Rory McIlroy rings in New Year with fiancee Erica Stoll at luxurious five-star Ashford Castle
Rory McIlroy rang in the New Year with his fiancee Erica Stoll at Ashford Castle.
The world number three golfer tee-ed off the start of 2016 nicely with a trip to the romantic five-star resort in Co Mayo, the Herald can reveal.
Sticking to tradition, it's the same place where Rory (26) and his other half celebrated New Year last year as they returned to the luxury venue for a quiet break.
They enjoyed a candle-lit dinner and a few glasses of bubbly before the countdown celebrations in the celebrity hang-out.
One onlooker who spotted the couple said they were "dressed down and keeping to themselves".
"They looked like they had been out walking around the grounds and were both dressed very casually," they said.
"They went into the bar at one stage to have a drink and seemed to be so relaxed in each other's company, like any other couple really."
Rory and Erica (29), a PGA employee, have been enjoying a few days off after spending Christmas with Rory's family in Holywood, Co Down, before heading to the Mayo hotel.
No stranger to welcoming the rich and famous, the pair have now sparked speculation that they could even get married in the Mayo venue.
It's the same place where Bond star Pierce Brosnan married Keely Shaye-Smith while Westlife star Shane Feehily celebrated his wedding to Gillian there in 2003.
Rory and Erica have been engaged for just a month after the sports star popped the question during a trip to Paris at the start of December.
The smitten golfer, who has been dating the stunning American for just over a year, presented her with a giant sparkler estimated to be worth a cool €600,000 while they were out at dinner.
However, he said recently how they're in no rush down the aisle as they enjoyed being engaged for a while.
"She is a low-key person but she brings a level of normality to everything.
"She has a calming presence and that's not just on me, it is noticeable in any company," he said.
"She never wants to be the centre of attention."