Glenveagh Castle – A Scottish Baronial Splendor

LocationGlenveagh National Park, County Donegal, Ireland  (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byOffice of Public Works
Rooms AvailablePurpose (wedding, events, filming)
Official WebsiteN/A

Glenveagh castle is possibly one of the most recently built castles in Ireland, coming into existence in 1867. Captain John George Adair, who became a widely hated landlord in Ireland built the castle in the Scottish baronial architectural style with the aim of surpassing the Balmoral, which was Queen Victoria’s Scottish retreat. The castle is located in the Glenveagh National Park, a vast coverage of forests spread across 40,000 acres, making the castle part of one of the most enchanting landscapes in Ireland. The castle was once a big party hotspot as the then owner Henry McIlhenny loved partying in the presence of distinguished guests. It is believed that his chauffeurs would often drive down to the airports in Belfast and Shannon to pick up guests and drive them back to the castle for days of partying.

Glenveagh Castle History

Glenveagh Castle History
Glenveagh Castle, by Crispin Semmens, is licensed under (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Built by Captain John George Adair, the Glenveagh Castle is nestled inside the Glenveagh National Park. Even though it is not as old or celebrated as some of the other castles in Ireland, the Glenveagh Castle still holds its own historic significance. Captain John, born in County Laois, made a fortune for himself in the US and poured all the money to build this castle. Over the years, he became one of the most detested landlords due to Derryveagh Evictions. Although Captain John was able to reside in the castle for only a few years as he suddenly passed away in 1885, leaving the castle’s inheritance to his wife Cornelia Wadsworth of Genesco, US. Cornelia, unlike her husband, was known to be kind and big-hearted. She added several new wings and round towers to the castle and planted shelter belts.

Later, the castle was sold to Arthur Kingsley Porter, a Harvard professor of Fine Arts, who, along with his wife, made several changes and restorations in the castle. While the castle remained in personal ownership for several more decades, it was finally sold to the Irish Government, which now runs and manages it.

Glenveagh Castle Inside

Glenveagh Castle Inside, by Daniel Mennerich, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The main highlight of visiting a castle is its interiors. Every single room in the castle has its own signature essence and decoration style that compliments its purpose. For instance, the drawing room is spacious and has George III furniture and some wonderful paintings. The dining room is elegant with cutlery and tableware that has been specially commissioned. Not just that, there is a music room that houses an Irish harp dating back to the 1800s in addition to a library that overlooks the scenic views of the lake besides the castle.

The exotic gardens are equally impressive, featuring terraces, an Italian garden, a walled kitchen garden, and the Belgian Walk, a creation of Belgian soldiers who were stationed here during WWI. Their refined elegance provides a striking counterpoint to the naturally stunning surroundings enveloping the region.

Glenveagh Castle Interesting Facts

As interesting as the story is of the Glenveagh Castle, there are some really interesting facts regarding the castle as well. 

  • The castle is ripe with several walled kitchen gardens and the Belgian Walk, which were built by Belgian soldiers during WWI. It was also briefly occupied by the Irish Republican Army in 1922. 
  • Captain John George Adair evicted 244 tenants from their homes, called the Derryveagh Evictions. A woman, who was also the mother of six children, is believed to have cursed the castle that the owners will never have children. And, in all possibility, the curse came true as many of the owners never had children.

Glenveagh Castle Nearby Places to Stay

The Glenveagh National Park is spread across 40,00 acres of land. So, there are plenty of options to stay near Glenveagh Castle. Some of these include Wild Atlantic Camp, Gormley Residents, Willow House, Sams Cottages, Woodview Bed & Breakfast and more. Keeping the landscape in mind, even the accommodation facilities are humble and close to nature. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns Glenveagh Castle?

Even though the castle had several owners and residents, it is currently owned by the Irish Government and is open to the public through guided tours. 

Who built Glenveagh Castle?

Captain John George Adair built the castle between 1867 and 1873 in the Scottish baronial architectural style. 

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