The acclaimed actor has Irish ancestry on his maternal side and moved to Ireland to study at Trinity College, Dublin. While reading English at university, he met and fell in love with “a girl from County Limerick”.
That’s Catherine Fitzgerald – daughter of the late Knight of Glin, Desmond FitzGerald, the last heir to one of Ireland’s oldest hereditary titles.
West and Fitzgerald dated until Catherine’s 21st birthday party when disaster struck.
“I walked around the coast, to Glin Castle where she was having her 21st birthday,” West recalled. “And that is where she finished with me.”
Fast forward 20 years, and Catherine and Dominic reunited.
“Now we’re married with four kids and we’re taking over the castle where I got dumped,” he told ‘Condé Nast Traveller’.
The historic castle has been in the FitzGerald family for 700 years. It was put up for sale by Sherry FitzGerald in 2015 with a price tag of €6.5m. There was huge interest in the stately building, but the family were hoping a potential buyer would continue to care for the property.
As this did not come to pass, the family decided to retain it, taking it off the market in 2017 and transforming it into an “exclusive use rental”.
“We decided to hang on tight and keep it,” said Olda, Madam FitzGerald, widow of the Knight of Glin.
The property sleeps 30 and price is on application. All rooms are en suite and come with a bottle of Green Spot Irish whiskey. Dominic will manage the hotel and Catherine has been “reworking” the grounds. Catherine is a landscape architect who has worked on the grounds at Hillsborough Castle – the official residence in Northern Ireland of Queen Elizabeth II.
The castle has an in-house chef available and it is ideal for week-long wedding celebrations – something Dominic and Catherine know all about, given they had their own wedding there in 2010.
“It’s a good advertisement for a wedding then,” Catherine said.
Situated on the banks of the River Shannon, West said his favourite place of reflection at the castle is a wooden temple in the walled garden.
There, he “can look out over the kitchen garden, and quite a way up the Shannon Estuary. “The view is constantly changing with the weather, a silvery strip or a rough estuary, but it’s always amazing.”
The property has plenty of celebrity sparkle. Rock star Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull and Talitha Getty have all stayed there.
Speaking about his affinity with Ireland, West said: “My mother’s parents were from Ireland, although they moved to Sheffield just before the war. I remember going to Galway with my granny when I was about eight, falling in love with Connemara and developing an Irish “thing”, which is why I chose to go to Trinity College in Dublin.”
See the full feature in the September issue of Condé Nast Traveller available on digital download and newsstands Thursday 2nd August