Indeed, it’s the only castle hotel in Sligo. For the previous 370 years Markree was home to the Cooper family and hopefully you’ll still see that lineage commemorated in the magnificent stained glass window over the main staircase. With beautiful Italianate gardens and 500 acres of fields and parkland, it’s one to watch when it reopens after an extensive refurbishment in spring 2016.
Castle Durrow, Co Laois More chateau than castle – sans a turret or two – Castle Durrow in Co Laois is not the place to go for battlements or machicolations. But do you really need a murder hole to feel you’re on holiday? In any case, who are we to argue the toss between castles and palaces when a hotel has just been voted one of the Top 10 Hotel Castles in the World by Trip Advisor, as this property has. It certainly has all necessary accoutrements including sweeping staircases, antique furniture and four poster beds. But you don’t have to pay a king’s ransom to stay. Midweekovernights, includingdinner, from €175 per couple.
Lough Cutra Castle, Co Galway.It’s fair to assume Prince Charles knows a thing or two about castles. When he visited Ireland earlier this year it was to Lough Cutra Castle, in Gort, Co Galway, that he repaired.It makes sense given that it and his mother’s home, Buckingham Palace, share the same architect, John Nash.Though primarily a family home (of the Gwyn-Joneses), the gothic revival castle, scenically located beside a 400-hectare lake – the largest privately owned lake in Europe – is available to rent for house parties and weddings. The nightly rate for 18 people starts at €3,500, with a two-night minimum applying.
Killiane Castle, Wexford.The building that gives Killiane Castle in Drinagh, just outside Wexford Town, its name is a Norman tower house built in 1470. Standing 15 metres high with walls up to three metres thick, visitors can nevertheless breach it any time they like as it’s run as a farmhouse b&b by its current owners.You can’t sleep in the castle (you’ll have to make do with their 15th century home next door), but you can explore it and feel king of all you survey from its rooftop. It’s got all you could want in a castle, too, including  battlements, turrets and parapets, plus original ogee windows. It also has its very own dungeon, so no robbing the teaspoons. Singles from €75 a night including breakfast.
Until tomorrow: A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.