s walled garden.

So, if you’re longing to fill your heart with Ireland and want to research options for travel when the time is right, check with your local travel authority and book a reservation now for the future.

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