It was a homecoming of sorts, but one fit for rock royalty. The historic Dromoland Castle flung open its doors in extraordinary circumstances this week for returning global superstars U2.
Despite being closed for Christmas, staff at the five-star hotel went back to work just for one night on Monday to welcome U2 singer Bono and guitarist Edge. The rockers had their travel plans disrupted by snow and needed somewhere suitably palatial to hole up for the night.
The stay came about after U2′s Principal Management contacted the 16th Century castle, where a luxury suite costs €950 a night, to ask if they could put up some VIPs.
Dromoland Castle manager Mark Nolan said: “Principal Management told us the band had been flying back to Ireland from the latest leg of their tour in Australia. But because of snow their flight had been diverted to Shannon.
Bono had asked if it was possible to spend a night in Dromoland Castle before returning to Dublin.”
Mr Nolan had to tell U2′s management that Dromoland Castle was closed for Christmas — but said he would see what could be done.
The Dubliner then rang around staff to ask if they would cater for the biggest rock stars in the world.
“No one said no, in fact we were inundated with requests from staff to help out, unsurprisingly,” added Mr Nolan.
But with Bono and the Edge arriving at Dromoland in a matter of hours, the kitchen at the castle was shut with the head chef away.
So the hotel boss sought the help of his wife Maria to lay on the catering.
Faced with a famished U2, luckily Mrs Nolan had been doing some cooking for Christmas — including a family-sized shepherd’s pie, which she served when the musicians arrived at the castle.
The impromptu dinner party included 10 of U2′s road crew and bass guitarist Chris Wolstenholme from English rock band Muse, who had been the support act on the Australian leg of U2′s tour.
During the meal they were entertained by a trad band, with Bono lending his vocals to their set of Irish airs.
Sources say the party went on well into the night, with the members of the rock band joined by the skeleton staff at the castle.
Later the group retired to their luxury suites, which feature cottage-style decor based on 18th Century botanical drawings and upholstery designed by the French fabric house Pierre Frey.
The next morning, after making them breakfast, staff waved the band off as they went to catch a train to Dublin’s Heuston Station. Dromoland Castle confirmed that U2 were paying guests during their stay.
“U2 were the nicest people you ever could meet and very engaging. They were especially appreciative of the efforts the staff at Dromoland had made. We would happily welcome U2 back anytime,” said Pamela Foley, rooms division manager at Dromoland Castle.
Set among 410 acres of park and woodland, Dromoland Castle is regarded as one of Europe’s top luxury retreats.
Former US presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush have both stayed there, as has Hollywood actor John Travolta.
U2 begin the next leg of their world tour in Johannesburg, South Africa, on February 13.
- Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor