Corscaddens find winning formula with historic castles

Winner of the Hospitality Business of the Year award Romantic Castles of Ireland has found success through offering guests the chance to stay and celebrate in some of Ireland’s most stunning castles

Matt Cooper presenting the Hospitality Business of Ireland award to Marnie Corscadden and Howard Corscadden, Romantic Castles of Ireland

Restoring and running historic castles is no easy feat, but the results can be worth it, in terms of satisfaction and, indeed, business. The largest independent and privately owned collection of luxury castles in the country, Romantic Castles of Ireland, is owned and operated by the renowned Irish hotelier family the Corscaddens.

Their commitment to family values throughout their business has earned them Gold in the Hospitality Business of the Year category at the 2023 Family Business Awards.

“We were truly honoured to be among such an esteemed group of family-owned businesses, including the likes of the Sandymount Hotel in Dublin, Granville Hotel in Waterford and many more amazing hotels,” said Howard Corscadden, managing director, Romantic Castles of Ireland.

“Winning was an incredibly proud moment for us as a family, for each of our castles and the collection as an entirety. These awards are also a testament to the commitment of our extended Romantic Castles of Ireland family, the entire team at each property.”

Fact File

Organisation’s Name: Romantic Castles of Ireland

Number of employees: 450+

Turnover: n/a

Why it’s in the news: Winning Gold in the Hospitality Business of Ireland sector at the Family Business Awards

The story of Romantic Castles of Ireland began in 1991 with the purchase of Cabra Castle. Since then, the Corscadden family have gone on to expand the collection, adding Ballyseede Castle in 2005, Bellingham Castle in 2012, and Markree Castle in 2015. Bellingham and Markree are “exclusive hire” venues, while Ballyseede and Cabra are operated as castle hotels.

“Each castle has its own unique story and character, offering guests a diverse range of experiences,” says Corscadden. “From the rugged beauty of coastal castles to the serene surroundings of inland estates, our collection showcases the rich cultural heritage of Ireland. Today we are employing over 450 people across the four properties.”

Weddings, events and hospitality is a competitive sector, and standing out from the crowd requires a commitment to excellence. “One of our core strategies is a relentless focus on upgrading and investing in our properties. This year, at Cabra Castle, we proudly completed a €1.5 million development of The Granary, a dedicated space designed for weddings and events. Similarly, at Ballyseede Castle, we are on the brink of unveiling The Belfry.

“Sustainability is also at the cornerstone of our approach. In 2024, we are excited to announce the addition of a new solar farm at Cabra Castle, a testament to our commitment to eco-friendly practices and reducing our carbon footprint.

“We also understand the importance of fostering a culture where hospitality is not just a job but a fulfilling career. Through awarding the Mitzie Corscadden Scholarship annually to a student from Shannon College of Hotel Management, we aim to contribute to a sustainable and vibrant industry.”

Family is central to Romantic Castles’ success. “Each of the four castles in the collection is family-run and operated – I myself manage Cabra Castle; my sister Marnie and her husband, Rory, manage Ballyseede Castle; my brother Patrick and his wife, Ciara, manage Bellingham Castle; and my brother Adam and his wife, Therese, oversee Markree Castle.”

But it goes further. “Our company is also deeply rooted in family values, shaping the way we conduct business across our four properties,” Corscadden continues. “These values, passed down through generations, emphasise trust, integrity and a commitment to excellence.”

Plus, of course, these castles were once family homes of their own – so the family theme runs through generations at these beautiful venues. “The castles, with their rich histories and architectural marvels, represent a legacy passed down through generations. The familial connection also brings a personal touch to the management of these castles. Families invested in the preservation of these cultural treasures are more likely to prioritise sustainable practices, community engagement and responsible tourism. This familial involvement extends beyond financial considerations to a genuine passion for the well-being of these iconic structures.”