A 12th century masterpiece awaits you at Kilkea Castle, located one hour south of Dublin in the county of Kildare, Ireland. With memorable cuisine that deserves its own storybook, 180 acres of breathtaking property to explore, concerts and festivities, beautifully appointed bedrooms and suites in the castle, self-catering lodge and carriage house, and a golfer’s paradise with an 18-hole golf course, shop, and putting range, Kilkea (pronounced Kil-Key) is an ideal year round couples and family destination.
The castle, which dates back to 1180, encompasses a rich, magnificent lineage as the former medieval stronghold of the FitzGerald’s, Earls of Kildare. The castle still holds its historic charm while combining the warmth and friendliness of the Irish people as it welcomes guests from all over the globe. Guests at the castle during our stay this past week included couples and families from India, England, France, and the United States.
The culinary program, led by Executive Head Chef David McKane, has a full menu of the most outstanding Irish cuisine with hints of International inspiration. For breakfast at Restaurant 1180, which is served from 8-11am, guests have a full menu of options to choose from all in addition to a full continental buffet including croissants, muffins, yogurt, cheeses, pain au chocolat, cereal, granola, and fresh fruit as well as a selection of juices, tea, coffee, espresso, and cappuccinos.
For the main course, choices are The Castle Breakfast (a traditional Irish Breakfast), Irish Oatmeal Porridge, Eggs Florentine, Eggs Royale, French Toast, Avocado and Eggs, Eggs Benedict, Golden Waffles or Pancakes, and a Three Egg Omelette. Ingredients include locally sourced milk, butter, eggs, cheese, and more. Their yogurt and butter, for example, is sourced from Glenilen Farm. Breakfast is also served and available at The Bistro in the clubhouse, which offers a selection of healthy breakfast dishes and light bites, including many of the same dishes served at Restaurant 1180. Breakfast is served at The Bistro from 8-11:30am.
Their grand Drawing Room is where guests have the opportunity to experience their relaxing Afternoon Tea. Allow yourself at least 90 minutes to savor their delicious cucumber and ham finger sandwiches, open-face crab rolls, scones with clotted cream and jam, and desserts like macarons, lemon meringue tarts, and chocolate mousse cakes. Pair your three-tiered stand with a selection of their fine teas, including Lemongrass, Early Grey, and Hibiscus served with milk, lemon, and sugar cubes.
A lovely way to dine outside is with one of their picnic baskets that come in three different sizes depending upon your party size. Included is a blanket, drinks including water and soda, sandwiches, caramel-stuffed doughnuts, double chocolate chip muffins, fresh fruit including apples and pears, and more.
Dinner at Restaurant 1180 in the Grand Dining Room is a must-experience for couples and families. The Dining Room at the castle seemingly ‘evolves’ throughout the day, creating a different atmosphere for each setting. A romantic and sophisticated setting for dinner, there is a Signature Tasting Menu that is €70 per person or €55 per person a la carte. The Tasting Menu includes Doonbeg Crab with Cucumber and Lemon, Wild Mushroom Tartlet with Apple and Hazelnuts, Dexter Beef with Confit Shallot and King Oyster. For dessert, start with Berries with watermelon and lime, and a favorite Peanut Parfait with Caramelized Banana and Lime for that unique undertone kick. We paired our dinner with the Sauvignon Blanc, Hunky Dory from New Zealand that Andrew, the manager, recommended to us. He was so spot on that we could not resist writing down the name of the wine for future reference.
A dinner at The Bistro, served from 6-9:30pm, includes a selection of soups, appetizers, hearty salads, traditional Irish main courses, and dessert. Notable dishes include their Seafood Chowder served with Brown Soda Bread; Superfood Salad with broccoli, quinoa, avocado, pomegranate, feta, and spiced nuts; Honey and Soy Stir Fry with honey & soy dressed noodles, spring onions, chili, and sesame; Bangers & Mash with Kildare Farm gourmet sausages, whole grain mustard mash, and red onion jam; and the Wild Board T-Bone with wholegrain mustard crushed potatoes, and red onion jam. The Bangers & Mash is a must-have, one of the best I have had.
For dessert, the one that takes the crown is the Salted Caramel Pot with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, also highly recommended by the staff. Additional choices include the Dark Chocolate Mousse with candied orange, Strawberry Mille-Feuille, an Irish Cheese Collection, Lemon Tart, and a selection of Artisan Ice Cream with mini doughnuts and fruit coulis.
Things to Do
Your day can be filled with several different activities on property. Choose from such estate activities as archery, falconry, equestrian, golf, fishing, floating down the lazy river with a glass of wine (currently available for groups only), walking through the gardens and around the golf course, and tennis. Some activities, including tee time and equestrian excursions, should be booked a few days in advance.
The 140-bedroom resort boasts several accommodation options. Guests can choose from a luxurious Castle Bedroom, a Carriage Bedroom, a Self-Catering Lodge or a Lodge Bedroom. The 11 Bedroom Castle is also available for Exclusive Hire, perfect for weddings, family reunions, and celebrations of all kinds.
Notable suites include the awe-inspiring Fitzgerald Suite on the third floor that features sweeping views of the garden and extensive landscapes. In the courtyard, the original carriage house and stables have been converted into 31 lovely bedrooms, many of which showcase original features including bespoke wrought iron and exposed wooden beams. Amenities in the carriage houses include Elemis bath and shower products (available for purchase in the spa), flatscreen television, bathrobes, and your own slippers to keep.
An experience at Kilkea Castle is not complete without a spa treatment. Choose from a wide variety of treatments including massages, facials, treatments exclusive for men, prenatal massage treatments, scrubs and wraps, makeup application, blowouts, hair styling, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and more. Favorite treatments include the Thousand Flower Detox Wrap and the Deeper Than Deep Hot Stone Massage. After a treatment, guests are invited to the relaxation room to lie down with a glass of water and or hot tea. Soon to open will include a fitness center, hydrotherapy room, yoga center, and more.
Traveling to the resort is easy. Kilkea Castle has its own car and transportation service that guests are able to book and utilize throughout their stay, including the option of their airport transportation service. Their drivers are exceptional, as is all of their staff members, who all go above and beyond in every respect.
You also may take the Irish Rail to Kilkea Castle, stopping at the Athy train station, just a forty-minute train ride outside of Dublin’s Heuston Station. Athy is less than ten minutes from the Castle.
Places of Interest Nearby
There are many sights to see, and things to do, and explore within a half hour’s driving distance of the castle. If you love horses, a must-visit is the Irish National Stud and Gardens, which I recommend arriving before 3pm to make the most out of your visit. There is also the Castletown House & Gardens, Burtown House & Gardens, and Mondello Park. Nearby towns include Carlow, which offers many shopping and dining options, and Kilkenny, which is about a half hour away by train. Kilkenny is known as The Marble City or medieval city where you can walk the ‘Medieval Mile’. Visit Kilkenny Castle and dine at Langston’s. For a great local’s pub, visit Moone High Cross Inn, a less than five minute’s drive from the Castle.
Current specials at Kilkea Castle include an Ultimate Castle Spa Escape, an Autumn Sale for 25% off Bed and Breakfast, a Taste the Island Experience, and a Halloween Mid-Term.
Visit our Facebook page and Instagram @eastendtaste for more photos and details from our visit.
https://www.kilkeacastle.ie // 1-855-9-KILKEA (855-954-5532)