We spent the week with my family at Ross Castle, a 16th century castle just outside of Galway city on a117 acre property. The primary castle buildings consisted of a large main building (inhabited by the castle owners) and three smaller buildings (for castle guests). The main building, although it looked like a three-story structure from the front, actually had five levels.
The property suffered disasters fires in both 1770 and 1930. In reconstructing, the buildings were reconfigured a bit, with the walls remaining in place and changes made to the roofs and the layouts. The current owners of the castle bought the property, in complete ruin, in 1985 and set about restoring it.
The three buildings with guests quarters are adjacent to the larger main building and were constructed in a u-shaped around a square courtyard. A chapel, a stone wall, and an arched gateway made up the fourth wall surrounding the courtyard. Courtyard buildings – St. George Hall, Catherine’s Hall, and Park Hall – were built in 1590, 1670, and 1770, respectively. Notice the various heights of the ceilings – they seem to have risen from century to century.
The chapel was small but beautiful.
The stained glass windows were brought from United States.
We spent almost every night hanging out in the various sitting rooms in the courtyard buildings.
Everyone wanted to hold Baby Barrett.
The three courtyard buildings had a total of 20 guests bedrooms. Danny and Patrick were thrilled to have a fireplace in their bedroom. They repeatedly asked if we could return to Ross Castle for Christmas since they figured their odds of seeing Santa Claus would increase if they slept in the same room as the fireplace Santa would use to enter.
The boys also liked watching the centipedes in their room and playing with the snails in the courtyard.
The castle pub was a popular place. That week, we drank two kegs of Guinness and two kegs of Smithwick’s.
We mastered the art of pouring the perfect pint of Guinness. Padraic, the castle caretaker, told us to hold the glass away from ourselves at a 45 degree angle, filling it three quarters of the way. After the Guinness has a few minutes to settle, he told us to hold the glass level and fill it to the top. After another rest for the Guinness to settle, it is ready to be enjoyed. It was delicious!
While Danny and Patrick may have been drafted into service as Guinness delivery men, we did not actually let them drink any Guinness!
There were multiple kitchens in the castle guest quarters and we ate most of our meals in the kitchen with the largest table.
The castle also had a billiards room. My sister Annie was still able to enjoy the room even after a small ceiling collapse due a malfunctioning, leaky washing machine located directly above the billiards room.
The kids’ favorite feature was the indoor pool.
Danny and Patrick especially loved being thrown through the air by their uncles.
Look at this excellent form by Danny as he’s launched by my brother Kevin!
The castle gardens were large and really beautiful.
We spent lots of time in the courtyard.
There was a large scenic lake on the property.
Patrick and Danny loved the boathouse next to the lake.
We took advantage of the gorgeous setting and the family togetherness to have professional pictures taken. Here are the matriarch and patriarch of the clan.
Here are me and Brian with Patrick (6), Danny (4), and Kevin (17 months).
Mary Kate and Dirk and their three kids – Haley (14), Mara (7), and Emmett (5).
Patrick and his wife Amy.
Maureen, her husband Jonah, and their son Pierce (9 months).
Sheila and her husband Mike.
Kevin and his fiancée Matty.
Matt and his wife Noura.
Nora, her husband Dan, and their kids Evelyn (15 months) and Barrett (2 weeks old).
Brian and his girlfriend Alyse.
The Three Little Girls: Katie (23), Annie (25), and Colleen (21).
The 12 kids with Mom and Dad.
When spouses and kids are added in, there are 31 people.
Here are all 33 of us, adding in Alyse and Rita.
Here are Grandma and Grandpa with the eight grandkids.
Up next: a few more days at Ross Castle with horseback riding, family dinners, and falcons!