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Belle Isle Castle


Belle Isle has been inhabited since the 12th century. Originally called Ballymacmanus, it was home the MacManus and Maguire families, including one of the compilers of the Annals of Ulster, Cathal Og Mac Manus. The Annals are now in the Bodleian Library in Oxford and Trinity Library in Dublin.

In the early 17th century, an eminent soldier, Paul Gore, came into possession of Belle Isle. His descendant, Sir Ralph Gore, built the first house on the island. His grandson, who was born at Belle Isle Castle in 1725, and was also named Sir Ralph Gore, extended the house and created a magnificent garden that reached to the lough shore. Sir Ralph was created Earl of Ross in 1772.

He died in 1801, leaving Belle Isle to his only surviving child, Mary. She married an Englishman, Richard Hardinge, who sold Belle Isle in 1830 to Rev. John Porter for £68,000. The Porters expanded the castle and added the tower. The coach house was built in 1856, along with the estate offices and farmyard. Porter's grandson expanded the castle again in 1910, adding the gallery, more bedrooms, and the porch. In 1991, the Duke of Abercorn bought Belle Isle Estate from Miss Lavinia Baird, the last member of the Porter family.

Belle Isle Castle

Recent Years

In 1992, the bridge house was the first cottage to be converted to a holiday house. The conversion of the Hamilton Wing, which is now used to host up to 14 guests, was completed the following year.

The coach house was converted in 1996 and the courtyard in 1998. The Duke bought the estate for his second son, Nicholas Hamilton, an artist in New York. Nicholas married Tatiana Kronberg, also an artist, on 30 August 2009. Nicholas and Tatiana are involved in the estate's operations. Day-to-day management is carried out by Charles Plunket, who has been at Belle Isle for 16 years, and assisted by Andrea McIlveen, a longtime employee.

  • "Authentic & breathtaking"

    "What an amazing experience on all levels. I booked this as a surprise for my husbands birthday, and rented the Castle for a weekend, with family and friends. From booking, information, arrival, stay, and food every aspect was superb.

    Of course a stay at an authentic Castle is wonderful by itself, but who the folk who look after this beautiful place made our stay even more wonderful, a big thankyou to Andrea of making our stay perfect, and to Cynthia, Joan and the rest of the girls who provided the catering for our superb meal on Saturday night, I have to say every course was mouth watering and delicious, as was evident by the initial silence once everyone began eating!"

    Zaria, Northern Ireland