Views of the Burren from Doolin Cave Farmland Nature Trail
The 15th Century Castle is a ruin of a tower house built by the O’Brien Clan. It stands imposingly beside the Ballinalacken House Hotel which was built by Lord O’Brien in 1840 as his family home. In 1939 Daniel O’Callaghan purchased the home from the O’Brien’s. Today it remains in the O’Callaghan family and is currently owned by Denis O’Callaghan (Daniel’s son) The name is taken from the town-land where it is located, the original Irish version of which is Baile Na Leacan, which means the town (land) of the flagstones The O’Briens were one of the most powerful families in Ireland at the time and built many castles of which Ballinalacken is one of the most impressive.
The lovely 19th century house nestled under the ivy-covered cliff on the other side of the glacial valley is privately-owned. Iris Murdoch used it as the location for her novel, ‘The Unicorn’
The architect who designed the building is Josefina Fernandez. Her brief was to design a bespoke reception building for Doolin Cave that would be sympathetic to the existing landscape and would be reclaimed by the natural surroundings over time. With the majestic ivy cliff as its guardian the design approach aimed at generating a contemporary building that would blend in and disappear within the existing hills below. Her use of local eco-friendly materials, particularly the green roof, contribute to the reduction of heat loss and energy consumption.