Since New York Stewart International Airport started providing service to Ireland via Norwegian Airlines in July 2017, the airport has seen significant growth in passenger volume, going from 275,421 in 2016 to 448,323 in 2017. And while we’ve heard stories of the Irish flocking to Newburgh to catch a shuttle to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets for bargains, we thought we’d focus on a more luxurious trip when planning a visit in the other direction across the pond.
With lower fares from Stewart than NYC airports, you can splurge a little on accommodations, especially if you go for a long weekend. We recommend flying into Shannon, in western Ireland, so you can stay at two castle hotels with world-class spas and golf courses, and be close to the Cliffs of Moher (Ireland’s most visited natural tourist attraction) and the city of Galway. With an early morning arrival into Shannon, you can do both the Cliffs and Galway on your drive to the village of Cong, where you will find Ashford Castle, voted one of the best resorts in Europe in Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards in 2017.
Although Ashford Castle history dates back to 1228, you will find every modern convenience in the hotel, which reopened in 2015 after undergoing a $75 million, two-year renovation by new owners Red Carnation Hotels. While many stateside hotels will claim to treat you like royalty, this place really knows what it’s doing. It has been a favorite destination for real-life royalty (such as George V of the U.K. and Princess Grace of Monaco) as well as Hollywood royalty such as John Wayne (and the rest of the cast of The Quiet Man, which was filmed in Cong) and Brad Pitt.
Enjoy fine dining at the Earl of Thomond Restaurant at Dromoland Castle; Photo provided by Dromoland Castle
You may even decide to splurge a bit more and extend your long weekend. We recommend finishing your trip at Dromoland Castle (which was also voted a Top Resort in Europe by Conde Nast Travelers’ readers in 2017), only 15 minutes from Shannon Airport. In addition to the luxurious accommodations, golf, and spa, Dromoland also features award-winning dining, with Executive Chef David McCann at the helm since 1995. Not to be missed: their exquisite afternoon tea.
Clockwise from top left: the Connaught Room, the Dungeon Bar, the Junior Suite, and the Junior Stateroom at Ashford Castle