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Ballyportry Castle
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Reviews (14)
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Reviewed 22 March 2016

Our group of four booked three nights at Ballyportry in mid-March. We had an amazing time and would highly recommend a visit. No matter how many times you've looked at the photos, first entering the castle and taking the initial tour with the wonderful host, Tanya, is truly overwhelming. It is a wonderfully authentic restoration and lets your imagination run wild. The views from the upper levels and roof are amazing, and friendly donkeys braying in the mornings add an endearing touch. Keep in mind, though, that staying at Ballyportry does require some work. The main living area is amazing and will likely be where you'll spend the most time, but it is the very top level, which means that all wood for the fire and anything you wish to eat/drink/read, etc must be carried up all of the winding stairs. It's quite a workout, but worth it! We made a difficult decision to spend a full 24 hrs in nearby Galway for St. Patrick's Day, but would've been more than content to spend all three nights under blankets with music on and the fire going in the great hall. A truly memorable experience, and we are very grateful for our stay.

Stayed: March 2016
2  Thank knowlesr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 January 2015

We were unable to stay at Ballyportry Castle as it was already booked, but the owner was so helpful, kind and prompt in her replies that I wanted to give the castle a positive review for customer service. I'm sure the owner gives the same amount of care to her castle as she does her customers, which would make it a truly wonderful place to stay!

Stayed: January 2015, travelled with family
1  Thank ShanaSLC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 January 2015

We rented Ballyportry Castle for New Year's Eve 2014. It was such a magical time!
It is self catering, although there is an option for someone to come and cook for you.
Of course, it's very cold, but we had the fire lit and electric blankets are provided. There are two kitchens, with all mod cons, one on the ground level and one at the very top.
The twisty stairs are quite daunting at first, but you get used to them fairly fast, even in heels! The view from the roof is amazing and watching the sun come up was spectacular.
It certainly was a great experience!

  • Stayed: December 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
3  Thank Emma H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 September 2014

My husband and I had a wonderful time at Ballyportry Castle. We were welcomed warmly by Tanya and given a tour of our home for the week. It is a rustic 15th century castle with modern amenities. We found the castle to be warm and inviting, with decorations and furnishings that appeared to be consistent with that time period. We took advantage of a home cooked meal by Tanya on the day of our arrival. The meal was delicious and exactly what we needed after a long day of travel. Prior to our trip, my husband and I looked at every possible picture of the castle that we could find and found all of them to accurately portray the castle. We enjoyed exploring the castle and sitting by the fire in the evening. The view from the rooftop was amazing. This was truly the trip of a lifetime for us and we are grateful for the experience.

  • Stayed: September 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Carrie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 April 2014

The location of Ballyportry Castle is fairly easy to find and it's an easy drive to many local attractions. We had no trouble finding places to eat and shop and the people in the area were friendly and helpful.
Arriving at the Ballyportry Castle you are greeted with its magnificence and yet simple design. This tall, 15th century box style, castle is imposing and beautiful at the same time. I could only imagine how it must have appeared to travelers in its prime.
Entering the castle, first through the metal gate on the exterior wall (which can be locked from the inside for your security at night) then through the large wooden door resting on ancient stone hinges, you will pass a small bathroom to the right and the base of the spiral staircase on the left. You will next the enter the main dining room and then the kitchen. There is a fireplace with a working stove/fireplace on the right of the dining room. Several bookshelves hold book and games left by previous visitors, some going back 30 years or more. The kitchen has all the modern (albeit, some older than others) amenities except for a microwave. Everything was in working order when we arrived.
Tip: You should be safe and wash all the silverware, dishes, cookware materials and counters before using them to prepare food.
There is electricity from the town power lines and running water which is provided by a small stream/brook nearby via a hose laid in the water with a filter assembly on the end to keep excess contaminates from clogging the line with water pump by the rear of the castle. We were told to buy water for drinking and cooking and only use the running water for washing and bathing. When I saw a local herd of cows that were up-stream drinking I decided to follow the advice. I questioned brushing my teeth with water from the faucet more than once during our stay.
The spiral staircase can be dizzying to walk up and down at first but navigating it becomes easier over time. Be careful for the section of center post on the stairs that is missing. It doesn't affect the structural integrity of the stairs but it was disconcerting at first sight.
Tip:There is some interesting carved artwork in the window still after the first bedroom that isn't kid friendly, but it does have an intriguing history based in Irish/Gaelic lore.
The first bedroom is smaller than the largest but still bigger than most hotel rooms. It has its own shower, sink and toilet. There are 3 smaller bedrooms with beds and lights as you continue to ascend the stairwell. Navigating the staircase you will find another large bedroom the is positioned over the first bedroom. The floor is wood on he upper bedroom and whoever is in the first bedroom can hear every single sound from the upper bedroom.
There are three toilets, two showers and two kitchens total in the castle. Each kitchen can be stocked for limited use at your initial booking, if you so like, for an extra charge. Any other supplies you want can be purchased at the local stores that are only a short drive away.
The most impressive room in the castle is the grand living room on the top floor. Two pull out futons and a grand fireplace add to the splendor as a cathedral ceiling greets you overhead. Words don't do it justice.
Now for the negative.
We were immediately aware of the abundance of old and new cobwebs throughout the entire castle. Some looked like stalactites hanging from the ceilings. Old grease from years of people cooking coated every surface above the counters. For nearly 3,400 euro we were expecting a LOT better in upkeep and cleanliness. As we knew the castle was from the Middle Ages, we expected some cobwebs but not for it to look like an old Bela Lugosi horror movie. The counters in the downstairs kitchen were filthy with dust and grease. There was grease residue on the chains that hold the pots over the stove and even the pots were greasy enough to leave smears when I ran my fingers over them. This isn't 'oil the cast iron' oil, it was just plain greasy. The bathrooms looked to have not been cleaned in at least a month although I'm not sure if it had been a month from the last guests. We actually called the building manager to have the cleaning woman to come and clean. The cleaning woman did come and did do some limited cleaning but said that she couldn't clean effectively because the walls and ceiling would crumble.....to which I thought 'how can it be safe to inhabit if it's too fragile to be cleaned properly.' To be honest, her reasoning sounded like the excuses of a lazy housekeeper. My traveling party didn't let this dampen our vacation. We just decided to think of it as 'more authentic' medieval living and set ourselves to a little house cleaning before we used anything.
The upper bathroom has a shower that is awkward yet simple to use. The shower curtain sat to the outside of the stone tub and as a result the water falls outside the tub to the floor. We used the provided towels to clean up the mess but twice the spillage was enough to leak through the bathroom floor to the floor below. This is unavoidable if you take a normal shower and even attempting to move carefully and with small movements didn't help. Again, there were cobwebs abound but these were more recent. Often I found myself showering with the actual spiders that made them. Yes....I screamed like a girl the first time. It happened enough that they were actually crawling on me while I showered that I got over my arachnophobia by the end of the vacation.
Some more good for you:
Outside the castle the surrounding lands are quiet, beautiful and serene. The closest neighbor we never saw and, other than the occasional visit from a herd of cattle across the creek, we were alone. There is access to the top of the castle through a very small door over the top of the grand living room. It is a sight to behold and the sunrises and sunsets were worth all the crawling spiders to see.
If you do stay, make sure you close the gate to the road and close the metal gate to the castle wall to deter any tourists who might think the castle is open to visitors and tours. More than once we had to turn people away, explaining to them that we were also tourists who had rented the property.
Elaine is the building manager ( as of the time of this review) and is very knowledgable about the surrounding lands and sights. She knows the local stories and legends and is adept at weaving a tale. Elaine is also a capable cook. For a price, you can request a home cooked meal to be prepared and served by Elaine (and her mother). I found Elaine to be most pleasant and polite and is a credit to the experience.
I loved the experience but I would NOT stay at Ballyportry Castle again simply due to the (in my opinion) unsanitary and unhealthy conditions I found. For the price we paid our traveling party thought it should have been MUCH cleaner and better kept. If I want another Irish vacation I'll find another castle and do more research before to make sure I'm not bathing the native spider population when I shower. In this humble travelers opinion, the negatives outweighed the positives, but just by a small margin.
As always, Happy Traveling.

Room Tip: Pick another castle. This one need a visit from 'Mr. Clean'!
  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with family
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    • Sleep Quality
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10  Thank Justin G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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