Ashford Outdoors Activity and Equestrian Centre is located on the magnificent Ashford Castle Estate, one of the most unique venues in the country.
A little about us
Ashford Outdoors started out in 2015 when husband and wife team David and Mary O Loughlin took on the family activity business. Whilst loving the horses it was decided to bring action sports into the equation. Fun filled activities like zipline, water sports and bicycles were designed to complement the four-legged friends!
David O’Loughlin and Mary Clesham both started out life in our village of Cong. David’s path led him to representing Ireland in cycling at the Beijing Olympics. Having formative years based with horses at Ashford, Mary then studied Archaeology and not having known each other beforehand, their paths crossed in 2000 and now they have three young sons who share their passion for animals and the outdoors.
In his spare time (in short supply!) David loves nothing better than to hit the trails mountain biking and during lockdown Mary has gotten very fond of her bike too… David is now heading up our horse breeding programme, so they are definitely influencing one another!
Mary has always enjoyed cooking up a big dinner with a home baked dessert and this has transpired into our opening of the ‘clubhouse’ in 2021, which serves teas and coffees all year round and in the summer season sandwiches, snacks and the traditional home baked cakes, cookies and scones that Mary has been making for years! The children and their friends are loving the cookies!! Seeing a smile on people’s faces doing activities and enjoying themselves in our ‘clubhouse’ outdoor space is a great reward. Our wish is to create safe and memorable outdoor experiences for all our customers.
Our Mission Statement
‘A family business that provides a safe, high quality and fun outdoor experience lead by knowledgeable and customer focused guides’
Environment and sustainability
Steps we have taken to be environmentally friendly include switching over to led lighting in our indoor arena, researching rainwater harvesting and eliminating single use plastics where possible. Our horse manure now makes it's way to various gardens in the area...
Tim and Brigid Clesham founded Ashford Riding Centre at the ‘Quiet Man farmyard’ on the Ashford Estate
Tim and Brigid acquired the current property and built the Ashford Equestrian Centre at our current location
Clay Pigeon shooting introduced as an activity on the estate
The Mark Philips equestrian clinics were established and the outdoor arena was added.
Mary joined the family business
David established Cunga adventure
Mary and David formed Ashford Outdoors Ltd. The zipwire course was added.
Tree Hoppers course was added
The ‘Clubhouse’ was opened.
The Equestrian Centre
Boasting a full sized outdoor arena, indoor riding school, 15 stables, amazing trails on the quiet estate roads and forest trails, we have something to offer all equestrian enthusiasts. Whether this is private trail riding, lessons or carriage rides.
We breed sport horses, Irish draught horses and Connemara Ponies. Our home bred Irish draught mares are crossed with Irish Draught Stallions and thoroughbreds. We also have some horses with European influence such as the Dutch warmblood. We have show jumping horses and ponies that we like to go to shows with!
The Shooting School
We have a vast array of sporting targets powered by the latest promatic traps and our gun room contains the finest Baretta, Browning, Rizzini and Cogswell and Harrison shotguns.
The Estate has a long history of shooting stretching back to the Oranmore and Brown family that owned the estate before the Guinness family. In fact the forest in the area was planted for the purpose of creating the ideal habitat for Woodcock, a migratory bird that travels here in our winter time from Greenland. Whilst we are shooting clays rather than birds, that nostalgia for olden days and the rich history here on the Ashford Estate, is very much part of the passion for outdoor pursuits we still harbour today.
The Adventure Centre
Our adventure forest is a fantastic way to get out in the wild and feel the exhilaration of zipping and climbing between our beautiful mature trees. Nestled between lakes, rivers, mountains and forests we are set in an adventure playground. We offer archery, zipwire, treeclimb, Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle boarding and bike hire. We offer water sports in the summer months which are second to none as you see the majestic Ashford Castle from on top of your board from the lake itself. Our own Olympic cyclist ensures that our bike fleet are ready for your adventure.
If you like the sound of sipping your coffee outside whilst listening to the birds and looking at our horse’s heads over the stable doors you will love our clubhouse!
We serve ‘Gran Milano’ barista coffee and tea all year around and in the summer with locally baked cakes and snacks as well as Irish made confectionery and soft drinks.
We can cater for pre-arranged groups such as birthday parties, family gatherings and even team builds for sporting groups or work colleagues wishing to reconnect with one another. So by arrangement, you can combine an activity with the option of being catered for in our outdoor setting at the clubhouse on site.
We welcome our many cycling friends to enjoy our coffee offering.
Our team of staff draws from the local area. We have a dedicated and conscientious equestrian team many of whom have been with us for years. In summer time we offer internships to mostly continental European students. Our shooting instructors are versed in the history of game shooting on the estate and love country pursuits and the great outdoors. Our seasonal activity staff love to join our team and experience the Ashford Estate. We have another section all about our horse team!
Our partners and community
Ashford Castle Hotel, The Lodge at Ashford, veterinarians Paul Cummins, Philip McManus and John Dixon, Cong, Cross and The Neale Tourism and networking group, Cong Food Village, Cong Tidy Towns, Cunga cycling, Neale GAA, Ballinrobe Rugby Club. CNM Cornamona, Taste the view artisan foods, Fior Uisce, Gain animal feeds, Farrier Mike Corcoran. Fred O’ Connors Ltd Spar Cong.