Frank the Ghille at Ashford Castle

Frank Costello, the experienced Ghillie at Ashford Castle has been living by Lough Corrib his entire life – so no one knows the lough, and of course the fish, quite as well! But before you hop in the boat and set out for the day, discover a bit more about Frank in our interview.

First of all, what is a Ghillie?!

A Ghillie is a fishing guide. It actually derives from the Gaelic for ‘Wet Foot’, as historically  it was the Ghillie’s duty to carry his master over streams.

When did you get into fishing and how long have you been a fishing instructor?

I really got into fishing from the age of 7. I was always drawn to the lough, having lived here all my life and spent much time out on the water. I’ve been an instructor for 21 years now and am an Orvis endorsed guide. There’s nothing I love more than showing guests our beautiful home and watching as it captures their hearts as much as it has mine.

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A handcrafted traditional wooden boat

What is your background?

My grandfather came to the area in 1917 to manage the farm for the Guinness family, and then my father worked for the Guinness family and subsequently the hotel in 1939 as a fishing guide. When my father passed away I took the reins and have been a fishing instructor here at Ashford since 1993. In the winter months I spend time hand crafting the traditional wooden boats we use for fishing and boat cruising.

How good is the fishing at Lough Corrib?

We’re extremely lucky to have a great supply of wild brown trout, pike and salmon in the lough. The best season runs from March to September, and I take guests out for half or full day trips, or offer fly fishing instruction from the bank.

What do you do with the fish once they are caught?

Catch and release is popular, or the chefs at the castle will cook your catch! On full day trips we can also stop at an island for lunch and cook the fish on a fire, which is delicious.

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Fishing at Ashford Castle

What do guests enjoy most?

Guests love being outside with nature, the setting here is truly magical. The thrill of a catch is always a highlight too!

What is your most frequently asked question?

How deep is the Lough…. and the answer? Well it varies, but it’s average depth is 12 meters but is as deep as 50 meters in the deeper basin.