The world is woven by many ancient pathways that have been carved into the historic memory of human civilizations by the countless footprints of those who walked before us. We all marvel at historic sites and ruins—the evolution of human culture and myriad patterns of life on Earth is fascinating. We all participate in this process every day, the past becoming the present for each one of us in every moment. We each leave our own individual stamp on time and place as time passes.
The 2017 Cadence Elite team was hosted this year in some extraordinary historic locales in Ireland and London. While fierce arguments could be waged on which of these provided the finest experiences, the fondest for me was perhaps Ashford Castle. Famous in an earlier era for the Guinness family, the culture and history of an establishment doesn’t get much richer!
Within the past year, the castle and estate grounds have been meticulously restored by the owners of Red Carnation Hotels. The final result is a true gem--a classic property emerging as if frozen in time but benefiting from updates that will satisfy any 21st Century traveler who has the good fortune of residing there for a couple memorable days and nights.
Nature and history connected for me on one fine clear winter morning on castle grounds when we participated in a “Hawk Walk”. Ashford maintains a “School of Falconry”—the oldest in Ireland. Records indicate that raptors have been used by humans to assist in hunts in China and the Far East since 2,000 BC. Falconry reached its highest level in the British Isles in the 16th Century.
The birds that interact with guests at Ashford Castle are Harris Hawks, a species found in the Southwestern USA. The creatures are spectacular—bright-eyed, keenly alert and amazingly well-trained. They follow and in turn lead their human companions through the estate woodlands during this experience. Everyone gets an opportunity to have the hawk land and take off from a gloved arm, bringing you eyeball to eyeball with an extraordinary feathered spirit.
Speaking of spirits, one cannot leave Ashford Castle without sipping some famous Irish whiskey in the Prince of Wales Bar. Given the guest list of this hotel, the room oozes historical presence, namesake for the Prince of Wales himself who used the space privately during his visit in 1905.
If hawks and whiskey aren’t at the top of your list, guests of the castle can participate in fine dining at George V restaurant, ride horses or bicycles, play golf or billiards, fish for salmon, enjoy archery or clay pigeon shooting or lounge in the new state of the art spa. This is a world that offers a perfect blend of past and present—an opportunity to feel like royalty within the glowing bubble of Ashford Castle. Cheers!
Click below to view the properties we visited during our trip - please contact me to hear about my experiences!
Ashford Castle - Located in County Mayo, Ireland
K Club - Located in Kildare, Ireland
The Dorchester Hotel - Located in London, England
45 Park Lane - Located in London, England
Coworth Park - Located in Ascot, England