This stone castle was built of granite for the first owner John George Adair between 1867 and 1873 on the shores of Lough Veagh. Adair infamously evicted the land’s 244 tenants so they would not ruin his landscape. When Adair died in 1885, his American born wife, Cornelia, ran the estate, entertained visitors and created the elaborate gardens. Professor Arthur Kingsley Porter, of Harvard University, purchased the estate in 1929 following Cornelia’s death, until he mysteriously disappeared in 1933. Porter went for a walk through the 40,000 acre estate, a storm rolled in and he was never seen again. Some say he may have fallen to his death in the storm, but others say he walked away from a lifestyle he no longer wanted that day.
Henry P. McIlhenny, of Philadelphia, purchased the castle and estate in 1937 and was its final owner before bestowing it to Ireland in the 1980s. McIlhenny’s grandfather grew up a few miles from Glenveagh and devoted his time to restoring the castle and gardens. McIlhenny, who never married and had no heirs, entertained many celebrity guests at the castle. Since none of the three castle owners had any heirs, McIlhenny bestowed it to the public. Glenveagh National Park opened to the public in 1984 and the castle opened in 1986.
The castle is open for guided tours in the summer season and has limited tours in the winter months, so be sure to check the website. Tours last about 45 minutes and tell the history of the castle itself and its three owners. Families will enjoy a short film about the castle and then visit the castle rooms while listening to the expert guide tell the castle’s stories. After the tour, families can wander outside to the gorgeous gardens and see the lake, boat house and outdoor infinity pool area or stroll one of the surrounding walking trails.
The National Park is open daily all year round, but may close during extreme weather conditions. The Visitors Center is open from 9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. with the last bus to the castle at 3:45 p.m. from November through mid-March, and from 9:15 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. with the last bus to the castle at 4:45 p.m. from mid-March through October.
Things to Know/Bring
You must purchase bus/castle tickets at the park’s visitor center.
The Castle Tearoom, located on the castle grounds (a larger restaurant is located in the park’s visitor’s center), serves homemade scones, sandwiches, salads and soups.
A bus transports visitors from the visitors center to the castle, or you can walk or bike the 2.5-mile trail.