Residents of the nearby village of Cong had worked at the castle for generations until the mid-20th century, when the property spiraled into decay. Enter the Tollman family, who bought the castle in 2013 and invested $75 million to meticulously refurbish the historic architecture using local craftsmen. As they worked to bring the castle back to its rightful place as an iconic symbol of Ireland's past, they also reaffirmed a close relationship with the villagers of Cong, who consider the castle part of their history and, once again, make up the majority of employees. In addition, Ashford Castle is also home to Ireland's first school of falconry, showcases period furnishings from throughout Irish history, and supports local arts — making it a model for cultural heritage preservation.
The castle also partners with the TreadRight Foundation to support an array of sustainable tourism initiatives, including biodiversity conservation and community development projects.