Ireland 2019: The Culloden Estate and Spa in Cultra

The tiny community of Cultra is a wealthy suburb located just east of Holywood and is about five miles from central Belfast. As you drive along the tree-lined roads you will sometimes get a glimpse of the stately mansions set way back from the inquisitive eyes of passersby. Cultra is the home of the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. And it is also where you will find a five-star luxury hotel called the Culloden Estate and Spa, considered by many to be the best hotel in all of Northern Ireland.

Henry, Dougie and Brian enter the hotel grounds from the visitor’s parking lot and are greeted by a huge hound.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.

Bill Clinton stayed here when he visited Northern Ireland in the 90s for the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Tiger Woods stays here when he visits Northern Ireland to play a little golf.  And we stayed here on our two previous visits to Northern Ireland but not this time.  It’s really not within walking distance to all the places we wanted to see and so we chose the Holiday Inn in central Belfast instead. The Culloden was also a tad beyond our budget this time. It is ranked by TripAdvisor as #12 of 50 hotels in Greater Belfast, probably because it is so expensive.

“Dance of Time III” by Salvador Dali.

Needless to say, we were impressed with the landscaping and statuary we encountered on the Culloden’s grounds. These pictures were taken around 9:30pm on the second day of Summer.

“Lady Godiva with Butterflies” by Salvador Dali.

Another view of Lady Godiva. Most of the garden sculptures were not there on our previous visits to the Culloden in 2002 and 2009. In fact, many of the statues are part of a temporary exhibit called “Art in the Garden” and featuring fourteen sculptures by Salvador Dali.

Belfast Lough and the southern Antrim coast are in the background.

The Cultra Inn is below the trees on the left.

The main entrance to the Culloden. The Culloden is only a couple of miles from the Holywood Golf Club where we had dinner. Henry, Geraldine and Dougie took us to Cultra for a brief visit at the Culloden before driving us back to our hotel in Belfast.

Another view of the main entrance. The Culloden was originally built in 1876 by William Robinson, a wealthy stockbroker, and named after his wife, the former Elizabeth Jane Culloden. After her husband’s death Elizabeth donated her mansion to the Church of Ireland and it eventually became the home for the Bishops of Down. After several ownership changes the Culloden opened as an hotel in 1962 and in 1967 it was purchased by the hotelier Sir William Hastings.

A path at the bottom of these steps leads to the Cultra Inn down the hill. The Cultra Inn is an Irish pub and bistro located on the Culloden grounds. We ate there once in 2002. It is ranked by TripAdvisor as # 9 of 57 restaurants in the Holywood area.

The Culloden’s grounds take up about 12 acres.

We stayed in the wing on the right in 2002.

Garden view from a terrace outside an hotel side entrance.

There was also some art exhibited inside the hotel, including works by Warhol, Picasso and Banksy. I took some photos of Banksy’s paintings that were displayed in the hotel’s main lounge and will show them in my next posting.

BonusWhen You and I were Young, Maggie

The song was written by a Canadian named George Washington Johnson in 1864 to his wife Maggie. George’s poem is about two lovers growing old together but it didn’t happen with George and Maggie. She died in 1865 at the age of 23. George’s poem was set to music by James Austin Butterfield in 1866 and has been sung all over the world by the likes of John McCormick, Jan Peerce, Perry Como, Gene Autry, Bing Crosby and his son Gary.  It has also been recorded by Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, De Danann, James Galway with The Chieftains, and The Statler Brothers. In 1926 Sean O’Casey used the song in his play The Plough and the Stars but he changed the name to Nora because the character in the play was singing it to his wife Nora. Johnny McEvoy used the name Nora in his number one hit of 1968. This version by Foster and Allen reached number one in New Zealand and number six in Ireland in 1983. Mick Foster was born in County Kildare in 1947. Tony Allen was born in County Westmeath in 1952. The duo started playing together 40 years ago and are still playing.

My grandmother’s name was Margaret and we called her Nana but all of her friends and family called her Maggie. I think of her whenever I hear this song. Nana was born in Virginia City, Nevada in 1871 to Irish immigrant parents. Her mother Bessie was born in Sheegorey, County Roscommon and her father Tom came from Ballycopeland in County Down. I never knew my grandfather who died three years before I was born but my grandmother lived until 1967 when I was 27 and she was 95.


About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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13 Responses to Ireland 2019: The Culloden Estate and Spa in Cultra

  1. Peter Klopp says:

    The Culloden’s grounds are definitely a place worth visiting when one happens to be travelling in Ireland. Great photo documentary!

  2. disperser says:

    I was wondering why so many Dali sculptures until I read it was a temporary exhibit.

    Also, what’s with the trumpet and butterflies?

    One other technical question. Were these photos taken with your phone?

  3. Culloden is lovely!

    Was your Grandfather a miner? I am fairly close to Virginia City now and have been there 4 times already gathering images and history. It’s full of history about the Comstock era.

    • Hi, Deborah. Well, my great grandfather on my mother’s father’s side was a miner. But my mother’s grandfather on her mother’s side was a stone mason by trade. He and his two brothers migrated from County Down in Northern Ireland to Virginia City in the 1860s. His older brother Hugh carved tombstones and there are several tombstones with his name on them in Virginia City and surrounding cemeteries. My grandmother lived in Bodie, California for a couple of years in the 1870s. Her father earned his living in those days building boilers and retorts for gold extraction. I have uploaded many posts over the years about our trips to Virginia City. Type in “Virginia City” on the search function on my blog and you will find most of them including one entitled “The Muckles of Bodie” which I recommend.
      My mother’s family moved to San Francisco when she was a teenager but she left several aunts and uncles and cousins in Virginia City. Back in the 90s I got interested in my genealogy and helped organize a big family reunion in 1996 in Carson City where most of my second cousins now live. Ten years later we had another reunion and our featured guests were my cousin Henry and his wife Geraldine who came over from Ireland to visit us that year. We showed Henry and Geraldine both Virginia City and Bodie on that trip.
      I have a couple of other posts about another Virginia City trip where we drove through Six Mile Canyon to Dayton. The Comstock Silver was first discovered in Six Mile Canyon. And one of the earliest tombstones in the Dayton Pioneer Cemetery was carved by my great grandfather’s brother. I took several photos of orange cottonwood trees in Six Mile Canyon on that trip and converted one of them to black and white for one of Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness challenges.
      My mother’s other grandfather worked for the Chollar-Potosi silver mine for more than 20 years. My mother’s father was once a deputy sheriff and then an undertaker. He also was the Storey County coroner for a short time. He had to retire early because of ill health and he and his wife and his youngest daughter (my Mom) moved to San Francisco in 1925 to live with one of his sons.

      • Wow, that’s a rich history! Thank you for all that information. I imagine quite a few tombstones were engraved by your Great Grandfather as I’m told there are several cemeteries in Virginia City! I’ve seen 4 or 5 of them while on the tour.

  4. Ms. Vee says:

    Amazing photos! Thanks for visiting my blog. Blessings and peace.🙏✌

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