The origins of Markree Castle date back to the 17th Century where the Cooper family acquired the Markree Castle estate under the 1662 Act of Settlement of King Charles II. At this time, it was not a castle as such, but more a fort guarding a ford on the Unshin river. By the end of the 17th Century, with Markree Castle officially now a manor, the Cooper family had become one of the biggest land owners in the country. In 1727, following the purchase of Lord Collooney’s estate, the family were presiding over 40,000 acres, with Markree Castle at its peak. In keeping with the expansion, Markree Castle at this stage was transformed from a fort into a much more comfortable manor house.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the architect Francis Johnson, a very well-known architect, was employed to extend, improve and enlarge Markree Castle. Johnson had the GPO in Dublin, the castellated gate to the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, the chapel in Dublin castle and Charleville Castle all amongst his notable work. This major remodel and expansion are the basis for Markree Castle as it is today. In 1834, work was begun on an Observatory in Markree Castle. This included the world’s first cast-iron telescope, with the largest refractor lens in the world at the time. In 1848, a minor planet or asteroid called Metis was discovered in Markree Castle’s observatory, the first and only asteroid discovered in Ireland up until 2008.

By the early 20th Century, the land owned by the Cooper family was reduced from 40,000 acres to 5,000. This century was unkind on Markree Castle, particularly during the Irish Civil War 1921-1922, where considerable damage was done to the castle, and left virtually unused up to 1947. In the 1980’s, Charles Cooper and his wife Mary became the 10th generation of the Cooper family to live in the castle. At this point, Charles who worked in hotel management, along with his wife decided to renovate the virtually derelict castle into a hotel. In October 1990, they even had legendary singer Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter stay in the now castle hotel.

In 2015, Charles and Mary decided to retire and sold the castle to the Corscadden Family, a renowned hotelier family, to add to their Romantic Castles of Ireland collection which also includes Ballyseede Castle in Co. Kerry, Bellingham Castle in Co. Louth and Cabra Castle in Co. Cavan.

A fairy-tale pairing of elegance and exemplary service, Markree Castle has been lovingly and extensively renovated to the highest standard by the Corscadden’s. It reopened in March 2017 and is now taking reservations for overnight stays as well as exclusive hire so you also have the opportunity to be King or Queen of your very own castle.

Today, it is hard to imagine a destination with more romance, character and elegance than Markree Castle. This historic Irish castle venue is nestled in the stunning North West of Ireland in County Sligo on the route of the world famous Wild Atlantic Way. Markree Castle, with its relaxed atmosphere, picture-perfect 500-acre grounds and luxury accommodation, provides the ideal location for that truly unforgettable castle experience you have always dreamed of.

To read the full history of Markree Castle, download our History Brochure CLICK HERE.