Our stories from golf holidays that have that little sprinkle of class and luxury.

Rathmullan House Donegal – A Spectacular Golfing Hub

Perched in among the trees beside the beautiful Lough Swilly in County Donegal, a historic country house can claim to be one of the worlds most spectacular hubs for visiting golfers. Rathmullan House, which is a member of the distinguished group of historic hotels and country houses, ‘Ireland’s Blue Book’, is famous for its welcome and fantastic service. With a beach at the bottom of its garden, award winning food and luxurious bedrooms, this hotel has long been held as one of the finest in Ireland.

With 3 of Irelands finest links courses within travelling distance from the hotel, Rathmullan House offers a central hub for the most spectacular golf transfers in the world. This may seem like an unusual claim so Green Golf Travel went to have a look.

Rathmullan House

Rathmullan House

Accommodation at Rathmullan House

Staying at a hotel such as Rathmullan House has that feeling of relaxed luxury and informal quality. Everything about the place oozes class and experience from the warm welcome to the well-oiled dinner service which runs like clockwork with what seems like minimal effort. For golfers who are looking for an informal option, the Tap Room which is in the old cellar of the hotel, serves the local craft ‘Kinnegar Beer’ along with some of the finest pizza we have sampled anywhere. All of this before a good night’s sleep will have you raring to go for the golf ahead.

Rathmullan House to Portsalon – Journey Time 25 Minutes

Portsalon Golf Club is currently ranked as number 22 in Irelands Top 100 golf courses. This lengthy and challenging links layout was redeveloped in 2000 with major investment making it one of Ireland’s finest and most challenging golf courses. The tee shot at the second of Portsalon is surely one of the most spectacular in Irish golf with the dog leg left hit across the bay before a challenging long iron over a stream in front of the green. This hole, like most of the course, is not for the faint hearted and played into the wind is an absolute beast!

Portsalon Links Donegal

The journey to and from Rathmullan House is almost as impressive as the course itself. From Rathmullan House you make your way along the windy roads leading towards Fanad. As you begin to make the ascent up a sharp hillside, the anticipation of what awaits at the top of the climb builds. You will not be disappointed as you reach the top of Knockalla with the view over Ballymastocker Bay widely photographed and appearing on tourism publications around the world.

There are so many points to stop and admire on the journey from Rathmullan to Portsalon, you are at risk of missing your tee time so make sure you leave plenty of time for photo opportunities!

The View on Your Journey to Portsalon Golf Club

Rathmullan House to Rosapenna – Journey Time 45 Minutes

The anticipation of what awaits on day two of your golf trip in North Donegal will have been heightened after the spectacular events on day one. You will not be disappointed when you arrive at Rosapenna for a round at Sandy Hills, the number 24 ranked course in Ireland.

Opened in 2003, Sandy Hills has cemented the position of Rosapenna as Irelands finest resort with hotel and 2 links courses on site. Those spending a week in Donegal would certainly be advised to make Rosapenna their base in a 2 centre stay including Rathmullan House.

Sandy Hills is again a challenging layout with wayward tee shots rewarded with almost unplayable lies in the sharp dunes. As the name suggests, the course weaves its way through the hills and dunes and offers spectacular views of Sheephaven Bay. The sixth hole in particular sticks in the memory with Mount Errigal prominent in the background as you hit your second from the raised fairway.

Rosapenna Resort From the Air

Your trip to Rosapenna from Rathmullan House will see you follow the same route from day 1 over Knockalla and you can admire the spectacular views for a second day. The extra 20 minutes on the journey will not be an issue as you find your way from the Fanad Peninsula to the Rosguill Peninsula. Mulroy Bay separates these two stunning areas and the Harry Blaney Bridge allows you to span the two with panoramic views which take the breath away.

The Harry Blaney Bridge on Your Journey From Rosapenna to Rathmullan

Rathmullan House to Ballyliffin – Journey Time 55 Minutes (By Ferry in Summer Months)

Many golfers would consider the Glashedy Course at Ballyliffin to the jewel in the crown of golf in Donegal. On first observation, it seems that Lough Swilly gets in the way of any intentions to play Ballyliffin while staying at Rathmullan House. This is not the case in the summer however as the ‘Lough Swilly Ferry’ makes the journey one of the most spectacular golf transfers in the world.

Boarding the ferry from Rathmullan Pier, you can step out on deck, stretch the legs and travel across Lough Swilly with spectacular views of Fanad Peninsula and Inishowen peninsula on either side. It has been known during the summer that the ferry is joined by playful dolphins eager to impress passengers making the crossing. This video gives a hint of what you might find while crossing the Swilly:

Dolphins on Your Journey to Ballyliffin

On arrival in Buncrana, you have a short 20 minute drive to Ballyliffin which will feel like much less as you discuss the round ahead at one of Ireland’s finest links courses.

Ballyliffin Golf Club boasts two world class courses with the Old Course ranked number 18 in Ireland and Glashedy currently ranked 11. Sir Nick Faldo came across the hidden gem that was the Old Course in the mid 90’s and proclaimed it as the best links course he had played in Ireland. The six time major winner has since put his stamp on the course with his input on major improvements to the Old Course in 2006.

Sunrise Over Ballyliffin

The Glashedy links which opened in 2002 is one of the most spectacular and challenging links courses in world golf. From the back tees it measures over 7,200 yards and there is sure to be a European Tour event here at some stage in the coming years. This course is the ideal place to end your golf tour in Donegal before you head home to tell your playing partners about the best kept golfing secret in Ireland.

After all of this golf and taking the breathtaking scenery of Donegal, a well earned pint of Kinnegar Beer in the Tap Room at Rathmullan House will round off  the trip nicely.

Green Golf Travel is the premium Golf Tour Operator in Donegal. We arrange self drive packages or private transfers based on your requirements. We will guarantee the best value and highest levels of service for your trip to Ireland. If you would like a bespoke package put together, enquire here.



Ireland’s Blue Book – Top 5 Luxury Golf Breaks


Set up in the mid 70’s by eleven forward thinking small country houses, Ireland’s Blue Book has evolved into the go-to guide for those looking for a stay that oozes quality. This collection of historical hotels, castles, country houses and unique restaurants exists to offer something a little bit different.  Ireland’s Blue Book properties keep the focus on quality rather than quantity.

Each of these hotels and golf courses could fill a warehouse with awards and achievements.  However it is the welcome they offer, aligned with quality that have seen them make our top 5.

With Ireland boasting some of the most renowned yet welcoming golf courses in the world, a golf holiday including a stay in a Blue Book property ensures an experience of a lifetime. Let’s have a look at our five most memorable Blue Book golf breaks.

1) Bushmills Inn – Royal Portrush & Portstewart

history and luxury at Bushmills

Waking up in Bushmills is like waking up in the heart of golfing paradise. Parts of this historic hotel date back to 1608 and many a bottle of Bushmills’ world famous whiskey has been poured at the Inn since. With Giants Causeway and the Bushmills distillery on the doorstep, you needn’t worry how the non-golfers will pass the time in this incredible part of the world.

These elements are just added bonuses to compliment the offering that avid golfers will enjoy. Royal Portrush will host the British Open in 2019 and it is a safe bet that the world’s best golfers will choose Bushmills as their base. As if that was not enough, Portstewart is just a skip along the coast as is Castleknock, which is a true hidden gem on the North Coast. A trip to Ballyliffin in Donegal will round off the trip nicely to a course which many have whispered, is Rory McIlroy’s favourite in Ireland.
Links golf doesn’t get much better than this and when Rory and co come to visit for the Irish Open at Portstewart in 2017, the golfing boom on the north coast will surely be in full swing.

2) Rathmullan House – Rosapenna & Portsalon

Rosapenna Golf

Rosapenna Golf

Hidden among the woods on the shores of Lough Swilly, you will find a country house hotel that will last long in your memory. Opened as a hotel in the mid 1960’s, Rathmullan House dates back to the 18th century and has had an illustrious list of owners over the years. Today the house is a haven of relaxation and luxury with open fires in each lounge, luxurious bedrooms and some of the finest food, locally sourced and served in the Cook & Gardener restaurant.

Golfers staying at Rathmullan House can take the short drive over the spectacular Knockalla Hill to Portsalon Golf Club which is certainly one of Ireland’s hidden gems. This challenging links layout has enjoyed major investment in the past few years and is now considered one of the finest links courses in Ireland. What makes this place even more spectacular is that due to its location, you will find clear fairways on most days and green fees at a fraction of what you could expect on a course of this calibre.

No golfing trip to Donegal would be complete without a trip to Rosapenna and a round of golf at either the Sandy Hills or Old Tom Morris course. Two championship links courses which are recognised among the best in Ireland and you can marvel at the unspoiled Donegal scenery en route from Rathmullan House.

3) Mount Juliet

Mount Juliet Golf

Mount Juliet Golf

‘”The greens are perfect and the fairways are immaculate,” were the words of Tiger Woods on his way to winning the World Golf Championship at Mount Juliet in 2002. This Jack Nicklaus design is considered by many to be the best parkland courses in Ireland and few low handicap golfers would disagree. The Paul McGinley golf academy will open here in 2017 as part of a major investment programme which has been underway in the past few years.

As if having a world class golf course designed by the most decorated major winner of all time was not enough, Mount Juliet boasts luxury accommodation dating back to the 18th century. Those looking for absolute opulence can make themselves comfortable in the manor house. Golf groups looking for comfort rather than luxury, will be delighted with the accommodation in Hunters Yard which is also set for major investment in 2017.

4) Killarney Royal – Waterville & Tralee

relax in luxury at Killarney Royal

Killarney Royal Hotel

Killarney, without doubt, ranks among the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland. On any given day a walk down the main street of this bustling town on the shores of Lough Leane, will allow you to hear accents and languages from all corners of the globe. Killarney Royal has an air of luxury without being stuffy and serves a breakfast that will set you up for 18 holes at least!

By day you can make your way to two of Ireland’s most recognised and popular links courses at Waterville and Tralee. By night, make your way into Killarney town and sample one of what seems like hundreds of bustling pubs and restaurants. If you enjoy a lively night and fantastic golf, Killarney is the town to visit.

5) Ice House Mayo – Enniscrone & Carne

beautiful river view at Ice House Mayo

Ice House River View

Situated right on the shore of the Moy Estuary, the Ice House is a unique mix of old and new. Golfers will enjoy the outdoor hot tub to sooth the muscles after a day on the links at Enniscrone or Carne. The original building at the Ice House was built a decade before the famine in 1836 and has since been modernised with over €15m invested since 2004. This is now a boutique hotel with a world class spa and outstanding cuisine.

Take a 15 minute drive north of the Ice House and you will find yourself at Enniscrone. Since Eddie Hackett extended this challenging links course to 18 holes in 1974, it has been recognised among the top 20 courses in Ireland. Be prepared to battle the elements coming in off the Atlantic Ocean, but this is what makes golf on the Wild Atlantic Way what it is. A trip to Carne Golf Links from the Ice House will take the guts of an hour but once you arrive you will be glad you made the effort. This is another Eddie Hackett masterpiece and many consider it to be his finest piece of work.

After a couple of days on these wild links courses on the West of Ireland, book yourself in for a massage in the renowned spa at the Ice House. You will have earned it!