Haunted Ballyseede Castle, is an Irish castle stay to treasure

A castle stay in Ireland is one of those must-dos but when it includes dogs, like at the haunting Ballyseede Castle, it becomes an unmissable experience.

We all dream of living in a castle and at Ballyseede Castle, you can experience the feeling, even if it’s only for one night.

In theory, staying in castles in Ireland and Europe conjure up romantic images of opulence and elegance and it’s no surprise that the historic Ballyseede Castle is a popular wedding venue and destination for romantic weekenders. Our stay was just that, but it was also hard not to fall madly in love with the hotel/castle’s two Irish Wolfhounds.

The grand entry into Ballyseede Castle has checkered tiles and crystal chandeliers.

Welcome to Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede Castle near Tralee in Ireland’s southwest is set on 30 acres amidst thick woodlands in County Kerry. Dating back to 1590, this family-owned operation is one of the country’s best-known castle hotels, guarded over by two gigantic Irish Wolfhounds – Mr. Higgins and Miss Molly who offer a hearty greeting before retiring to their parking spaces and lying on their backs for tummy rubs, paws in the air.

Miss Molly is one of two Irish Wolfhounds at Ballyseede Castle

The four-star Ballyseede Castle offers 39 rooms over three opulent floors. The grounds are ideal for weddings and the back gardens offer an elegant gazebo and manicured lawn. Inside there are also formal function rooms, two dining areas, and an inviting bar called Paddy’s.

The gazebo in the grounds of Ballyseede Castle is popular for wedding ceremonies and photos
Paddy's Bar at Ballyseede Castle is a cozy place for a pint or drinks before a wedding or event.

Being a Friday night, Paddy’s Bar at Ballyseede Castle is bustling with wedding guests and a couple of friendly locals more than happy to share their knowledge of the area over a strong whisky. An ornate fireplace crackles with welcoming warmth and the conversation is rising to the edge of cacophony as the evening goes on. The bar offers an excellent selection of boutique whiskies, rums, gins, and local brews. We’re joined for pats and tummy rubs by a couple of other hotel dogs who are more than happy to accept guests’ attention.

O’Connell Restaurant

The 2-star AA Rosette O’Connell Restaurant Is a room fit for royalty with an ornate fireplace, a gallery of oil paintings, and a warm ambiance. The menu also offers an in-depth history of the castle with the dark tale behind a memorial that stands adjacent to the castle gates. It tells the story of Paddy O’Connor, a member of the Free State army, who was lured into an ambush by Humphrey Murphey of the IRA Kerry No.2 brigade. Paddy and five others were killed in the action.

In retaliation, Free State forces took nine prisoners from the Ballymullen Barracks at Tralee under the guise of clearing trees from the road at Ballyseede Crossing. They were tied to a fallen tree that had been mined by the IRA and the mine detonated. To add insult to mutilation, the remains were machine-gunned outside the front gates of the castle, where a memorial to their deaths now stands. Inside, the bar is named in honor of Paddy O’Connor. A little lighthearted reading.

Dinner at Ballyseede Castle is exceptional. As we sit down, we’re served a bone broth in an espresso mug. Lusting after quality seafood, we both select the Tiger Prawn and Dingle Bay Crab Cocktail, with a tangy Marie Rose Sauce and Lemon & Brown Bread, which we eagerly devour – it’s some of the freshest bread we’ve ever enjoyed.

For entrees (mains), Bernie has the Pan-Fried Beef Fillet with Truffle Dressed Water Cress Leaves and Brandy and Black Peppercorn Cream Sauce. Jess, the Grilled Fillet of Atlantic Salmon served with a Smokey Bacon, Saffron and White Cream Sauce. The local Irish beef is a revelation, up there with the best Australian beef and far surpassing anything we’ve tried in America. Dessert is a crispy Crème Brulee and it’s a fittingly regal way to end the evening.

The best room in the house

Our room is double the size of our old Greenwich Village studio and has an equally cavernous bathroom. It is luxuriously appointed with a carved four-poster bed and the kind of ancient sculpted wood wardrobe that has us tempted to see if it’s a portal to Narnia. Nope, the doors are locked tight.

The bed is spacious and comfortable with no weird divots or bumps. The bathroom is clean and the TV, though small is modern. Simple point, but some of the older properties we’ve stayed in haven’t moved past CRT screens yet.

The Ballyseede Ghost

Like any good Irish castle, it has a ghost. Ballyseede’s is a nurse from the First World War, Hilda Blennerhassett. She is rumored to be found in the Crosby Room which was once her bedroom and she leaves a scent of roses. By sheer fluke, we get the Crosby and had we known, we may have stayed up and tried to engage with her, Ghost Adventures-style. Sadly, we didn’t experience any hauntings, just each other’s snoring.

Breakfast is Served

Rising for a full breakfast we’re welcomed into a less formal dining room, The Stone Room Restaurant, where a roaring fireplace provides a warmth that offsets the chilling autumn frosts. Opting for a hearty Irish breakfast fortifies the stomach though there is a buffet of healthy options, cereals, and toast, and spreads.

By the light of day, the lounge and sitting room reveal a timeless charm with a little extra twinkle with all the Christmas decorations on display. It’s very homely and inviting and the addition of family photos from the owners reveals a little more about the castle’s character.

Checking out, we’re watched cautiously by a little white Maltese terrier. Sadly, our wolfhound friends are nowhere to be seen. It’s been an absolute treat to stay at Ballyseede Castle and an experience we’d recommend for anyone to upgrade their Irish experiences.

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Ballyseede Castle is a gorgeously renovated castle hotel that is ideal for romantic weekends, weddings and corporate events.


Tralee, Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland


Phone: +353 66 712 5799

Book direct via the hotel website or on booking.com

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3 years ago

What a gorgeous place! Those dogs are massive!!!! Too bad you didn’t get to see the ghost. Sigh

Vanessa Shields
Vanessa Shields
3 years ago

What a gorgeous and elegant place to stay! Whenever I get over to Ireland I’d love to stay here as you sold me at old castle with a fascinating history and beauty. That’s a bummer you didn’t encounter any ghostly interactions but maybe that is for the best! Haha.

John Quinn
John Quinn
3 years ago

Sometimes listening to snoring can be more haunting than ghosts. ? Glad you liked the Irish fillet, you generally can’t go too wrong with it. Wolfhounds are amazing animals, so tall and proud. Sounds like a great stay. I’ll be looking into it.

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