Home And Away Guide: Carlingford Ireland

Carlingford Co Louth located halfway between Belfast and Dublin is a small and medieval village situated in the north-east of Ireland where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea. It was founded at the beginning of the thirteenth century by Hugh de Lacy (the younger son of the Hugh de Lacy who constructed Trim Castle). He began by constructing a strong castle on an outcrop of rock that overlooked the Lough, and soon afterwards a settlement began to flourish in the shadow of the fortress. The regions inability to develop a heavy industry allowed its charm and archaeological artifacts to remain relatively intact.

The area was opened up to tourism in the 1870s by the Dundalk, Newry and Greenore railway, which passed through Carlingford but closed in 1951. Nowadays if you arrive by car from Ulster or surrounding counties you exit the M1 motorway for a pleasant drive that takes you into the village from the east. The glimpses of the lough become increasingly appealing as you near Carlingford and the charisma of the place gives an impression of local pride. With tourism as the main source of employment the region is ideal for hill walkers, golfers, sailing, fishing & other water sports.The annual Carlingford Oyster Festival usually held in late summer attracts thousands of visitors from all corners.

Ghan House a luxury Georgian guesthouse is by far the best place to stay. The property enjoys magnificent views of the lough, mountains or Slieve Foy from the restaurant and all the bedrooms.  Some guests prefer a room in the quirky old house, others the peace and quiet of the new annexes'. Built by William Stannus a politician from Dublin who was of Scottish descent Ghan House is surrounded by castellated walls and a guard tower. The first floor contains the drawing room which has a decorative ceiling of rococo plaster work of flower garlands and medallion busts reputed to be of Stannus ladies. The basement contains two underground passageways (now blocked) that led to the Heritage Centre and the bakers (now chemist).

All double and twin rooms have bath and shower en-suite and family antiques. The restaurant menu specialises in local seafood and Cooley lamb & beef. Mussels and oysters are farmed on the lough, a stone's throw from the walled grounds. Lobster from the rocky shoreline at nearby Ballagan also features seasonally. Ghan House is a recent member of Ireland's Blue Book a collection of Irish Country House Hotels, Manor Houses, Castles and Restaurants located throughout the island of Ireland.

These charming and stylish hideaways are the perfect choice for a midweek or weekend break and those seeking a romantic getaway. Activities vary from golf, fishing, spas and cookery schools or just relaxing in warm and comfortable surroundings. Residential packages at Ghan House includes one nights mid-week deluxe accommodation, with evening meal in private dining and a fully cooked to order Irish Breakfast the following morning all from €120.00 per person sharing. Joyce & Paul Carroll will make you feel genuinely welcome, and provide delicious dinners. You’ll feel the difference the moment you arrive. Visit here for more information.

Robert Walshe is a travel broadcaster with Q Radio in Northern Ireland and Travel Editor for River Media newspaper titles across the island of Ireland. 

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