Travel expert: Jacqueline Gifford from Travel + Leisure
The highlight: "I’ll never forget the first time I flew a hawk at Ashford Castle. I was just 26 years old and felt incredibly lucky to even be at the hotel — a real, true-life castle, once owned by the Guinness family."
Tell me more: Flying a hawk at Ashford Castle in County Mayo is indeed a unique experience. The Falconry School here is the oldest of its kind on the island of Ireland and is set in a quaint cottage on the castle grounds. With an instructor, each member of the group watches the hawk take flight from their gloved hand as it ascends into the trees, returning moments later for its meaty reward.
And while flying a hawk is a thrill in itself, Ashford Castle is a stunning location to do it in. Situated along the Wild Atlantic Way, the castle’s spectacular 350-acre estate is nothing short of breathtaking, with a magical setting on the edge of Lough Corrib. Inside, you’ll find an interior lavishly decked in period-style décor – no wonder it has attracted a wealth of famous guests including Pierce Brosnan, Rory McIlroy and Maureen O’Hara.