You never expect to get the keys to the castle when you stay in one…
One thing I have to tell you is that some castle keys pretty much looked like ordinary keys. Not all of them are wonderful big old keys.
I’m sure there are some like that, but let me tell you the story.
We planned to drive around Ireland, stopping wherever we wanted for the night… find a room in a B&B or a Pub or little hotel…
But Mark is romantic, and he likes to try for a splurge once in a while…
And castle stays are at the top of his list.
We looked up Ross Castle…
(Their website gives you a warning... they will tell you this is the one in Oldcastle not the one in Killarney.)
We found that this was one that we probably could fit into our budget. So when we were ready to leave Dublin, we emailed them to see if they had a room available for the night.
We were glad to find out that they did…. and they sent us directions to the castle.
We went to visit the Hill of Tara. There are several ancient monuments here. According to lore, Tara was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland from the times of mythological beginnings.
While Tara may be significant in Irish lore, there is not much to see today… you just need to feel the area and think about the myths that surround you.
By late afternoon we struck out to find the castle. Finding the little town of Oldscastle wasn’t a problem, though it is much further out than we expected.
Mark kept asking. “How much further?” And I’d say….. “Oh another 30 or 40 km.”
I’ll give you the directions because the castle really is worth a stay… and because I want you to see just out in the middle of nowhere we were!
From Oldcastle, we were very glad to have the detailed directions that she sent us.
This Ross Castle is a Norman Keep… a wonderful square tower watching over the lake. It was built in the 1500s and rebuilt a couple of times. (Fortunately for us with modern conveniences added.)
So much for the history of the castle.
When we arrived, we were given our choice of rooms as we were the only guests.
We chose the masters bedroom at the top of the tower…
So what if we had to climb 4 flights of winding stairs?
When we asked about dinner, the manager told us that she usually could cook upon request, but she was having a big party for her daughter the next day, and she really couldn’t. She suggested a nice country club restaurant about 30 minutes away, and we said that would be fine.
So we settled into our room and got ready to go out for dinner.
Oh yes... the keys to the castle. Here’s the point of this little story…
When we descended the stairs again, our hostess said there was only one little problem. They lived about a mile away, and with all the party preparations, they really couldn’t be there when we got back from dinner….
“So,” she says, “Can I give you the keys to the castle?”
No one has ever said that to us. Can I give you the keys to the castle! What fun.
Did I mention there was a ghost? And a Knight In Shining Armor? And a parrot… well, not really a parrot.
When we got back from dinner, I really wanted to send an email telling all our family about having the keys to the castle. No wifi in the tower room, so I had to go to the bottom floor.
It was just me and the suit of armor in the corner. And the parrot reminiscent of a Monty Python skit…
It was windy outside.
Now stone castles don’t creak, but windows do rattle, and I could hear the wind…
It was just a little spooky being down there all alone.
Upstairs the room was spookier at night too…
Or romantic depending on how you look at it!
I kept wondering if Sabrina the ghost was around. I understand she only shows herself to men, but neither of us encountered her... Only the castle dog.
Our host and hostess told us that there was more history nearby.
We were on our way to see the New Grange and Knowth monuments in the Bru na Boinne, but our hostess told us not to miss Loughcrew… which was also a great burial mound, but it was more rustic… and free... with docents to tell you all about it.
It's one of the top Neolithic passage tombs and it's fun to climb up to it and see it without the crowds you encounter in Bru na Boinne.
Ross Castle is a terrific little castle to stay in.
Not a fancy castle hotel this one… Just makes you feel like lord of the manor… especially if they give you the keys to the castle... if only for a night.
Here's the website for this Ross Castle... If you go to Ireland, stay in a castle