History of Belleek Castle
Belleek Castle was built between 1825 and finished in 1831 for the cost of £10,000. The building was commissioned by Sir Arthur Francis Knox-Gore for the cost of £10,000 and . The manor house was designed by the prolific architect John Benjamin Keanes, and the Neo-Gothic architecture met the taste of the time, when Medieval styles became fashionable again. The house is thought to have replaced an earlier structure & is named after the original Belleek Castle, a 13th Tower House Castle situated on the banks of the River Moy. Francis lived at Belleek Castle with his wife Sarah and his 9 children until his death in 1873. According to his wishes he was buried in Belleek Demense. A striking Neo-Gothic Monument, designed by James Franklin Fuller, now marks his grave and is situated in the middle of Belleek Woods. It is said that his wife & favourite horse are both buried beside him. His eldest son Charles Knox-Gore inherited & became the 2nd Baronet. Charles died without issue in 1890 & was also buried in Belleek Demense beside the River Moy, and his dog Phizzie was buried beside him. The house was inherited by his sister Matilda who married Major General William Boyd Saunders of Torquay. Their grandson William Arthur Cecil Saunders-Knox-Gore sold the house in 1942.
The house was later purchased by the Beckett family who intended on converting the Manor House into a stud farm but later sold the house. Mayo County Council purchased the house in the 1950's and used the Manor House as a hospital & military barracks and was later abandoned it. It was at this time that Mayo County Council considered taking the roof of the building to avoid paying rates. Fortunately Marshall Doran, a merchant navy officer and an avid collector of fossils and medieval armour, acquired the run down property in 1961, restored it and opened it as a hotel in 1970. Some of the rooms are in 19th style, whilst most of the interior design has a medieval and nautical touch. Marshall, being quite a craftsman, did a lot of the work himself, assisted by John Mullen, and supervised the restoration expertly. Today, the Castle is managed by Marshall’s son Paul Doran and Ms. Maya Nikolaeva.
Guided Tour of Belleek Castle & The Marshall Doran Collection
A unique Museum Experience in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland
The Belleek Castle Tour includes an explanation of the origins of the Castle and the history of its former owners, the Knox-Gore family, the Earls of Arran. Learn about the life of Marshall Doran an adventurer, sailor & smuggler who restored Belleek Castle in the 1960's. Visitors will see private dining rooms, decorated in opulent romantic style, as well as rooms designed by Marshal such as the Medieval Banquet Hall, the Spanish Armada Bar and the Tween Deck. The highlight of the tour is The Marshall Doran Collection, which is one of the finest collections of Jurassic fossils, Medieval Weapons and Medieval armour in Ireland. Visitors will also see the Grace O’Malley "The Pirate Queen's" bed, the last wolf shot in Connaught and other curiosities.
Featured in "Ireland The Best 100 Places" by John McKenna & Sally McKenna.
"Somebody will make a movie about Marshall Doran someday soon. The content is there: a mysterious identity, a thirst for travel, sailing and collecting, shipwrecks and salvage, suits of armour and executioner's swords, the bed of a pirate queen, the the purchase by Mr Doran, in 1961, of a neo-Gothic pile, Belleek Castle, that was fast fading into ruin." ........... "Mr Doran collected precious fossils and armaments, weapons and artefacts, and brought them to Ballina, and you can see the at close-quarters, downstairs in the dungeons of this friendly, charming castle, where you can also stay overnight, and eat dinner."
Featured in the Top 25 Small Wonders in Ireland 2019 in the Irish Independent by Pól Ó Conghaile & Nicola Brady.
“Yes, it’s a hotel. But that doesn’t even begin to describe the Tardis-like offering at Belleek Castle, a Blue Book bolthole set by Ballina Woods. A tour will take you through the manor house, from quirky Spanish Armada Bar and ‘Tween Deck’ to the Marshal Doran Collection, where exhibits range from Grace O’Malley’s four-poster bed to the last wolf shot in Connaught.”
Pól Ó Conghaile
Belleek Castle Museum is the holder of the Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. Click the icon below to read our reviews on Tripadvisor.
We are now open Tuesdays & Thursday's for guided tours. Private Tours for large groups can be arranged by appointment only. Tours can be booked online via email at [email protected] or by phone on 096 22400
Family ticket €30
(Group & family discounts are available )
We also take school tours and educational programs for children, by appointment only.