The best Castle wedding venues in Ireland
For many brides and grooms, a castle wedding is something they've always dreamed about. Luckily, Ireland's rolling countryside has plenty of historic wedding venues to choose from.
Few places in the world can match Ireland when it comes to the romanticism of a castle wedding. Whether it’s the wild romanticism and rugged beauty of the West or the tamed manicured elegance of our ancient heritage, there’s something truly magical about a castle wedding in Ireland.
For many of us, it is the memories of childhood fairy-tales that appeals. For others, the drama played out over centuries within their stone walls. Or maybe it’s a simple appreciation for the magnificence of their grounds.
Whatever the reason, when your wedding venue is a romantic castle your wedding photography shines that little bit brighter. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to capture a number of special days in some of Ireland’s most beautiful castles. Here are a few of my favourites.
It is hard to match the pure regal elegance and quiet sophistication of Ashford Castle. From its silk-lined walls, rich oak panelling and Waterford Crystal chandeliers, to an attention to detail and service that is second to none, the staff at Ashford Castle will leave no stone unturned to ensure you have a magical wedding to remember.
And if the opulence of the castle and the service isn’t enough to entice you, the magnificence of the castle grounds, with it’s lake side setting, dramatic backdrops and multiplicity of gardens, provide the perfect setting for spectacular photos.
Two beautiful churches nestle into the landscape, one in the traditional village of Cong itself and one in the estate, a remote isolated and deeply romantic gem.
Ashford Castle is the first and only venue in Ireland to be awarded the prestigious five-star rating by the Forbes Travel Guide. I was invited to photograph Laura and Anthony spring wedding day in its spectacular surrounds, but it sings in every season.
The recently refurbished Dromoland Castle is an extravagant and imposing Castle embued with history and grandeur. Within easy striking distance of Shannon Airport, Dromoland is popular with wedding parties anticipating many overseas guests.
Set amidst stunning grounds, it’s golf course and walled garden are just the beginning. Inside it’s pure luxury and indulgence, plush carpets, velvet curtains and twinkling chandeliers. And if you’re dreaming of champagne receptions in walled gardens and feasting in banquet halls steeped in ancient history, Dromoland Castle could be the one for you.
Many couples opt to remain within the privacy of the estate and exchange vows in the Walled Garden, the front lawn or inside in one of the magnificent banquet halls.
And when it comes to photography, you are spoilt for choice. There are so many beautiful locations within the grounds of the castle that the team at Dromoland offer a buggy service to whisk you around the estate to choose your favourites, be it the walled garden, the grandeur of the driveway or a more romantic lakeside boathouse.
Perhaps the piece de resistance for any bride dreaming of a Castle wedding you simply cannot beat the original staircase framed by the stained glass windows.
Kilkea Castle is a true medieval castle with a genuine moat and drawbridge. A stronghold of the Fitzgerald family it is situated on 180 acres of land. Purchased a decade ago by Jay and Christy Cashman, the 12th century castle has been completely renovated, retaining all of the original charm and adding a luxurious spa.
Wander down narrow stone hallways and up twisting stone stairs, or around the Victorian walled garden, and a deep sense of places permeates.
The front lawn with the castle as a backdrop, is a popular spot for wedding ceremonies but there are a myriad church alternatives in the area including the stately Cathedral in Carlow.
Dependent on the weather and the look you prefer, there are plenty of picturesque locations for your photography. The rose garden is quaintly romantic with the castle as the backdrop, you can take beautiful shots under the willow trees that line the stream running through the estate, there is the nearby forest for a more mystical look, and the ancient ruined church is pure romance.
Kilkea Castle provides epic architecture inside and out, the perfect canvas for wedding photos yet the most iconic of all must be the photo on top of the turret with the gardens stretching out below. Magnificent!
Made famous by the Beckham wedding, the name Luttrellstown Castle conjures up many images but it is best experienced in person. Despite its grand ceilings and ornate plasterwork, this private castle in Dublin is very homely, with natural linen fabrics and botanical prints, elevated with smooth velvets and gilded furniture.
Outside, as pictured above, is over 500 acres of lush parkland, a championship golf course and lush formal planting.
The long driveway brings a regal importance to any wedding, and you can capture some exceptional wedding photos as you approach the castle. The historical façade of the entrance to the castle provides a beautiful frame for wedding photos and there are plenty of other options.
The beautiful monument, in a quiet lane beside the lake gives a gravitas to the occasion, romance a plenty in the walled garden or the beautiful old spiral staircase and once inside the castle the opportunities are endless. Every room is a showstopper, and the lighting is beautiful. And who doesn’t love a magnificent staircase for the large group photo. It’s perfect!
Castle Leslie holds a special place in our hearts. One of the few, if not only, castles to remain in the hands of its founding family, Castle Leslie can offer a warmth of welcome that stems from its family heritage.
Built in the Scottish Baronial style the castle presents a magical exterior, with fine brickwork and oriel windows. Inside it is brimming with warmth and welcome with the very best of Irish hospitality.
There is an elegant lodge in the estate which the wedding party often make their own. There are plenty of options for the ceremony itself. For church weddings there are a number of local options in Glasson village. Truly resplendent albeit slightly further afield is Monaghan Cathedral.
If you would rather stay put, the lawn in front of the castle is a beautiful spot or alternatively a number of function rooms are available dependent on numbers. Smaller wedding parties can be accommodated in the main house Dinner is generally served in a permanent marquee
Also on the grounds is a world-class equestrian centre which takes advantage of the 1,000 acres of ancient woodlands. Take a look at Kate and Matthew’s Castle Leslie wedding to see more.
The wild romance of the West of Ireland makes Ballynahinch Castle one of the most beautifully located castles in Ireland. The castle is more intimate than most and in many ways, has more the feel of an elegant hunting lodge.
Completely refurbished in 2020,the castle retains all of it’s understated charm. A world-famous salmon fishery, set on a dramatic bend in the Owenmore river, think roaring fires, cosy nooks, glorious views, and quiet elegance. Not to mention the wonderful fire side pint of Guinness.
There are some iconic locations for your wedding photography, beautiful jetties set amidst the hauntingly beautiful Twelve Bens mountain range. Tree lined river walks offer plenty of dappled light, the quiet intimacy of the Walled Garden or wide dramatic skies from one of the lawns in front of the castle.
An understated gem of the landed gentry.
If privacy is high on the agenda, Waterford Castle with it’s restricted access feels a world away. Standing proud on an island on the River Suir, the castle is only accessible by private ferry.
Originally a 6th-century settlement of monks, it was the Fitzgerald family who developed most of the castle as it stands today and established a legacy of feasts and banquets on the island for 800 years. Look out for the monk above the window at the main entrance, an original architectural feature.
It’s possible to have full exclusivity of the island, which makes for an incredibly intimate affair. You can choose from a number of unique and romantic settings at the castle itself for your ceremony, the lawn beneath the natural canopy of the oak tree is particularly beautiful.
Some couples opt to take the private ferry across to one of the local churches, stopping off enroute for some magnificent beach photography before returning for the reception.
Lough Eske Castle
Lough Eske, a five-star hotel set in Donegal’s Bluestack Mountains, was recently voted the number one best hotel in Ireland – and with good reason. While its impressive exterior and calming neutral rooms makes a striking first impression, brides and grooms are consistently blown away by the wedding planning service.
There is a beautiful rural church just across the road from the castle which is popular for couples interested in a church wedding. Or if you prefer to keep it all on sight, the front lawn or the rockery garden are super locations for the ceremony.
Donegal is renowned for it’s natural beauty and Lough Eske Caste offers boundless possibilities for the perfect photoshoot. The lake offers great possibilities for natural relaxed photos and the castle itself provides a truly spectacular more formal backdrop.
Castle Durrow is more stately home than castle. A homely 18th-century family-run hotel with good proportions, the original character has been retained and modern conveniences like underfloor heating are cleverly hidden. Its wallpaper alone are works of art.
There are plenty of locations to choose from for your photoshoot. The Bridal suite itself is perfect with a magnificent view of the garden to act as backdrop. And the amazing staircase gives that perfect iconic shot.
The original ruined castle is on site and is wonderfully romantic spot or you could choose the walled garden which is great for group shots.
The walkway from the main house towards the function room and if that isn’t enough to choose from you have the possibility of nipping to Heywood Gardens
Located on the Wild Atlantic Way in County Sligo, Markree Castle’s Gothic towers and turrets have recently been renovated but all the authenticity of this 15th-century Irish castle remains. Its ornate painted plasterwork and gilded furniture ensure a feel of glamour, and the spectacular onsite church with sweeping arches, dark wood panelling and soaring stained glass windows offers a dramatic setting to your nuptials.
Or if you’d prefer a less traditional ceremony and the weather is fine, the castle’s terrace overlooking the estate’s manicured laws, circular rose garden and wishing well is a dream.
Lough Rynn in County Leitrim, is an exquisitely restored 19th Century Castle hotel. In a county famous for its lakes and rivers, Lough Rynn Castle Hotel, sits majestically in a secluded fairy tale location. Breathtaking views envelope you and are the perfect backdrop to magnificent wedding photos. The hotel provide a buggy tour of the estate to help choose the locations that most appeal.
The ancestral home of the Clements family, Lough Rynn Castle has recently been transformed into a modern hotel and wedding venue where timeless glamour meets secluded quiet. So much so, it’s where Amy Huberman and Brian O’Driscoll were wed. The romantic grounds are picture perfect, while indoors the John McGahern library – so named after the famed writer from Leitrim – and Baronial Hall are warm and welcoming.
If you prefer a church ceremony there are plenty to choose from in nearby Mohill, but many couples opt to remain on sight and exchange vows on the lawn with the entire castle estate at your fingertips. Magic!