//Leaderboard_AboveComments_BTF //Leaderboard_Bottom_BTF //Leaderboard_Middle_ATF //Non-Sticky_Right_1st_ATF //Sticky_Right_BTF //Video_InFeed

Our Awesome Planet

Our Awesome Planet

Menu
October 26, 2017

KILKEA CASTLE: A Castle Birthday for My Queen (and our First Impressions of Ireland)! @KilkeaCastle

October 26, 2017

KILKEA CASTLE: A Castle Birthday for My Queen (and our First Impressions of Ireland)! @KilkeaCastle





TBEX Summit-17.jpg

In Castledermot, County Kildare, Ireland (one hour away from Dublin), you'll find KILKEA CASTLE. It's a majestic 12th century castle that's been transformed into a luxury hotel.

We celebrated Rache's birthday in this beautiful place--befitting of my queen and love of my life--on our first-ever trip to Ireland. It was really magical and definitely one of the best travel experiences we'll cherish forever. 

Here is a photo essay of our stay at Kilkea Castle...

 

The-Kilkea-Castle-Experience

Once the medieval stronghold of the Fitzgeralds, earls of Kildare, the Castle was built by Hugh de Lacy for one of Strongbow's Norman Noblemen, Walter de Riddlesford. Today it stands proudly ready to extend a five-star welcome to travelers from around the globe.
 
Set on 180 acres of its own wonderful woodland, gardens and golf course, Kilkea Castle enchants from the moment you drive down the beech-lined avenue overlooking the Killeshin Hills, only minutes from the ancient Mullaghreelan Woods.” (Kilkea Castle Website)

KILKEA CASTLE
Kilkea, Kilkea Demesne, Castledermot, Co. Kildare
Telephone: +353 59 9145600,  (U.S.): +1 (855) 9 KILKEA
Email: info@kilkeacastle.ie
Facebook: Kilkea Castle Kildare
Instagram: @kilkeacastle
Websitehttps://www.kilkeacastle.ie/


Booking.com

 TBEX Summit at Kilkea Castle

TBEX Summit-46.jpg

The driveway to the castle is lined with trees and has a beautiful view of the golf course on each side.

 

TBEX Summit-18.jpg

Kilkea Castle just finished its renovations, and we had the privilege of being among the first guests to experience it.

 

Kilkea Castle-17.jpg

The look and feel of the castle, including this armored "guard," transported us back to the medieval times. 

 

Kilkea Castle-16.jpg

The beautifully maintained gardens are perfect for leisurely strolls. (I'm sure these would look even more lovely in the springtime.)

 

Kilkea Castle-15.jpg

We all gathered by the fireplace in the main living room while we waited for the other travel bloggers to join us.

 

Kilkea Castle-22.jpg

This was one of the best mushroom soups we had during our trip. It kept us warm and in the mood for wonderful conversations.

 

TBEX Summit-3.jpg

That was an awesome TBEX Summit held in the castle, with a collaborative discussion among brands, tourism boards, travel bloggers, and TBEX to push the Travel Blogging Industry to the next level.

(Check out TBEX Summit Agenda)

 

TBEX Summit-1.jpg

Gary Arndt capped the summit with an interesting model on "How to Monetize Travel Blogs" based on his personal experience.

 

Kilkea Castle-12.jpg

Although there were elevators, we enjoyed going up the charming stairs. We couldn't help but notice the thickness of the walls as we glanced at the windows that overlooked the courtyard.  

 

Countess of Kildare (Room)

Kilkea Castle-3.jpg

We stayed in the Countess of Kildare room--a simple but royal way to celebrate Rache's birthday. :) 

 

Kilkea Castle-4.jpg

It took us 20 hours to travel all the way from Manila, but it felt just like an overnight trip because we left 7pm Manila time and arrived 7am the next day in Kilkea Castle, Ireland.

 

Kilkea Castle-7.jpg

We were hungry when we arrived; it was sweet of the staff to serve us some fruits, pastries, and canapes with champagne.

 

Kilkea Castle-5.jpg

This was the view from our room.

 

Kilkea Castle-10.jpg

There was a bathtub/shower and a toilet with a wooden seat in the spacious bathroom. The hot and cold water worked well.

 

Kilkea Castle-9.jpg

Molton Brown bath and body products were provided.

Trivia: Molton Brown was given a Royal Warrant in 2013 as a "Supplier of Toiletries" to none other than Her Majesty the Queen.

 

TBEX Summit-13.jpg 

We received a Cadbury milk tray as a welcome gift, along with...

 

Whisky-and-Cupcakes

...rich and creamy cupcakes, personally written notes, and mini-bottles of Writer's Tears Irish Whiskey that came in innovative packaging. 

 

Archery

Kilkea Castle-34.jpg

Trying our hand at archery on the castle grounds was exciting--it was like being on the set of Game of Thrones.

 

TBEX Summit-26.jpg

If you ever get to try it, keep these tips in mind: Make sure your arms are straight and steady as you grip the curves of the bow. Position yourself for the proper stance. Pull the arrow while sighting the bullseye and release the arrow on your exhale. You need endurance to hold on to the bow, specially for the ladies.

 

Lullymore Peatlands

Kilkea Castle-36.jpg

At Lullymore, we learned a lot about the Irish peatlands in Kildare county and how bogs (a type of peatland) were formed. We were shocked to learn that bogs can naturally preserve bodies and that discoveries of ancient mummies called bog bodies have been made through the years.

 

bog

It was also interesting to know that peat from bogs can be packed into wood-like form and used as a biofuel.

  

TBEX Summit-34.jpg

We even got to meet the bog pony and horses of the peatlands.

For more info, visit http://www.lullymoreheritagepark.com/

 

Falconry

Falconry

Have you ever had a close encounter with a falcon before?

 

TBEX Summit-36.jpg

It was awesome interacting with these fascinating creatures--falcons, owls, and hawks--with the historic castle as the backdrop.

 

Kilkea Castle-45.jpg

We felt like kids again, smitten with the cute owls and their mesmerizing eyes.

 

Champagne Golf

Campagne-Golf

We played a little game where the first person to hit the bottle or get the ball closest to the hole would win the champagne. Guess who won?

 

Kilkea Castle-66.jpg

Tours of the golf course can be availed to fully appreciate the grand landscape and see the different holes...

 

TBEX Summit-52.jpg

...the most beautiful of which is their signature 18th hole, with the castle in the background.

 

Other Castle Activities

Kilkea Castle-54.jpg

You can also go fishing, walk along, or go on a lazy cruise on the River Greese.

 

Holly's

Have you ever seen real holly berries before? We've only come across them as plastic replicas on Christmas wreaths over here in Asia.  

 

TBEX Summit-57.jpg

Listen to the music of the Irish Warpiper around the castle grounds; it is beautiful to hear. People are often curious about one thing though: Does the warpiper wear anything under his kilt?

 

Hermione's Restaurant

TBEX Summit-65.jpg

The dinner conversations were endless, specially during this meal paired with O'Hara Craft Beer. (see Dinner Menu

The menu specified the number from the list of 14 food ingredients that must be declared as allergens in the EU countries:

1. Cereals containing gluten, namely: wheat (such as spelt and khorasan wheat), rye, barley, oats or their hybridised strains, and products thereof,
2. Crustaceans and products thereof
3. Eggs and products thereof
4. Fish and products thereof
5. Peanuts and products thereof
6. Soybeans and products thereof
7. Milk and products thereof (including lactose)
8. Nuts, namely: almonds, hazelnut, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia or Queensland nuts, and products thereof,
9. Celery and products thereof
10. Mustard and products thereof
11. Sesame seeds and products thereof
12. Sulphur dioxide and sulphites at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/litre in terms of the total SO2
13. Lupin and products thereof
14. Molluscs and products thereof

 

TBEX Summit-60.jpg
Citrus Cured Wild Irish Seatrout Goatsbridge Trout Caviar on Toasted Sourdough Crouton (1, 8, 14)

The seafood in Ireland is topnotch and has a bit of sweetness when fresh, specially the ones sourced from the cold Atlantic Ocean.

 

TBEX Summit-58.jpg

Complemented by O'Hara's Irish Pale Ale

The Irish love their beers, specially the craft ones (like O'Hara's) with their own Irish version of the IPA. 

 

TBEX Summit-63.jpg

Wood Roasted Quail with Herb Butter, Pickled Wild Mushrooms, and Dave Heffernan's foraged Greens (1, 14, 9) complemented by O'Hara's Irish Lager

I loved the roasted taste of the quail served with fresh greens that were locally harvested within a few kilometer radius from the castle.

 

TBEX Summit-70.jpg

Pan Seared Wild Seabass Smoked Bacon Red Chicory, Irish Baby Kale, Red Wine Sauce, Potato Puree (8, 14, 4, 9) Complemented by Irish Stout

We enjoyed this seabass served on a bed of charred chicory and baby kale with red wine sauce. The pan-seared crust on one side of the fish proved to be delectable.

 

TBEX Summit-67.jpg

Slow Roasted Seamus O'Hagan's Beef Fillet Charred Leeks, Guinness & Oyster Pie (1, 14, 6, 7) complemented by O'Hara's Irish Stout

Irish Beef is underrated, but I find it one of the best we've tasted because it's grass-fed. You can really taste the flavor of the meat when you chew it.

I like the Irish Stout of Ohara's more than Guinness because it has a bolder flavor, with espresso and smoky bacon notes that perfectly pair with the meat.

  

TBEX Summit-71.jpg

Caramelized Apple Tart with French Biscuit, Green Apple Jelly, Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream (1,4,7,14) complemented by O'Hara's Leann Follain

The serving size of the food is quite big and can be shared by two Asians.

 

Kilkea Castle Breakfast

TBEX Summit-93.jpg

Breakfast in Kilkea Castle was one of the top meals we had during our entire trip in Ireland because of  the ambiance and careful selection of each breakfast item included in the spread.

 

TBEX Summit-75.jpg

Our Irish Breakast usually consisted of a buffet of breads, pastries, fruits, cheeses, and yogurt before the main breakfast dish.

 

Strawberry

The jams and spreads were served in a special dispenser. We usually started our breakfast with fresh strawberries dipped in hazelnut spread.

 

TBEX Summit-78.jpg 

Every time we took a slice of the honeycomb, we would get distracted by the view of the sprawling gardens. 

 

TBEX Summit-85.jpg

We couldn't get enough of the Irish cheeses--we ate as many as we could to start the day on a happy note.

 

TBEX Summit-86.jpg

Fresh mixed berries and yogurt made a wonderful pairing for breakfast!

 

Kilkea Castle Goodbye-5.jpg

We liked starting breakfast early so we could linger longer and enjoy a relaxed meal with a view of the 18th hole.

 

TBEX Summit-89.jpg

Our first taste of Irish Full Breakfast at Kilkea Castle was quite memorable, especially the sausages and cherry tomatoes. It was the best breakfast plate we had in our two-week trip in Ireland!

 

TBEX Summit-92.jpg

My favorite was the Salmon Eggs Benedict with the poached egg and light and creamy hollandaise sauce.

  

Athy, County Kildare

TBEX Summit-106.jpg
A 15-minute road trip to Athy was just lovely! We took the one-hour Athy Boat tour along the River Barrow. We passed by houses where the skipper was greeted by the owners.  Such a small and friendly neighborhood!

Note: If you have more time, a three-hour ride is also available.

 

TBEX Summit-98.jpg

While on the boat tour, we were served delectable scones with fruit jams, along with some biscuits and coffee. We weren't able to take any photos of them because we were busy appreciating the scenery.

 

TBEX Summit-101.jpg

Locks (like this one in the photo) are used to make the river more easily navigable. The boat crew manually work on opening the lock the same way it was done centuries ago. One-two-three push!

For more info, visit http://www.athyboattours.ie/

 

TBEX Summit-94.jpg

Outside the Athy Heritage Centre-Museum is the statue of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, a man known for his leadership, bravery and courage. He was an explorer who joined Antarctic expeditions. It was with the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition that he achieved more recognition and inspired many on how he was able to survive and bring back his team against all odds.

Shackleton was born in Kilkea House, County Kildare. 

 

TBEX Summit-109.jpg

Visit the Athy Heritage Centre-Museum to see the Ernest Shackleton exhibition (including this replica of Shackleton's 15-foot ship, the Endurance) and learn more about Athy, a "designated heritage town of Ireland."

For more info, visit http://www.athyheritagecentre-museum.ie/

 

TBEX Summit-172.jpg

We love the fact that Ireland is predominantly Catholic and has beautiful churches where masses are held regularly. Thankfully, we were able to attend the 7pm mass.

(See: Cathedral of the Assumption Mass Schedule)

 

TBEX Summit-171.jpg

The masses are shorter (around 45 minutes) because there's no singing. Usually, it's the older generation that attends.

I miss the full-house Sunday masses in Manila with a full choir singing, complete with readers and commentators.

   

Castle Bar

Castle-Bar

Back in Kilkea, we loved hanging out in the castle bar before dinner. With a glass of Guinness, their signature cocktail, or their Writer's Tear's Whiskey in hand, we mingled with the crowd.

 

Fine Dining at Kilkea Castle

TBEX Summit-183.jpg

We had a memorable fine dining dinner hosted by the owner of Kilkea Castle. It was a simple yet elegant affair. (Those are real lighted candles on the table!)

(see Kilkea Castle Dinner Menu)

 

TBEX Summit-180.jpg

Lobster Cappuccino, Horse Radish & Roast Beef Toast  (1, 4, 5, 14)

The dinner started with lobster bisque and roast beef tapas.

 

TBEX Summit-181.jpg

Salad of Irish Lobster, Brown Cab Jelly, Avocado, chilly Yogurt Cream, Yuzu Cloud (4, 5, 13, 14)

I liked how the playfulness of the salad with Yuzu foam, bits of avocado, and fresh mini greens didn't take the spotlight away from the Irish Lobster, the star of the dish.

 

TBEX Summit-185.jpg

Potato-crusted Fillet of Cod, smoked Celeriac Cake, Pea Puree, Wild Irish Mussel, Saffron & Apple Vinegar Crisp (4, 8, 9, 6, 14)

I loved the combination of the cod with the pea puree. The mussel and the saffron & apple vinegar crisp helped break the monotony of the dish.

 

TBEX Summit-186.jpg

Wild Atlantic Lamb Cannon with Salty Hay and Seaweed Ash, Braised Lamb & Barley Stew, Seared Liver, Beet and Balsamic Glazed Shallot, Potato Puree (14, 4)

The best lamb I tasted on this trip! Amidst the different ingredients and sauces, the flavor of the lamb meat stood out.

 

TBEX Summit-187.jpg

This Mencia-grape wine from Bierzo, Spain pairs well with lamb. It's the sort that grows on you as you drink the night away.

 

TBEX Summit-189.jpg

White Chocolate Sphere, Textured Passion Fruit and White Chocolate, Pistachio, Blood Orange Sorbet (2, 3, 4, 7, 14)

The sweet treats were good, but I think we've had better desserts in Manila.

 

Final Thoughts

SAM_102_0336.jpg

Our short but memorable stay in Kilkea Castle is probably the most romantic travel experience I've had with Rache in our 14 years of marriage (to date).

It's also historic because of the successful TBEX Summit collaboration with Travel Brands, DMOs, and Travel Bloggers that pushes the boundaries of the Travel Blogging industry.

I actually have a harder time blogging about an awesome experience like this because I want to honor the memory, but sometimes it's hard to find the right words to say and not exaggerate. 

 

 Kilkea Castle Goodbye-9.jpg

I'm amazed with the Kilkea Castle team because they are lean and mean but never fail to deliver luxurious service befitting an Irish Castle. 

There's no reception in the castle, there's no local telephone system either, but you feel that your needs are anticipated and your requests are addressed promptly.

Thank you to Aidan, Catherine, and the rest of the Kilkea Castle team for a job well done!

 

Kilkea Castle-56.jpg

I can sum up our first impressions of Ireland with these three insights:

1) Irish people are like Filipino people.

Besides having a predominantly Catholic background, they are a happy and hospitable people, with lots of stories to tell and a distinct sense of humor.

Just as an aside, we are catching up with our Irish brothers on our consumption of beers, craft spirits, and whiskey.

2) The Culinary Scene is underrated, but I believe it's one of the best Culinary Centers in the EU.

The food is as good as in New Zealand where the ingredients are sustainably sourced within the locality, the beef is grass-fed, and the seafood is excellent, specially the salmon, oysters, and mussels coming from the Wild Atlantic seas.

The Irish butter is utterly to die for and among the best in the world, particularly the hand-churned butter from the local farm. 

3) It's what you expect from a travel destination plus more.

I expected the natural views to be stunning, the bar scene to be wild, and the people to be welcoming and friendly. As I found out, Ireland is a country that lives up to what it's known for, where you get to discover and appreciate the place, the culture, and the people more with each passing day you're there. The next thing you know, you discover that you've fallen in love with the place completely. I know I did.

 

KILKEA CASTLE
Kilkea, Kilkea Demesne, Castledermot, Co. Kildare
Telephone: +353 59 9145600,  (U.S.): +1 (855) 9 KILKEA
Email: info@kilkeacastle.ie
Facebook: Kilkea Castle Kildare
Instagram: @kilkeacastle
Websitehttps://www.kilkeacastle.ie/

Live an Awesome Life,

anton  signature

Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com  

Disclosure: Our TBEX Summit @ Kilkea Castle is courtesy of Fáilte Ireland. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. 

P.S. Ireland is home to the world-renowned Waterford Crystals!

Waterford Crystals-10.jpg

We got to appreciate an interactive display of Waterford Crystals that you would often see in chandeliers around Ireland.

 

Waterford Crystals-3.jpg

We witnessed first-hand how the Master Cutter etched details into the crystal with precision.

 

Waterford-Trophies

Waterford Crystal Trophies are the most coveted trophies in some of the major sports competitions in the world.

 

TBEX Summit-156.jpg

My favorite souvenir from our Ireland trip is a personalized Waterford Crystal shamrock!


Booking.com

comments powered by Disqus