This Sligo castle ticks 5 major boxes, making for the dreamiest of wedding venues
Whether you're on the hunt for the perfect wedding venue or just a gawk at one of Ireland's most authentic castles, you've come to the right place.
Dating back to the 15th century, Sligo's Markree Castle is different.
After a refurbishment in 2017, you'd think the former home to the Cooper family would have lost its old-school feel, but thankfully, it has simply been brought back to its former glory.
Rather fittingly, it's part of the Romantic Hotels of Ireland Collection and during a recent visit, I couldn't help but picture the scene of a wedding in just about every corner of the house. To start;
It might be a castle sitting on a hefty 300-acre plot but once inside, it really does provide a calm and relaxed feel.
Decked out with lavish décor, rugs, grand fireplaces (the logs give the castle the most gorgeous aroma), antiques and so on, it feels as though these walls were not only built for protection and status, but to feel like a home on the inside too.
A huge element to this is probably the fact that so many hotels or castles we visit are incredibly commercialised with a shop or spa added to the mix. Not Markree.
You'll Just Love the Chapel
Now if you're on the ball, you might be wondering who built this place.
Were they Catholic? Of course not. So, to marry within this warm and gorgeous pacific blue chapel, you'll probably need to have a chat with your priest.
Humanist, spiritual and civil ceremonies are very popular here too. No matter what, you'll still get to don that long white dress and waltz up the aisle.
The chapel, with it's Ethiopian oak replicating pews favoured by Napoleon's ancestors, makes for the most beautiful backdrop for you to say your vows, pop on the rings and say, 'I do'.
The garden is simply beautiful.
There are no imposing walls, no system of intertwining paths, no wrought-iron gates to enter a secret garden or a perfectly pruned maze.
Instead, the garden at Markree Castle offers a more laid back, closer-to-nature kind of beauty - ideal for creating the most romantic images on the day but also providing enough beauty with it's trees and flower archways to make the space your own.
There's the opportunity to add your own marquee, your own touch to the fencing, the outdoor seating area and so on, and it's perfect without any addition too.
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Further down the huge garden is a river, which I'm told has seen a bride arrive by boat (very brave). The hotel itself has hosted a bride and her horses before also because they too had a very special part to play that day.
The Perfect After Party Touch
Downstairs, in the basement, dungeon - whatever they called those lower quarters back in the day - is not only a beautifully furnished sitting area and dance floor, but also a modern country kitchen, and yes, we're imagining crisp sandwiches at 3am!
Okay, perhaps you're far classier than we are but the point is, it's a truly Irish touch that management has thought of and we're glad for it.
It's a Local Affair
Markree Castle and it's current owners are all about supporting local. Between breakfast, lunch and dinner you're sure to have indulged in the good produce of local farmers and the community. There isn't currently a vegetarian or vegan option on the menu, but the friendly and hospitable team are more than willing to whip up something delicious at all times.
Coming from a woman who's not even all that into marriage or putting a ring on it, Markree is a spot that could, potentially, change one's mind.