• Forbes Travel Guide has just announced its Star Rating winners for 2021 and, for the second consecutive year, Ashford Castle is the only hotel in Ireland to achieve a Five-Star ranking in the annual honours list, the top rating possible and the ultimate gold standard in hospitality.   Ashford Castle is part of an elite group of luxury hotels around the world that have earned this coveted Five-Star Forbes Travel Guide (FTG) ranking.

    Niall Rochford, general manager at Ashford Castle said: “After a tremendously difficult year for the hospitality industry, the team as Ashford Castle couldn’t have asked for better news at this time. This is arguably the most coveted accolade for any hotel and receiving the news that we have retained our Five-Star rating in the 2021 Forbes Travel Guide is hugely rewarding. We truly have the best team and I couldn’t be more proud.”

    Forbes’ team of inspectors travels the world to assess hotels, restaurants and spas based on 900 objective standards that determine its coveted annual Star Ratings, paying particular attention to the provision of exceptional service.  The top award from Forbes is given only to properties that meet more than 500 service and physical criteria during anonymous inspections, showing "an impeccable standard of excellence in hospitality.” The Forbes Travel Guide team visits every property that it Star Rates, anonymously as a paying guest. Every Star Rating is earned through an objective, independent process and no one can buy or solicit a rating under any circumstance.

     Commending Ashford Castle on its win, FTG referenced how the hotel had achieved global gold standards during such a challenging year for the hospitality industry, in which Ashford Castle continued to demonstrate its wonderful five-star service and hospitality to guests and particularly, despite the global pandemic.

    “Our 2021 award winners are a testament to the resiliency of the hospitality industry,” said Filip Boyen, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide. “During an unprecedented time, Ashford Castle along with other top properties across the world adapted to numerous adversities, all while maintaining high service levels and ensuring the health security of their guests and staff.” 

    With 83 rooms and suites, together with a hideaway cottage, Ashford Castle is set in a spectacular 350-acre estate in Cong, Co. Mayo and is part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection and a member of Leading Hotels of the World. 

    Forbes Travel Guide started in 1958 as Mobil Travel Guide, a guidebook for US motorists. Creating the original Five-Star rating system, it is the only independent, global rating agency for luxury hospitality.  Providing reviews and ratings for more than 60 years, Forbes Travel Guide is the oldest travel guide in the United States and its inspection process is regarded as the gold standard in hospitality. 


  • Funding of 70,000 euro has been secured for flood defence measures in Cong village.

    The news has been confirmed today by local Fianna Fail councillor Damien Ryan.

    He told Midwest News that the funding will be used to erect barriers, a flood protection wall and to raise the road in vulnerable areas of the village.

    The works will get underway by next month, and he said it is an ideal time for such works, as water levels are so low.

  • Just under400 customers are without power in the Cong area this morning.

    According to ESB Powercheck there are 368 customers without power and the estimated restoration time is 1.30pm this afternoon. That figure is down from 1000 earlier.

  • Staff at one of Ireland's best-known hotels are very excited about welcoming back guests from today.

    Ashford Castle in Cong is rolling out the red carpet, after being closed for 154 days.

    It comes as hotels, B&Bs, hostels and self-catering accommodation across the region reopen their doors for the first time this year, in a further easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

    Niall Rochford, general manager of the 5-star Ashford Castle told Midwest News they're really looking forward to welcoming back guests.....

  • Ashford Castle in Cong has been voted the number one resort hotel in the UK and Ireland by readers of leading US travel magazine Travel & Leisure.

    Readers praised its beautiful property and the "magical experience" of the 13th-century Mayo castle.

    Seven other Irish hotels made the top 10 list.

    Tourism Ireland says the accolades are extremely welcome as the industry looks to plan for the recovery of overseas tourism.




  • The junction at Lisloughery in Cong, close to the main entrance of Ashford Castle,  is in urgent need of upgrading according to local Fianna Fail councillor Damien Ryan.

    He described the busy junction as “lethal” and called on Mayo County Council to prioritise it in the 2020 roads work programme, at a recent meeting of Claremorris/ Swinford Municipal District.

    He told the meeting that this junction is a line in the sand for him, either works get underway on upgrading it immediately, or he as an elected councillor, will refuse to support next year’s road works programme.

  • Ashford Castle and sister hotel, The Lodge at Ashford are the first hotels in Ireland where guests can avail of an onsite Covid-19 PCR test, with results available within 12 hours.

    Working in partnership with Communicare Medical Supplies and available now, tests will be carried out by a medical professional in a dedicated test room, or in the guest’s own room if preferred, and results and certs will be issued by email.

     Niall Rochford, general manager of the two hotels in Cong, says the convenience of being able to take a PCR test while on holiday will really help domestic market guests who want the reassurance of a negative test before returning home or going back to work.  However, the test service will be of particular benefit to international guests. International guests will be welcome from July 19, all of whom will require a negative PCR test if travelling onwards or heading home after their holiday in Ireland.

    Communicare Medical Supplies is an experienced provider and is headquartered in Mayo, and advocates a testing approach that aims to get as many individuals tested in a timeframe that is as short and safe as possible.

    Ashford Castle and The Lodge at Ashford were the first hotels in Ireland to be awarded the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR™ accreditation, for the implementation of rigorous protocols in response to biorisk situations, such as Covid-19.   The international accreditation verifies that both Ashford Castle and The Lodge implement best practices to prepare for, respond to and recover from pandemics, ensuring that the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention are employed.

    Bookings can be made at each hotel’s respective Guest Services department in advance of or during a stay. For more information and costs   /           

  • A design team have drawn up plans to with safety concners at Gortacurra Cross near Cong in south Mayo.

    That was confirmed by local Fine Gael Cllr Patsy O’Brien.

    Cllr O’Brien says while he welcomes the upgrade works that have taken place on the R345 road, many local residents had raised concerns about safety at Gortacurra Cross.

    He says that a design has been drawn up for it and some funding has been made available.

  • A Galway West TD has strongly criticised changes to the schedule of bus services from Galway to Cong.

    Fianna Fail TD Eamon O’Cuiv says the changes were made without a full consultation with local people.

    Deputy O’Cuiv says while he welcomes the fact that there will be a small number of additional services, changes to the timetable were brought in without any proper consultation with local people.

    He says the new service will also require passengers to change bus in Headford, which will increase the journey time.

    Deputy O’Cuiv has also suggested a local link bus service which could link Corr na Mona, Clockbrack and Clonbur to the service to Cong every morning and evening.

  • Gardai in Ballinrobe are seeking public assistance in locating a number of items stolen from a rescue boat in Lough Mask in Cong over the last number of days.

    A Yamaha motor boat engine and a GPS plotter were taken from the boat.

    The theft occurred in an area adjacent to Lough Corrib and has resulted in the Corrib Mask search and rescue losing a vessel.

    One of their crew went by on Saturday morning and noticed the Yamaha outboard engine was taken along with a Lowrance GPS system, the equipment is valued at €10,000.

    Vincent Heneghan, the chairman of Corrib Mask search and rescue said they are devastated as the engine is used on their search and rescue missions and as a result of the theft they are off board.

    Anyone with any information in relation to the incident is asked to contact Ballinrobe gardai at 094 9542830


  • The annual John Holian Memorial Road Race takes place this Friday evening 11th June from 7 to 8.30pm, organised by Western Lakes Cycling Club.

    The race will start at the Community Centre in Cong and will cover the Cong-Cross-Neale 11km route 5 times before finishing approximately 1km before Cross on the R346.

    The roads will remain open during the race and race marshals will be present at junctions to assist traffic.

    Motorists are asked to take extra care in the area on Friday evening, and expect some short delays during the race.

  • Lives will be lost or serious injuries will be sustained at two notorious junctions in the Cong area, if action is not taken, a local councillor has warned.

    Fianna Fail Councillor Damien Ryan was speaking at the monthly meeting of Claremorris Municipal District.

    The first junction he highlighted is where traffic to Lisloughrey Lodge, a pier and the local GAA club all meet the main Cross to Cong road, which is an extremely busy route.

    The councillor asked for a design to be immediately prepared to improve the intersection.

    Councillor Ryan also raised concerns about Gortacurra junction on the Cong/Cross road .

    He told Midwest News today it will be too late to act when someone sustains serious injuries or is fatally injured at either location.

  • A Co. Mayo man who scooped €25,000 on a National Lottery scratch card has been inspired to use his winnings towards funding an extension to his home after watching last night’s episode of ‘Room to Improve’ on RTE One.

    The lucky player, who won the €25,000 on an All Cash Spectacular scratch card bought in the Spar shop in Cong village, on the Mayo/Galway border last Friday, spent the weekend mulling with his wife over what he would do with his newfound windfall.

    Speaking in the National Lottery winner’s room, accompanied by his wife, he said: “I had no plans what to do with the cash until we sat down last night and watched Dermot Bannon on “Room to Improve” on RTE One. And it just hit me! I had always wanted a new extension with a conservatory but had put it on the back finger. Watching the show last night I thought let’s just do it, get the extension done.”

    The couple got the train to Dublin this morning to claim the winnings. It was the second significant win for the Mayo man who revealed he won one of the €500 on the National Lottery Christmas Millionaire Raffle, which took place on New Year’s Eve.

    Joking on his way out of Lotto HQ he said: “If I end up hiring Dermot Bannon, I might need a few more scratch card wins like this!”

  • Minister for Rural and Community Affairs Michael Ring said he was surprised to hear Ballinrobe based Fianna Fail councillor  earlier this week, announce on Midwest News, that the village of Cong had secured 70,000 for flood relief works.

    Minister Ring is questioning where this 70,000 came from and is asking is it additional funding to the 325,000 euro that was already announced last September from the government, under the OPW, for Minor Flood Mitigation Works at Cong and Drumshiel.

    In response Cllr Ryan has stated to Midwest News today that the 70,000 euro is part of the 325,000 euro already announced by the OPW and government, but he said a section of the works is expected to get underway in Cong by next month.

    He said he had been working closely with Mayo county council and the OPW to ensure these particular measures are carried out in the village of Cong.

  • Cong is a victim of its success when it comes to tourism and its impact on local services, according to Fianna Fail councillor Damian Ryan.

    The councillor called for additional resources to be provided by Mayo County Council to the internationally famous village during the summer months at yesterday’s monthly meeting of Claremorris Municipal District.

     Cllr Ryan told yesterday’s meeting that an issue arose over the Easter Weekend in the village of Cong where bins were left overflowing because resources, he said weren’t available to allocate staff to clear them.

    He explained that an average of 600-700 people stop in Cong on a daily basis  - some for a few hours/ more stay in the village during the tourist season and that he argued requires additional local authority resources.

    He asked that extra hours or additional services be provided to Cong for the busy summer season and received assurances from council management that it will happen.


    Planning permission has been granted for a therapeutic centre at Lisloughrey, Cong to support children and young people affected by cancer.

    The Cancer Fund for Children Ireland already runs the Daisy Lodge Centre at Newcastle in Co Down, and are planning a second facility in Mayo to provide short breaks for families coping with a cancer diagnosis.

    Mayo County Council has granted permission, subject to 18 conditions, for the centre at Lisloughrey, which will include the Daisy Lodge building, the Narnia building and a community hub.

    The charity says it has chosen Connacht for its second centre, as families in the region have the furthest distance to travel to Dublin treatment hospitals, and have limited access to any community-based specialist support services.

    The organisation said previously that, subject to planning permission, the new Mayo centre would be modelled on the Daisy Lodge facility in Co Down.


  • World-famous golfer Rory McIlroy has donated €1.2 million towards to building of a centre near Cong for children diagnosed with cancer and their families.

    Mayo County Council recently granted planning permission to the Cancer Fund for Children to build a therapeutic facilities for families at Lisloughrey, near Cong.

    The purpose-built Daisy Lodge will cost in the region of €8 million and will offer free breaks to families of children diagnosed with cancer.

    A similar facility was opened in Newcastle, Co Down in 2014, and has since welcomed over 2,000 families.

    It's hoped work will begin on building the new Daisy Lodge in Lisloughrey, Cong early next year, and a fundraising drive is now underway to build the lodge- which is the first phase of a 3-part project for the site.