The area around Ashford
Castle was once the territoryof
the O'Connor's they has several castles in Connaught, but their
main castle was at Cong which is strategically located at the narrow
junction of Lough Mask and Lough Corrib. The O'Connors held the
castle until 1228 when they lost it to the Anglo Norman de Burgo's
who built several castles in Connaught to consolidate their control
of the area.
The de Burgo's held the castle until 1589
when they lost it to the English Lord Binghan, governor of Connaught,
who anxious to retain control of it added some fortifications.
In 1715 the estate was owned by the wealthy
Oranmore / Browne family who added an extravagant French style chateau.
By 1852 the estate had a new owner
Benjamin Lee Guinness (1798-1868) grandson of Arthur the founder
of the Guinness dynasty. Benjamin extended the estate to 26,000
acres, building new roads, planting thousands of trees and adding
two large Victorian style extensions to the castle. After Benjamin's
death in 1868 his son Lord Ardilaun 'Arthur Edward Guinness', continued
his fathers work, particularly with regards to forestry, it was
he who rebuilt the west wing of the castle the architect was Joseph
In 1951 John Ford the distinguished American
film director choose the town of Cong to shoot his film 'The
Quiet Man' many of the stars John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry
Fitzgerald and of course John Ford stayed in Ashford castle.