Galgorm Castle Golf Course
Galgorm Castle Golf Course

Irish Open Highlights Galgorm Castle

Updated June 2022 – The Irish Open, the country’s most popular golf tournament, was held for the first time in 2020 at the Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort in Co. Antrim, where Galgorm Castle is also located.

The 2022 Horizon Irish Open competition is being held at Mount Juliet Estate in County Kilkenny.

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The Galgorm Castle Golf Course, where the 2020 Irish Open took place. Photo: Courtesy of Galgorm Castle Golf Club for Tourism Northern Ireland.

This is the fourth time that the tournament was held in Northern Ireland.

The Irish Open was first hosted there in 2012.

The event highlights Northern Ireland’s position in the world of golf tourism.

Here is some information on the Galgorm Castle Estate and surrounding attractions.

Galgorm Castle Estate

There are close to 100 golf courses in the province, including the Galgorm Castle Golf Course in Ballymena, which is part of the 220-acre Galgorm Castle Estate.

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Galgorm Castle. Photo: By Screemin187 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The castle, which you can see from the 10th green, dates back to 1618.

It is one of the finest examples of Jacobean architecture on the island of Ireland.

The Protestant King James I granted the estate to the Irish warrior, Rory Og MacQuillan, in 1607.

However, the chieftain was tricked out of the property by Sir Faithful Fortescue, a nephew of the architect of the Ulster Plantation, Sir Arthur Chichester.

Fortescue subsequently began building Galgorm Castle in 1618 and later sold it to Dr. Alexander Colville, a wealthy and controversial religious academic.

The castle was used by Danish troops who sided with the Protestant William of Orange during his campaign against the Catholic King James II.

Be sure to check out the castle’s gardens, which are filled with exotic flowers.

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The restaurant at Galgorm Castle. Photo: Courtesy of Galgorm Resort & Spa for Tourism Northern Ireland.

The castle’s restaurant is open 7 days a week and the bar is open every day except Monday.

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The 18-hole championship course where the Irish Open took place is set within two rivers, the Main and the Braid, as well as several lakes.

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Photo courtesy of Galgorm Castle Golf Club for Tourism Northern Ireland.

There’s also an amateur section for those new to the game of golf.

Green fees are approximately £90 depending on the season.

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The Walled Garden at Glenarm Castle

This is one of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens and originally created to supply Glenarm Castle with its fruit and vegetables.

It is filled with beautiful flowers and plants that supply color to the garden on a year-round basis.
The walled garden at Glenarm Castle in Ballymena. Photo: Arthur Ward for Tourism Ireland.

The annual Tulip Festival is a popular event, with lots of crafts and entertainment available, as is its Christmas Festival, which will take place this year from Dec. 1 through Dec. 19.

The castle, the home of Randal and Aurora McDonnell, Viscount and Viscountess Dunluce, was built in 1636.

It is not often open to the public but when it is, you can see examples of fine Irish furniture as well as portraits of family members from the 17th century on.
Stunning views from Dunluce Castle. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland.

Before the family moved to this location, they resided in the now ruined and very popular attraction known as Dunluce Castle.

Other things to do in the Ballymena area include the following:

Walk the Slemish Mountain Trail

According to legend, Saint Patrick worked as a shepherd on Slemish Mountain, which forms a backdrop to the Galgorm Castle Golf Course.

Legend also tells us that his own conversion to Christianity took place while on the mountain, which is a popular pilgrimage destination for people every St. Patrick’s Day.
Slemish Mountain in Co. Antrim. Photo courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland.

The 1.5-km (0.9-mile) hike to this now extinct volcanic mountain takes about an hour.

From the top, you’ll get excellent views of the Antrim and Scottish coasts, as well as the town of Ballymena, Lough Neagh, and the Sperrin Mountains.

Proper clothing and footwear are necessary as the weather can change rapidly.

You’ll find more information on this mountain trail by going to the Walk Northern Ireland website.

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Glenariff Forest Park

Glenariff Forest Park, also known as the “Queen of the Glens,” is one of nine Antrim Glens that attract visitors to County Antrim.

The forest park covers a wide area of planted woodland, lakes, outdoor recreational spaces, and conservation areas.
The view from Glenariff Forest Park in Ballymena. Photo courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland.

The park is ideal for walking, hiking, and horse riding.

One of its more popular trails is called the Waterfall Walking Trail, a 3-mile stretch that goes through a National Nature Reserve.

Some of the other trails in the park include The Scenic Trail, which will take you along the Inver River gorge and following that, up a long and winding climb for about 1.1 km (less than half a mile).
The waterfall in Glenariff Forest Park. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland.

Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with fabulous views of the Glen and across the ocean, and if it’s a fine day, you may see Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre.

A visitor center, shop, and seasonal caravan/camping site can also be found at Glenariff Forest Park.

Be sure to stop at the Glenariff Teahouse & Gift Shop for afternoon tea.

Stay at the Adair Arms Hotel in Ballymena

Dooey’s Cairn

This is the best-preserved court tomb in the Coastal Causeway area. The Neolithic tomb dates from about 4,000 to 2,000 B.C.

It is named after a man called Andrew Dooey, who owned the land that it stands on.

The tomb consists of a u-shaped forecourt that leads into a small chamber. Behind that is a cremation passage containing three pits, one of which held the remains of several people.
Pottery found in the Dooey Cairn in Co. Antrim, which is currently on display at the Ulster Museum. Photo:

In addition to the human remains, several artifacts were also discovered during excavations in 1935 and 1975.

They included polished ax heads, flint arrows, and decorated pottery.

The cremation passage is the only one of its type found in Ireland.

Read More: Antrim: What to See and Do

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