“Well, aren’t you the lucky one,” she said, in one of those musical Irish accents. “You’re in the Eric Clapton room.” Who would have thought that in a 13th-century castle about a half-hour from Dublin I’d be staying in a room, complete with canopy bed and Delft bathroom fittings, named for a British rock legend?
It is said Barberstown Castle began its life in 1288 as a fortress to protect the village of Barberstown from marauding rebels intent on destroying the town. Since then the original building and its remaining 20 acres went through myriad additions and changes. Today, Barberstown Castle is a member of Ireland’s Blue Book of Country House Hotels and Restaurants.
The Castle had 37 owners over its nine centuries of existence, ranging from lords, wealthy landowners, a former mayor of Dublin to, finally, a rock star. English musician Eric Clapton owned the property 1979–1987, using it more or less as a roomy country getaway and a place to entertain his musical friends in Dublin for gigs. Eventually Clapton tired of the castle’s upkeep and sold the place to today’s owner for a bargain £250,000. Bargain though it sounds, it took much time and even more money to turn the property into the chic, 55-room, 4-star hotel it is today.
Rooms and public areas are elegantly appointed and the grounds pristine. There’s a lovely glassed atrium bar where, even if the weather turns wet, as can happen in the Emerald Isle, you can sip an Irish whiskey or a cup of tea in warm and cozy comfort while the rain falls. Meanwhile, the owner’s two golden retrievers, Lucy and Floyd, unfazed by the weather, loll around the flagstone patio with their light golden fur getting increasingly curlier.
One of the hotel’s more whimsical touches is the naming of each bedroom for one of the former owners, thus my spending three nights in the Eric Clapton room. And no proper castle is without its ghost. Barberstown’s is Nicholas Barby, though as far as I could make out, no one has ever actually caught sight of the fellow.
Straffan, Co. Kildare
tel 00 353 1 6288157
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