By Margaret Mather

“You never came up the coast road from Galway did you, and in this weather?” That was the greeting from the hotel receptionist as my husband and I booked in for a five-night stay. We were tired and hungry. We realised that we had made a big mistake in taking the coast road. In hindsight, we should have taken the direct route and would have arrived at Ballynahinch Castle hotel in Recess, Connemara, five hours earlier. It was a dark, dismal, foggy night when we checked in.

The beautiful bedroom we were shown to immediately lifted our spirits. It had a plaque on the outside which read O’Flaherty’s Room. We went to bed and slept soundly.
The next morning I got up and padded across the thick carpet to pull the wooden shutters apart.  

The view from the window took my breath away. Below me lay a river that twisted and turned, following the land it meandered through.

Trees edged each side of the river before opening out to grassy banks. Hills stood tall in the distance The brightness of the sun made everything look vibrant and alive. It was a glorious site and one that I will always hold dear.

Breakfast was buffet style, and there was lots of it. After finishing we decided to take a stroll by the river in an attempt to walk it off. It was there that we met one of the gillies who told us about the rich and diverse history of Ballynahich Castle hotel. The first written record of Ballynahinch Castle dates back to 1384. It was then that the O’Flahertys and O’Malleys did battle over the land. The O’Flahertys won and the two clans continued to war for the next one hundred and sixty two years.

In 1546, a young sixteen-year-old girl called Grace O’Malley married Donal O’Flaherty.

Continue reading in this year’s All-Ireland Finals Annual