Have you ever seen the 1988 fantasy/horror movie, starring Peter O’Toole, Daryl Hannah, and Steve Guttenburg? No, well go rent it today! Since I was 8 years old I wanted to stay in a castle in Ireland; the exposed ancient stone, the possibility of seeing a ghost and sitting by an enormous fire that warmed a room appealed to my 8 year old mind.
When planning the trip to Ireland I started looking at castles. But the castles I found were not what I had in my mind. Most, are now 5 star hotels which sit on a golf course; the rooms are carpeted, with prints of water color paintings hanging on the walls and the stones are covered in plaster or sheet rock; the price points were way out of my league as well. Exhausting my google search of “castles in Ireland” I took my search back to Airbnb.
On Airbnb, I entered ‘Galway’ into the search and there were tons of bed and breakfast and hostels but I kept clicking and not even sure what I was looking for. Then there it was, Pete’s Castle, “This castle has been restored to its original state by using traditional materials, and also by using cutting edge technology. We used traditional local stone, limestone, as well as oak beams, to make the castle as traditional as possible, but it also has modern conveniences, such as solar water heating. The castle was built sometime in the 1400’s but was refurbished in the last decade.” -Peter Owner https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/658697
Now I have to admit, I spent more on this stay than all other locations on my trip but the expense was totally well worth it. Leaving Connemara was bitter sweet, I fear that I will never see that landscape again, which makes me a bit sad but the trip must move forward. Heading to the other side of Galway to the town Craughwell to my castle accommodations, still keeping with the theme of getting lost, I contacted Peter to let him know I was indeed, lost, even though the directions are a clears as day.
Peter gave me instructions to go to the Petrol station, there is only one, and wait for him. I wasn’t waiting long before a truck pulled up next to me, the window rolled down and a skinny fellow with a wide grin says in a British Accent, asks, “Are you Liz?”. Here was Peter.
After our brief introductions Peter leads me down one way paths, over cobble stone bridges where one car let alone two cars could fit, past cow pastures and semi flooded dirt roads. We stop, he tells me to take a right and keep going and I will see the castle and he will meet me there in a bit but his partner Eva is home and will greet me.
Driving up the path, high above the trees and pastures is the castle and it is magnificent.
Eva escorts me inside and I am as giddy as a school girl. There is a room straight ahead used by Peter and his family as a game room but directly to my right, there is a stone spiral staircase. There are no railing, I don’t think that was a building code in the 1400’s so you hold onto a rope that drops down from the top of the Castle. Eva leads me to a door, where the is no landing, just a door off the staircase. This room is massive, it doubles as a living room, kitchen, study with another room inside which is the bathroom.
Now I haven’t told you much about Eva and Peter. Eva is quiet and reserved but she is very sweet non the less. Peter on the other hand is truly a character and if you were to meet him count yourself lucky. Fashion designer turned stone mason, with his own hands and help from friends and family he build the castle up to what it is today. He and his ex-wife purchased the castle in 1996; the castle was slowly giving way to time and history, but he saw something in it. 20 years after purchasing the property Peter only has one room left to finish and a few more stones to place at the top. Peter’s excitement for life and what it has to offer is catching and he is one of the best story tellers I know.
After a chat and coffee, Eva and Peter retired to their other duties. Before they left Eva showed me to my room. Continuing up the stairs, to another grand door, I turned the round metal handle. The room is just as big as the living room; a queen bed made by Peter from the wood behind the castle, a grand fireplace, two armchairs and a loft space. This room can easily sleep 4 people or 2 adults and 3 children. The personal touches to ever inch of this place was incredible.With that, Peter and Eva took their leave and I was alone in the castle.