Ballinalacken Castle Hotel has been in the O’Callaghan family for three generations and is currently run and owned by hosts Declan and Cecilia O’Callaghan.

The original house was owned by the famous O’Brien clan – a royal and noble dynasty who were descendants of the High King of Ireland, Brian Ború. The house , castle and 100 acres of land was bought by Declan’s grandfather Daniel O’Callaghan, in 1938 and he and his wife Maisie opened it as a fine hotel. It was later passed to Daniel’s son Dennis and his wife Mary and then to his son, Declan. Declan and Cecilia have three children who also assist in the family business.

A History of Fine

The hotel has its roots as a grand haven of relaxation and luxury for the gentry of the 1930s. In those days, there would be an exodus from town and visitors would arrive by boat, train and jaunting car to take the sea air on their annual holiday.

As well as the Irish, many visitors came from England and American – one of the most prominent being actress Maureen O’Hara and her husband Captain Charles Blair who flew the first flying boat into Foynes Harbour on the Shannon. Seated in the hotel’s beautiful dining room, looking out onto the Cliffs and beyond, it’s easy to imagine visitors from this grand era, dressed in their finery and feasting on traditional home-cooked treats:

Full board included a hearty Irish breakfast in the morning, followed by the main meal of the day and high tea in the evening which was dictated by the weather. If there was squally rain blowing in from the Atlantic the frying pan would go on for a mixed grill, with plenty tea, bread and butter or if the weather was fine and warm, it was fresh salad, ham, tomatoes, boiled eggs, lettuce and scallions. Just what you might need after a day spent on the beach, out boating, hiking over the Burren or exploring the nearby historical sites...


The Castle on the Hill

Standing tall on a limestone outcrop, our very own Castle, Ballinalacken Castle, is a two-stage tower house which was built in the 15th or early 16th century. It is thought the name comes from the Irish Baile na leachan (which means “town of the flagstones/tombstones/stones”).

10th Century: The original fortress is built by famous Irish clan, the O’Connors – rulers of West Corcomroe.

14th Century: The fortress itself is found and Lochlan MacCon O’Connor is in charge of its rebuilding.

1564: Control of West Corcomroe passes to Donal O’Brien of the O’Brien family.

1582: The lands are formally granted by deed to Turlough O’Brien of Ennistymon. After the Cromwellians triumphed in the area, five of Turlough’s castles are razed to the ground – but Ballinalacken is saved as it was not on the list of “overthrowing and demolishing castles in Connaught and Clare.”

1662: Daniel dies and grandson Donough is listed as rightful holder of the Castle.


Weather permitting, we are happy to show you around the castle ruins.

On my travels, I have been a guest in many castles. Yet the monument which I find divine is the oasis where the heart and the silence intertwine.

Silent Lotus

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