Ardtara Country House-Co. Derry/Londonderry

historical ardtara house

A House Rich in History

Ardtara Country House is a charming and substantial 19th century house, located in the little village of Upperlands in South L'Derry. Ardtara was built as a family home by Harry Jackson Clark during the reign of Queen Victoria and now accommodates visitors in the comfort and style of a bygone era but every modern conven


The Clarks of Upperlands have been involved with the production of linen since 1736. The firm William Clark & Sons harnessed the power of the water which cascades down the slopes of the nearby Sperrin Mountains and courses through the center of Upperlands as the Clady River.

The company built the first of four dams to power a beetling mill and over the next 170 years constructed what was described in 1929 as the best developed small hydro-scheme in the world. The four man-made lakes or dams; Craig's Dam, Island Dam, Green Dam and Lapping-Room Dam) are today stocked with fish for anglers and surrounded by scenic walks for recreation. William Clark & Sons is still operating in Upperlands today.

In 1888, at the age of 18, the man who would eventually become Company Chairman - Henry Jackson Clark or “Old Harry”, ran away, determined to seek his fortune in America. But his father caught up with him in Liverpool and made a deal - he could go to America, but as a salesman for Upperlands linen. His trip was a brilliant success. Throughout his life, he retained a fierce affection for God's country, as he called the United States. Evidence of some of the objects collected on his travels can still be seen in the house, such as the two busts in the entrance hall, and a dinner gong - both brought back from the New World. By 1895 Harry was ready to marry, so he built a new family home and named it Ardtara, meaning "House on the Hill". At the beginning of the 20th century Harry and his family were thriving thanks to the growth of the William Clark & Sons linen empire, but by the end of the Second World War, many of the everyday uses for linen had been replaced by synthetics and other fabrics. Linen was nudged into the aristocracy of textiles.

As well as the Clarks, there was one other local family which made a modest living during the early 1700s by finishing and bleaching linen: the Thomsons. One of them, Charles Thomson, became one of America's Founding Fathers, a Philadelphia revolutionary who penned the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. He spent the first nine years at Gorteade Cottage close to Ardtara.

ardtara main exterior 2016

By 1956, Old Harry had passed away and by 1975 one of the finest homes in Northern Ireland was bereft of family life, until a Northern Irish woman came to the rescue 15 years later. Helped by her mother, her civil engineer father and her own natural gift for interior design, Maebeth Fenton restored the home to accommodate visitors in the comfort and style of “Old Harry’s” bygone era,  but with all the conveniences of an elegant country house hotel. In the early 21st century, ownership passed to Alistair and Nancy Hanna who continue to maintain the standards which have helped Ardtara Country House achieve a loyal clientele and many accolades.

For more information visit the Ardtara Country House website, or contact the house directly on +44 487 9644490  Email:


Ballymaloe House-Co. Cork


Circa 1450 - Ballymaloe, A Norman Castle, is built by a branch of the Fitzgerald family, illegitimate descendants of the Knights of Kerry. Corn & Cattle on the land.


1578-1583 - Geraldine Wars rages in the vicinity. Cattle seized and the corn burnt.

March 1602 - The owner, John FitzEdmund Fitzgerald knighted at Ballymaloe by Lord Mountjoy for his neutrality at the Battle of Kinsale.


1611-1617 - Lady Hanoria Fitzgerald, mistress of Ballymaloe, hid monks fleeing from Youghal and protected holy relic now displayed in the Dominican Priory, Cork.


1620's - The owner, Sir John FitzEdmund Fitzgerald is said to be 'one of the best estate commoners in Ireland'. Ballymaloe becomes one of the last great Anglo-Norman households.


1641-1679 - House passes to Lord Broghill. Cromwell and William Penn visit Ballymaloe. The South Wing is built.


Circa 1700 - Ballymaloe passes to Edmund Corker. Elk horns are found on the farm and Chuff, the dwarf is part of the household.


Circa 1720 - Ballymaloe passes to Hugh Lumley. The buildings on the North side of the castle wall are added. Cider orchards are planted and a excellent strong cider is made. Lumley becomes godfather to Bishop Berkley's son, William.



Circa 1760 - Ballymaloe passes to Abraham Foster.


Circa 1820 - Clement John Foster knocked down the old buildings on the South side of the castle wall and the present dining and drawing room are built.


Circa 1835 - The portrait of Chuff leaves Ballymaloe and the house passes to the Lichfield family. The dairy and gardens are developed for supplying local communities.


1924 - James Simpson, nephew of the Lichfield's, takes over Ballymaloe.


1948 - Ballymaloe passes to Ivan Allen and the farm is modernised.


1964 - The dining room is opened as a restaurant called; 'The Yeat's Room'.


1967 - On Good Friday, the portraits of Chuff and Jester are returned to Ballymaloe. A few of the bedrooms are made ready to accommodate staying guests.

ballymaloe house 1 

A Modern History

The farm was originally funded by a glasshouse business in Shanagarry.  In the 1970’s horticultural prices collapsed and simultaneously wages and oil went up.  At the same time tourism developed.  This led to the development of business at Ballymaloe House. 


1968 - The stables and grain loft are converted into our courtyard bedrooms


1977 - The first edition of the Ballymaloe Cookbook is published.


1983 - Ballymaloe Cookery School starts in Kinoith


1998 - Mr Ivan Allen passes away. House left to family.


2004 - The calf houses are converted to Farm Cottages.


2008 - The old Grain Store is converted into a venue to promote music and to hold functions.

For more information please visit the Ballymaloe House Website or call Ballymaloe on +353 21 465 2531 Email


Barberstown Castle-Co.Kildare

historic photo at barberstown castle date unknown

The Unique History of Barberstown Castle

Barberstown Castle built in the 13th Century is an integral part of the local area. Its history is as fascinating as its architecture and is worth a visit on these attractions alone. Nestled on 20 acres of surrounding gardens, Barberstown was one of the first great Irish country houses to display its splendor to the outside world when it opened as a hotel in 1971. It has maintained the elegance of design over eight centuries by sympathetically blending its Victorian and Elizabethan extensions with the original Castle Battlement of 1288. The Castle was built as a fortress to protect the village and people of Barberstown from the attack of the rebellious Vi Faelain, who tried to burn the town (among others) in 1310. It has traditionally found itself in the middle of political struggle and local wars which generally resulted in change of ownership. 


Since 1288 Barberstown has had 37 owners who have all who had the foresight to protect its heritage and character including one Eric Clapton who was one of its most recent owners. 


Some of its previous owners have gone to extreme lengths to retain ownership. Just how far some went is illustrated by the story of the body that is said to be interred in the tower of the Castle Keep (the original part of the Castle). His fate can be explained by reading the lease on the Castle at the time in which was written that the lease would expire when he was buried underground (ie. his death). The ending of a lease normally resulted in an increase in rent so after the man’s death he was buried in the tower above the earth which ensured the family continued to hold the lease to the Castle!Uniquely Barberstown Castle is made up of four buildings from different periods in Irish history. It has recently undergone a multimillion euro redevelopment with careful attention given to retaining the original Castle features, character, style and personality of this unique property.  


barberstown castle

Distinguished and influential owners of Barberstown Castle include:

•    Nicholas Barby built the Castle towards the end of the 13th Century on the land which was originally owned by the Great Norman family the Fitzgeralds. 
•    1630 William Sutton of one of the most important families in the area owned the property. The population of Barberstown at the time was 36! 
•    1689 Lord Kingston had his ownership confiscated by Earl of Tyrconnell after the accession to power of James 11 of England. It was around this time that it fell into the less glamorous hands of the Commissioners of the Revenue who let it out to a Roger Kelly for £102 annual rent in the late 1600s. 
•    It was purchased by Bartholomew Van Homreigh in 1703 for £1,033 the sixth owner in six years. At the time the property was 335 acres. Van Homreigh had been mayor of Dublin in 1697 and his greatest ‘claim to fame’ lies in the fact that he was the father of Vanessa of whom Swift wrote so passionately about. 
•    He sold it to the Henrys who were prone to excessive spending and were left with no option but to sell it to Mr. Hugh Barton who completed the last wing of the house in the 1830s which added to the present day unique architectural status of Barberstown. He is also famed for constructing Straffan House known today at the K-Club. 
•    As the property became too expensive to retain as a residence, the Huddlestons who owned Barberstown Castle in the 1900s sold it to Mrs. Norah Devlin who converted it into a hotel in 1971. 
•    Eric Clapton purchased the property in 1979 and, sold it to the current owner in 1987.   
•    Proprietor Ken. Healy who lives on the property has renovated it from a 10 bedroom guesthouse with three bathrooms to a 59 bedroom Failte Ireland approved 4 Star Hotel and a member of Ireland’s Blue Book of Country House Hotels & Restaurants.

For more information please visit the Barberstown Castle website or call Barberstown on +353 1 6288157 Email



Blairscove Restaurant & Accommodation-Co. Cork

blairscove house evening


Sitting on a promontory jutting out into Dunmanus Bay is Blairscove House. Surrounded by 4.5 acres of lawns and gardens, Blairscove is the ideal place to spend a few relaxing days. 

Built around 1760, adjacent to ancient fortifications guarding the West Cork coastline, it saw a succession of fifty owners over the next 200 years. Since 1972 however, it remained in the hands of the same family and Philippe and Sabine De Mey, the present owners, have continued the work their parents began.
The finely restored courtyard with cobbled paths, lily pond, shrubs and flowers has become the centre of it all. The former out houses contain four beautiful guest apartments as well as the restaurant, with its magnificent dining room converted from the old stable block.

For more information visit the Blairscove website


Bushmills Inn-Co. Antrim

bushmills exterior low res

Bushmills Inn - like a fine malt, the Bushmills Inn Hotel has matured across the years.

The original coach house and stables at Bushmills Inn are thought to date back to 1608, the same year that the Bushmills distillery was granted the first ever licence to distil whiskey.

It all started in 1608

The oldest part of the Coaching Inn, behind the Main Street frontage, could date back close in time to 1608 when ‘ Old Bushmills’ was granted the world’s first ever licence to distil whiskey. It was however in the 1820’s when the main hotel was built as part of a major redevelopment of the town.


The Inn quickly became a haven for saddle-sore visitors on their way to the Giant’s Causeway - it was here they would stop to sample the whiskey that made this charming village internationally famous.

In the early 1890’s, and with the arrival of a tram link to the Causeway, the hotel fell into rapid decline. Over the next century the Inn was variously used as a private dwelling, a factory for making bikes, and even a ‘residence’ for chickens on the top floor!

bushmills inn fireplace

Redeveloped to its former glory

It was only in 1987 that extensive development works were undertaken by the previous owner and for its imaginative restoration the hotel was honoured with the British Airways Tourism Award for Projects. Ten years later 22 additional bedrooms were incorporated in the adjoining Mill House on the banks of the River Bush and a new entrance was created alongside the river from the Dunluce Road. In 2009 a further large scale development was undertaken which brought the hotel to its current status of 41 oversized bedrooms and luxurious suites and included a new residents reception, courtyard garden, state of the art conference facilities, cinema and garden room extension to the restaurant.

For more information visit the Bushmills Inn website



Carrig Country House-Co. Kerry

carrig house nightime

Originally built c. 1850 as a hunting lodge, Carrig House’s previous owners include Lady Cuffe, Lord Brockett Snr, Sir Aubrey Metcalf and Senator Arthur Rose Vincent before it was bought by Frank & Mary Slattery in 1996. Former owners of Slatt’s restaurant in Tralee, Frank & Mary set about renovating and meticulously decorating the beautiful Victorian residence.

Carrig House was a retreat from the busy Victorian world of the landed gentry, the military or the merchant classes. It was to this house that Senator Arthur Vincent came when he remarried after the death of his first wife. She was the daughter of the American, Bowers Bourne, who had given the Vincents a wedding present of Muckross house in Killarney.

carrig house historical

When Vincent left, he and his parents-in law gave the Muckross Estate to the Irish nation as a memorial tribute in 1932. Carrig house had already had a succession of owners since it was built in the 1850’s; after Vincent it was sold to Sir Aubrey Metcalf, one of the last Ministers of the British administration to India, who lived here for about eight years. He was a cousin of The McGillacuddy’s. On the walls of Carrig House, these family faces smile from the tennis parties and boating rips of 50 years ago.

After them came Lord Brocket, who owned several other notable houses, including Carton and Cashel Palace. With this embarrassment of two homes to choose from, Lord Brocket only visited Carrig a few times a year, installing a caretaker instead to keep the place in good order, until it was sold in 1983 to a German family. Frank, and his wife, Mary Slattery, and their children, came here in 1996.

For more information please visit the Carrig Country House website


Cashel House-Co. Galway

cashel house historic 3
Geoffrey Emerson, who is said to have designed it for Captain Thomas Hazell, built Cashel House, a house with asymmetrical gabled elevations, in 1840. Geoffrey Emerson is a great, great grandfather of the present owners. The Hazells were English 

Landowners and were also agents for a Scottish firm buying Kelp - a type of seaweed. The old Kelp store still stands by the pier opposite Doon House. Captain Hazell and his wife celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary at Cashel House in 1885. The rose hedge outside the bar is said to be his present to her on that occasion. Mrs Hazell laid out a lot of the gardens and planted many of the flowering trees and shrubs that you see today.

From 1919 to 1951 Cashel House was the home of Jim O'Mara T.D. and his family. Jim O'Mara was the first official representative of Ireland in the United States and he devoted his life and talents to make Ireland a nation. Jim O'Mara was a keen botanist and found happiness in Cashel House. Over the years he carried out a lot of work on the gardens. The three streams, which flow through the garden, were a delight to him with their banks clothed with bog plants and spirea & osmunda ferns. O'Mara turned the orchard field into a walled garden of rare trees, azaleas, heather's and dwarf rhododendrons, which his children named 'the Secret Garden'. Jim O'Mara and his wife celebrated their golden jubilee in April 1945 in the gardens of Cashel House under a

cashel house historic 2


Flowering chilean fire tree.

In 1952 Cashel House became the home of Lt Col and Mrs Brown Clayton, formerly of Brownes Hill in Carlow. During their time at Cashel House the Browne Clayton's had Harold McMillian, the late British Prime Minister, stay as their guest. The Browne Clayton's also gave the garden its notable collection of fuchisas.

Dermot and Kay McEvilly purchased Cashel House in 1967. Total refurbishment began immediately, with a fine collection of antiques being added and offering all modern facilities. The house reopened in May 1968 and 'Cashel House Hotel' was born. Prior to the McEvilly's acquiring the house Lt Col Browne Clayton had been ill for a number of years. During this time the gardens had become overgrown, the restoration of which is still ongoing. The original house was preserved by the McEvillys's and any additional building was done to the side and rear of the main house to maintain its original elegance.

It was in Cashel House that the late General and Madam De Gaulle of France spent two weeks of their Irish holiday in May 1969.


For more information please visit the Cashel House Hotel website


Castle Durrow-Co. Laois

castle durrow ivy

Castle Durrow Hotel in County Laois is a piece of Irish history embodied in stone. As a building, its massive solidity is combined with an old-world charm and elegance that is distinctive and attractive. It is the creation of an Anglo-Irish landlord family, a relic of an age that has vanished forever. Castle Durrow is the first country house of importance that still stands in close to its original condition and is one of the few 18th century houses for which precise building records survive.

Built by earlier generations of Durrow inhabitants, the legacy of Castle Durrow is its unique sense of proportion, restrained good taste, and a spaciousness that has largely disappeared from present-day living. Complex traditions unite at Castle Durrow – it was built and lived in during a period of high taste and high culture.

Formerly the home of the Flower family, Barons Castle Durrow and Viscounts Ashbrook, it was built in the early 18th century (1712 – 1715) when domestic architecture in Ireland was developing an independence of the need for defence and economy that had characterised earlier construction.


The construction began after the Cromwellian and Williamite wars; this resulted in a new Protestant aristocracy that was beginning to enjoy the lands that they had inherited. The fashion of this new era dictated that inherited land should now separate the burden of agriculture from that of class, and create elegant mansions that could not in any way resemble the farmhouse type buildings of the previous age.

Colonel William Flower commenced with the construction of the Manor in 1712. The Flower family assumed residency of Castle Durrow in 1716 and continued to expand and improve their Estate on various occasions during their 214-year reign. Past research indicates that the Ashbrooks were generally regarded as benevolent landlords and of course the largest

employers of Durrow Village.


castle durrow dramatic

In 1922 the banks finally foreclosed and the Flower family was forced to relocate back to Britain. Subsequently, the property was sold to Mr. Maher of Freshford, Co Kilkenny who was primarily interested in the rich timber reserves of the Estate. By 1928 the old hard wood forests of Durrow were scarce.

Eventually the Land Commission divided up the arable portions of the property and the Forestry Department took over many of the woods for further plantation. During this time the great manor house which stood in a commanding position near the town overlooking the beautiful River Erkina remained entirely empty for a few years. The Bank of Ireland acquired the town and consequently for the next 40 years house property in Durrow was purchased from that bank.

In 1929 with the Bishop’s approval the Parish of Durrow acquired the Estate for the purchase price of £1800 and Castle Durrow was transformed into a school, St Fintan’s College and Convent. The advent of a school at Castle Durrow was testimony to the fact that beautiful buildings of the past could be used in the modern world.

Peter and Shelley Stokes bought the castle in 1998 and transformed it into the luxurious Castle Hotel it is today.


For more information please visit the Castle Durrow website


Castle Leslie-Co. Monaghan

castle leslie estate co monaghan

The Leslie Family can trace its ancestry back to Atilla the Hun. The first Leslie came from Scotland and was a Hungarian nobleman called Bartholomew Leslie.

Castle Leslie Estate’s colorful history is awash with politics, royalty and war. The Leslie family has lived on the Estate since 1665. The land was purchased with a £2000-reward given to John Leslie, the fighting bishop, by King Charles II. The Family’s non-conformist ancestors include warlike bishops, politicians, social reformers, agricultural innovators, philanthropic wives, fine pre-Raphaelite painters, furniture collectors, writers and war heroes. They've been connected with royalty, ambassadors and prime ministers, and regularly visited by foreign émigrés, wits, poets and infamous kleptomaniacs.


You can find a complete history of Castle Leslie by clicking here.


Chapter One Restaurant-Dublin City

chapter one dining room


Chapter One Restaurant is located in Dublin city centre on the north side of Parnell Square. As a former home of John Jameson, it retains authentic granite walls and sash windows and has been carefully and stylishly renovated to create a wonderfully sumptuous and comfortable restaurant.

Chapter One Restaurant opened in February 1992 with co-proprietors Ross Lewis and Martin Corbett.

It is located in the basement of the Dublin Writers Museum on Parnell Square in Dublin’s city centre.


For more information please visit the Chapter One website


Coopershill House-Co. Sligo

coopershill house exterior

The history of Coopershill is, per se, the story of Simon O'Hara's family, the current owner of the house. The house was built for Simon's great, great, great, great grandfather and he is the seventh generation of the family to live here.

Arthur & Sarah Cooper lived originally in a 16th century house which was alongside the Drumfin to Riverstown road. In the early 1750s, with luxury in mind, Arthur & Sarah decided that they would build on the bare hill nearby, across the river. The story is told that they engaged an architect & a builder, placed two buckets of gold sovereigns on the ground and instructed them to build a grand manor house on the hill. However, they had not reckoned with the building of the bridge across the river; every time the foundation stones were laid by the river bed, the giant stones would sink into the soft mud. The solution found was to place layers of fresh sheepskins under each stone, which would prevent them sinking. To this day the skins remain and the bridge is solid.


The building of the house started in 1755, under the supervision of one of the best known architects of the time, Francis Bindon, of Ennis in County Clare. Experts can now look at the house and tell us that the builder changed somewhere near the top floor. The sandstone blocks, from which the outer stones were cut, were dragged by mules from a quarry 5 miles away; there still remains a wood on the estate named "the Mule Park", where the mules were stabled. The stones were shaped by masons working at the front of the house, and the chippings lie just 2 feet below the surface of the lawn.


It is clear by the positioning of the main staircase that the owners could not decide whether the entrance to the solid square shaped Georgian house should be through the north or south facing walls. They appear to have left the decision till the last possible moment, no doubt adding to the problems of the architect & the builder. The mansion took 19 years to build and was finally completed in 1774. The store of sovereigns must have been exhausted by this time, because there is evidence that much of the interior of the house was completed later; the design of the door casings, for example, was to be found only in London in the 1770s, so these will have been added at a later date.


First occupants

charles jervas painting

Coopershill was first occupied by Arthur & Sarah's son, Arthur Brooke Cooper, who married a lady from a nearby ancient Irish family, Jane Francis O'Hara. The next owner of the house was Arthur Brooke & Jane's second son, Charles William Cooper. At this time, the head of the O'Hara family at nearby Annaghmore was Charles King O'Hara, a bachelor. Wishing to perpetuate the name of his family, Charles King offered to leave in his will the vast estates and Country House of Annaghmore to his nephew, Charles William Cooper, provided that the latter would change his name to O'Hara, his mother's maiden name. This he did by Royal Warrant in 1860 and looking for more luxury in Sligo, moved with his wife Annie to Annaghmore. He retained ownership of Coopershill, and left his two spinster sisters to continue living there. Charles William & Annie had 14 children, 5 of whom died before reaching the age of 28.


Annaghmore was inherited by Charles William & Annie's eldest son Charles,and Coopershill by their second son Arthur. Arthur died in 1934 and Charles in 1947. Both were bachelors and they left their properties to Simon's Great Grandfather, Freddie. Although Freddie was 12th to be born and not the next in line, he had married Muriel Henn from County Clare, and they already had sons to eventually inherit both properties. This was considered very important at the time and so Annaghmore was subsequently inherited by Freddie & Muriel's eldest son Donal, and Coopershill by their second son Frank, Simon’s Grandfather. Frank had married an English woman, Joan Bridgeman, during his career of tea planting in India. After Freddie's death in 1947, Frank & Joan moved to Coopershill to start a new life in agriculture, quite a challenge at the time of farm mechanization of the early 1950s.


coopershill stairs min


After Frank & Joan's family of 6 had grown up, they created a new source of modest income from taking in families for holidays in the summer months. An Irish Country House Hotel right at the beginning of tourism in Ireland. A big attraction were the ponies in the stables at that time, and some families came year after year for the childrens' riding. Frank died in 1982, and Joan continued for another 4 years on her own, joining a growing group of owners of large manor houses from all over Ireland who could only keep their houses in shape with the aid of income generated by taking paying guests. Joan died in 2008 at home in Coopershill after 95 years of remarkable energy and boundless cheerfulness.

Simon's parents, Brian & Lindy, came to take over the Country House Hotel in early 1987, adding 3 more guest bedrooms to the original 5 and investing much love, attention and funds in the renovation and care of the mansion until their retirement in 2007. They came to set the standard for luxury accommodation in Co. Sligo. They now live in a new stone house beside the stables. Simon is the latest custodian and inhabitant of Coopershill House. Simon's 2nd cousin Durcan O'Hara now lives at Annaghmore Manor House, just 8 miles from Coopershill.


For more information please visit the Coopershill House website


Currarevagh House - Co. Galway

currarevagh house historical

Currarevagh House was built by the present owner’s great, great, great, great grandfather in 1842, however their history can be traced further back. The seat of the Hodgson Family in the 1600’s was in Whitehaven, in the North of England, where they owned many mining interests. Towards the end of the 17th Century, Henry William Hodgson moved to Arklow and commenced mining for lead in Co Wicklow.

A keen angler and shot he travelled much of Ireland to fulfil his sport (not too easy in those days), and during the course of a visit to the West of Ireland decided to prospect for copper. This he found along the Hill of Doon Road. At much the same time he discovered lead on the other side of Oughterard. So encouraged was he that he moved to Galway and bought Merlin Park (then a large house on the Eastern outskirts of Galway, now a Hospital) from the Blake family and commenced mining.


As Galway was some distance from the mining activities he wanted a house closer to Oughterard. Currarevagh (not the present house, but an early 18th century house about 100m from the present house) was then owned by the O’Flaherties – the largest clan in Connaught – and, though no proof can be found, we believe that he purchased it from the O’Flaherties. However a more romantic story says he won it and 28,000 acres in a game of cards. The estate spread beyond Maam Cross in the heart of Connemara, and to beyond Maam Bridge in the North of Connemara.


curraravagh house drawing room historical


As the mining developed so the need for transportation of the ore became increasingly difficult until eventually two steamers (“the Lioness” and “the Tigress”) were bought. These, the first on Corrib, delivered the ore to Galway and returned with goods and passengers stopping at the piers of various villages on the way.

The present house was built in 1842, suggesting a renewed wealth and success. No sooner however was present Currarevagh completed, then the 1850’s saw disaster. A combination of British export law changes, and vast seems of copper ore discovered in Spain and South America, heralded the end of mining activity in Ireland.


The family, who were fairly substantial land owners at this stage, got involved in various projects, from fish farming to turf production – inventing the briquette in the process. Certainly Currarevagh was been run as a sporting lodge for paying guests by 1890 by the current owners great grandfather; indeed they have a brochure dated 1900 with instructions from London Euston Railway Station. This we believe makes it the oldest in Ireland; certainly the oldest in continuous ownership.


"Since the prohibition of Cross - Line fishing in Lough Corrib, and the great improvement which has ensued in the Trout and Salmon fishing of the Lake, a want of suitable accommodation on the spot has been much felt by Anglers, and in consequence a Gentleman having a comfortable modern house on the Lake Shore near Oughterard within easy reach of many of the best parts of the Lake, has decided to take a limited number of Anglers as paying Guests." Extract from brochure dated 1900


currarevagh house exterior


After the Irish Civil War of the 1920’s the Free State was formed and many of the larger Estates were broken up for distribution amongst tenants. This included Currarevagh, even though they were not absentee landlords and had bought all their land in the first place. Landlords were assured they would be paid 5 shillings (approx 25c) an acre, however this redemption was never honoured, and effectively 10’s of thousands of acres were confiscated by the new state, leaving Currarevagh with no income, apart from the rare intrepid paying guest. At one stage a non local cell of the Free Staters (an early version of the IRA) tried to blow up Currarevagh, planting explosive under what is currently the dining room. However the plan was discovered before hand, and the explosive made safe. From then on a member of the local IRA cell remained at the gates of Currarevagh to warn off any of the marauding out of towners, saying Currarevagh was not to be touched. Evidently they were well integrated into the community, and indeed during the famine years it seems they did as much as they could to help alleviate local suffering. Indeed there is a famine graveyard on the estate; this was because the local people became too week to bring the dead to Oughterard. It is also one of the few burial grounds to contain a Protestant consecrated section.


Having got through the 1920’s and 30’s, Currarevagh again got in financial trouble during the second world war: although paying guests did come to Ireland (mainly as rationing was not so strict here), the original house was put up for sale. It did not sell, and eventually was pulled down in 1946, leaving just Currarevagh House as it stands today. In 1947 it was the first country house to open as a restaurant to none staying guests; still, of course, the situation today.


For more information please visit the Currarevagh House website



Dunbrody House-Co. Wexford

dunbrody summer

Set in 200 acres of beautiful parkland, Dunbrody Country House Hotel is an enchantingly intimate 1830s Georgian manor. Ancestral home to the Chichester Family, the house has a long and well-established tradition of hospitality. A warm reception awaits you at Dunbrody Country House - an oasis of tranquility located on the dramatic Hook Peninsula. Fresh flowers, Crackling log fires in period fireplaces, relaxed elegance, Dunbrody is a charming hotel with a character and atmosphere all of its own.

Nearly 200 years old, Dunbrody retains and respects all the charms of its origins while embracing all that travellers expect from a modern hotel - fine dining restaurant, chic champagne bar,  boutique spa, cookery school, complimentary wi-fi and yet all the old world charm you would expect including extensive kitchen gardens, orchards, herb garden and even our own truffle trees. Some unexpected treats as well like breakfast til Noon every day!


For more information please visit the Dunbrody House website


Enniscoe House-Co. Mayo

enniscoe exterior with scenery

Enniscoe, in ancient times, was one of the chief residences of the Kings of Hy-Fiachrach and up to the 12th century it had been part of O’Dowda territory.

When the Barretts came to Crossmolina, they took over Enniscoe and built a castle on the site and also planted an orchard. It was captured by the Bourkes around 1368. The orchard was burned down when the O’Connors made a raid into Tyrawley.

The Barretts regained possession for a time after this and it was back in the hands of the Bourkes in 1452. The Bourkes remained in possession to the end of the 16th century. In 1790 the Jackson family took over Enniscoe and it has passed by inheritance through twelve generations of the family to the present owner, Susan Kellett. She has now been joined by her son, Dj Kellett.


Enniscoe House is a Georgian Country House. The Original House was built around 1750 and was a tall (3 stories over basement) single gabled building of five bays. This house is perfectly preserved as it is incorporated into the present house. The front part of the house was added in the 1790’s by the Jackson family. It is a two storey house, with five bay entrance front, having acentral window flanked by sidelights above a pedimented tripartite doorway with Doric columns and pilasters. There is a five bay side elevation.

The family portraits, antique furniture, good food and wine, and a warm welcome, all contribute to the pleasant and relaxed atmosphere of this historic house.


The house is situated on the shores of Lough Conn, with attractive views of the lake across the parkland. The old walled garden has been restored, and one farmyard now houses a samll agricultural museum, tearoom and shop, and the genealogy centre that researches names and families of Mayo origin.


For more information please visit the Enniscoe House website


Ghan House - Co. Louth

ghan house exterior

Ghan House is an eighteenth century Georgian house built in 1727 by William Stannus, a politician from Dublin who was of Scottish descent.

The drawing room in the main house is actually an extension to the original property. Built in approximately 1747, you can see from outside the differently sized windows. Also outside, just 20yds from the front door, is a hollow just before the pond. This was discovered 20 years ago when excavating the pond. Archaeologists think that is an ancient private bathing area. There is a tunnel linking this to the other lawn, probably to bring in the seawater.

There are 2 busts on the ceiling of the drawing room, apparently of William Stannus’ daughters – however we have been told that he only had one daughter, so who the other lady is….we can only guess!

2 tunnels once upon a time ran from the bottom kitchen – one to the bakery in Carlingford & the other to The Heritage Centre behind us. The kitchen also used to have a brick vaulted ceiling – taken out by the previous owners sadly. Monks here used to bake bread in the brick oven and deliver it via the tunnel to the bakery.

  • Phone: +353 42 9373682
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Gregans Castle Hotel-Co. Clare

gregans castle spring


Gregans Castle has a long and interesting history, going back to a tower house, or small castle, which was built by the O’Loughlen clan (the region’s principal tribe) between the 10th and 17th centuries, and is still intact.

The present house dates from the late 18th century, and has been added to many times; it has been run as a country house hotel by the Haden family since 1976, currently by Simon Haden and his wife Freddie, who have been proprietors since Simon’s parents retired in 2003 and whose exquisite vision is bringing many new visitors to this fascinating area.


 For more information please visit the Gregans Castle website


Hunters Hotel-Co. Wicklow

hunters hotel main

Ireland’s Oldest Coaching Inn

Hunters Hotel developed from a forge which was situated by the Vartry river at Newry Bridge in the mid 1600s. This is the Newrath Bridge of today, which originates from the Gaelic,"n-iurrach" meaning ”land of the Yew trees”. There are still two ancient yew trees at the bottom of the hotel gardens by the river.

The inn, which was part of the Ballinapark estate of the Tighe (formerly Fownes) family, was operated by a succession of landlords in the 18th century. The Rose family in the 1770s, the Cole family in the 1790s, and the Nolans in the early 1800s. The inn had been serving the old coach road to Dublin for many years when John Hunter, formerly a butler to the Tottenham family at Ballycurry House in nearby Ashford, took over the lease (with his wife Catherine) from the Nolans in c.1825.


hunters horse and carriage


Eventually the hotel passed from his son Robert to his grand daughter Sarah Hunter who ran the hotel for many years with the help of her mother Elizabeth and brother Charles Stewart Hunter, a god son and name sake of Charles Stewart Parnell, a frequent visitor. Sarah died aged 91 in 1966. Sarah's sister Francis married Thomas Gelletlie, a watchmaker and jeweller from Wicklow.


Maureen Gelletlie (Murtagh) managed the hotel for Sarah Hunter in latter years and remained at the helm up until her death, aged 91, in 2010. Her sons Richard & Tom own and run the hotel today, continuing a stewardship that has lasted for nearly 200 years. 


 For more information please visit the Hunter's Hotel website


Ice House Hotel-Co. Mayo

ice house hotel exterior

The Ice House was originally called “The Iceland Cottage” or “Iceland House” and was strategically positioned on the Moy Estuary – which subsequently became the principal sea-port of Ireland.

The fisheries were granted to a great number of the nobility from early 17th Century (before 1641) until the beginning of the 19th Century, when the Messrs Little founded the Moy Fishery Company. They spent a huge amount of money rebuilding Salmon Weirs at the falls of the river where drifting nets were positioned further downriver. The great quantities of fish caught here were taken to Killala Bay and transferred to bigger boats that were then exported to Dublin or Liverpool. The River Moy was hugely congested with boats at this time – indeed between 1882 and 1893, the fish exports from the river totalled between 120 and 130 tons of salmon.

The importation of such perishable goods required a great deal of ice, as did the operation of the two breweries to ensure year-round production of beer. The current Ice House is a substantial two-storey Neo-Tudor double pile over three large cellars, and was constructed by Messrs. Little in 1859. It wasn’t the first structure of the sort on the site. The Previous Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1838) shows a large salmon fishery and icehouse on the location of the present building, and a number of similar structures along the river from Ballina to the mouth of the estuary. The one in Ballina formed part of the property of the Lindsey family and was at the time leased at an annual rental of seven pounds and ten shillings to John Little, presumably one of the Messrs. Little who managed the salmon weirs. It would thus appear that the ice store incorporated within the house is older than the rest of the building. 

The Ice House in Ballina retained function as an ice store subsequent to its incorporation into domestic residence. Even in its residential capacity, the building served a functional purpose: while the basement was used as a cold store for salmon exports, the rest of the house itself was used to accommodate the manager of the Moy Fishery Company. The house is in a strategic location on the Quay, at the edge of the river, into which the ice vaults probably drained, and at right angles to the adjoining road. The road-facing elevation contains a large central archway for easy access into the vaults for the delivery and collection of ice.

ice house hotel view

The Ice-Store

The filling of the cellars was an annual event and involved every able-bodied person in town. During the winter, when the local lakes and ponds froze, farmers and quay workers would harvest the ice by breaking it into large chunks with pick axes and sledge hammers. The chunks were conveyed on carts to the ice house, where they were crushed with long handled wooden mallets and thrown into the cellars. Owing to a gradual climate change, less and less ice was produced locally; by the 1920s and 1930s, only approximately one Winter in ten was cold enough to fill the cellars.


One such Winter occurred in 1938-39, and in December 1938, the manager of the Moy Fisheries Company was unable to open the Ice House vaults for a supply a local ice for the first time in twelve years. Ice was sourced from a large lake on Michael Davis’s land between the Ice House and the Quay Cottages know locally as Poulmore, and so rich was the harvest that the three massive vaults were filled in the course of a single day and night. Harvesters were paid 6s. for a horse cart, 4s. for a pony cart, and 3s. for a donkey cart. With the introduction of mechanical refrigeration, the Ice House fell into disuse as an ice store. It remained in residential use until 1989, when the state acquired the assets of the Moy Fisheries.


Domestic icehouses were a reasonably common feature of the larger landed estates but, following the advent of mechanical refrigeration, they fell into disuse and many are now in ruins. For this reason The Ice House is of obvious architectural and historical merit, serving as a snapshot of the technical innovations available to merchants and traders before the invention of mechanical refrigeration.


For more information please visit the Ice House Hotel website

King Sitric-Co. Dublin

king sitric 1972


The King Sitric was established in 1971, Aidan and Joan MacManus have earned an international reputation for fresh seafood in their harbour-side restaurant in the picturesque fishing village of Howth. In 1999, they extensively rebuilt the old Harbour Master's house, relocating the restaurant to the first floor with panoramic sea-views, and adding eight guest bedrooms. All the bedrooms, named after Lighthouses, are stunningly located overlooking Balscadden Bay. 
They are named after King Sitric II, Norse King of Dublin in the 11th Century who had a close association with Howth and was son in law of the famous Irish King, Brian Boru.


For more information please visit the King Sitric website


Longueville House - Co. Cork

longueville exterior

Longueville’s beautiful view of the Blackwater Valley belies a turbulent history. The house was built in 1720 by the Longfield family, who always maintained they were of French extraction and not Cromwellians.



Proprietor William O’Callaghan is a descendant of original owner Donough O'Callaghan. He fought beside the Catholics after the collapse of the 1641 Rebellion and forfeited the land to Cromwell. At this time, probably when Richard Longfield was created Baron Longueville in 1795, the family changed the name to Longueville.


Richard was later rewarded with a Viscountcy, probably receiving a large sum of money as compensation for losing his Parliamentary seat. He’s believed to have used it to add two wings, stone parapets and a pillared porch.

Longueville is typically late Georgian, with ornate Italian-designed ceilings, marble dining-room mantelpiece featuring a relief of Neptune in his chariot, rare, inlaid mahogany doors, and an unusual, full-height staircase.

On the East side, you’ll find a fine Victorian conservatory of curved ironwork added in 1866 by Richard Turner, the greatest ironmaster and designer of glasshouses of the Victorian era.

This is how Longueville is today − back in the hands of the O'Callaghan clan whose forebears were originally deprived of it by Cromwell in 1650. Longueville comes complete with tree plantations that resemble the battle lines at Waterloo – French on one side, English on the other.


For more information please visit the Longueville House website



Marlfield House-Co. Wexford

marlfield house 2

Marlfield House hotel in South East Ireland has been renowned for its lavish and warm hospitality since the Earls of Courtown opened its doors to friends and guests in the 1830's. They would never have imagined that almost 150 years later their Wexford home would become one of the most celebrated luxurious country house hotels in Ireland. One of the leading luxury hotels in Wexford, Marlfield House is set on 35 acres of grounds and woodlands offering guests 4 star luxury and personal service in scenic surroundings.


For more information please visit the Marlfield House website


Merrion Hotel-Dublin City

A Place In History

The Merrion is set in the heart of Georgian Dublin on Upper Merrion Street, The Main House is comprised of four meticulously restored Grade I Listed Georgian townhouses and a specially commissioned contemporary Garden Wing is arranged around two private period (hotels-history)

The houses were built in the 1760's by Lord Monck (Charles Stanley Monck) for wealthy Irish merchants and nobility. He lived in No. 22, which became known as Monck House. The most important of the four houses is, however, No. 24 Upper Merrion Street. This was leased to Garrett Wellesley, Earl of Mornington, in 1769, it has since been known as Mornington House. The house is remembered historically as being the birthplace of Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington.

Dublin in the 18th Century, A Renaissance

During the course of the 18th century, Dublin was transformed from a mediaeval town into one of the finest Georgian cities in Europe. It was an exciting and vibrant time. Peace and stability in the country had given rise to great social and economic activity. Dublin became a thriving capital city with a glittering social scene. Architecture was one of the major outward expressions of this vigorous revival of spirit. Dublin owes many of her great civic buildings to this era, and most of the imposing rosy brick streets and grand squares for which the city is famous were built at this time. Parallel with the burgeoning architecture, there was an upsurge in the intellectual life of the city. One of the results of this was the forming of the Dublin Society in 1731. The Society encouraged many different disciplines; it opened the Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin in 1731 and founded schools of drawing, ornament and architecture.

Large private houses and palatial public buildings provided the backdrop for a society enhanced by luminaries such as Dubliner Jonathan Swift, author of "Gulliver's Travels;" the composer Handel (whose "Messiah" was first performed in Dublin in 1742), Anglo-Irish playwright and novelist, Oliver Goldsmith (The Vicar of Wakefield was published in 1766), and Dublin-born dramatist Richard Sheridan, (his "The School for Scandal" opened in 1777). 

Lord Mornington himself contributed to this revived interest in the arts. In 1757, he established a musical society for "the entertainment of the aristocracy". He later became the first Professor of Music at Trinity College.

The Houses, Historic Detail

The four houses forming the Main House of this five star Hotel in Dublin are typical of domestic Georgian architecture in Ireland. The plain exteriors rely for effect on the carefully worked out classical proportions of the timber sash windows hotels-history_wellesleydoor.jpg (hotels-history)and their relation to the whole façade. The doorcases, with their varied treatment and intricate beautiful fanlights, were where the builder could impose some individuality on the building.

The architectural detail of the houses clearly indicates the progression of their construction. No. 21 has intricate rococo plasterwork and a particularly heavy staircase. The detail lightens as one progresses along the terrace, although No. 22, the first to be built, is an exception. Here the main stair hall and the principal reception rooms have much lighter detailing, in the neo-classical, Adam style. In the midst of this lighter decoration, there are examples of heavier detail, such as the intricate Corinthian cornice in the stairwell, and the superb third floor room with coved ceilings and dramatic rococo plasterwork. Monck House was "modernised" in the late 18th century or the beginning of the 19th century. No. 23 was also "modernised" thirty or forty years after completion. The reception rooms in particular changed after 1790 when the windows were enlarged, window boxes and shutters modified and connections made to the front room. The removal of the principal stairs and hall inside the front door may have been done later in order to increase the number of rooms in the house.

For more information please visit the Merrion Hotel website


Mount Juliet Country House Estate-Co. Kilkenny

mount juliet exterior

This magnificent Georgian mansion was named by the Earl of Carrick after his wife Juliana, who was always known as Juliet. Their home set on a hill overlooking the River Nore evokes old-fashioned grace from every inch.

Close to the house are the Rose Garden Lodges and the Clubhouse Rooms, the original hunting stables of the old estate and now the heart of Mount Juliet's sporting and leisure activities.

This part of Ireland has very strong Norman associations and in particular with the great Butler family, who have played a large part in the history of Mount Juliet. The estate as we know it today was originally two separate estates - Walton's Grove and Ballylinch - each with its own separate history.

The Waltons were an ancient Norman family who owned Oldtown, the townland in which Mount Juliet is set. They changed the name Oldtown to Walton's Grove. They were here for centuries, until Oliver Cromwell dispossessed William Walton in 1653. An unknown Cromwellian owned Walton's Grove for a short period but after the Restoration it became the property of James, Duke of York, later King James II.


An 18th Century Architectural Gem

Mount Juliet House is an architectural gem. Beyond the classical doorway of the main house, guests are drawn into an impressive entrance hall that pays tribute to 18th-century craftsmanship. Here the original features are complemented by a large mural, which celebrates the equine tradition and heritage of the estate and the surrounding countryside.


Interiors that Celebrate a Glorious Equestrian History

The panelled walls of the Tetrarch Bar recall a glorious equestrian past. The relaxed decor of the Major's Room and the Morning Room is enhanced by a wonderful collection of antiques, paintings and china sourced from the old estate and from auctions in Ireland, England, Spain and Italy.

For more information pleave visit the Mount Juliet Country Estate website

  • Phone: +353 56 7773000
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Moy House - Co. Clare

historical moy house

The history of Moy House can be traced back to the early nineteenth century when it was an elegant summer home to the landlord Sir Augustine Fitzgerald (The image on the right is circa 1910). The story goes that the architect’s plans for Moy got mixed up with plans for an Italian Villa so hence the Italian feel and somewhere by the sea on the Italian Rivera is the Anglo Irish version.

Major Studdert from Newmarket on Fergus ran the estate and was responsible for building the bridge across the road from the main entrance so that the West Clare Railway would stop especially for them. It is called the Major’s Bridge to this day. One of Major Studdert’s daughters is reputed to have had a row with her fiancée one night in front of the house and to have had thrown away her engagement ring. It is probably still here so make sure to keep a look out as you take a stroll around the gardens!


moy house


In 1933 the house was bought by the Daly family. Eventually the house came on the market in 1997. At this stage the Atlantic elements had taken their toll on it and it was looking every one of its 200 years. It was bought by the current owner Antoin O’Looney who was born and reared in Lahinch. As a child Antoin and his friends would come up to Moy House to collect the apples and conkers so this house holds a wealth of happy memories for him. The long and arduous refurbishment took almost two years to complete.In order to use its basic two story plan he had to excavate more than six thousand cubic feet of ground. This was in effect a small hill which enclosed the entire basement area and shut off the view of the ocean. With all that soil now making up a lawn field sloping towards the shore the house is given a much more dramatic elevation.

Each of the nine bedrooms have been named after some of the local townlands owed by Sir Augustine Fitzgerald


For more information please visit the Moy House website


The Mustard Seed - Co. Limerick

mustard seed exterior

Nestled in the heart of the Co. Limerick countryside is The Mustard Seed, a converted 19th century convent. The celebrated and comfortable Echo Lodge is set on ten acres of mature trees, herbaceous borders, orchard and kitchen garden. 

Originally, Echo Lodge was a long thatched dwelling located in what is now the kitchen garden. The foundations of this house are still evident and annually pose impermeable difficulty for the gardeners! This house was a stopping house for Lord Kerry.

It is well documented that Ballingarry village was hugely affected by the great famine of 1845. Much of the population of the village and surrounding countryside suffered badly during this time.

In 1885, the parish priest, Rev. Timothy Ryan Shanahan built the present Echo Lodge as a parochial house. It is reputed that he built it to irritate the protestant rector who lived across the road in the Glebe House. The stones used in the building of Echo Lodge came from the nearby ‘Grove House’, a soup kitchen during the famine. The cost of the building was £3,000, much of which was raised in America. Having already another fine residence ‘The Turret House’ close by, Rev. Shanahan sold Echo Lodge to the Mercy order of nuns for 1penny.


mustard seed historical


A small primary school was added to the building and four nuns travelled from a sister convent in Abbeyfeale to take up residence. They travelled by train to Rathkeale and by horse drawn carriage to Ballingarry. The Redemptorist Fathers were giving a mission in the parish at the time and they organised the children in procession to the parochial house, which in turn became St. Mary’s convent. The local band played and when the carriage reached the grand entrance door Father Shanahan made a formal speech of welcome. Benediction was given in the front hall. Crowds who could not get in, knelt outside on the lawn. It was August 15th 1888.

The school’s attendance was often up to 300 pupils.

The mercy nuns operated this school until the 1970’s when the small community disbanded to neighbouring convents and Echo Lodge was a private residence for a brief period before it became idle.

The property was purchased by Daniel Mullane in 1994 and opened as The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge in spring of 1995.


For more information please visit the Mustard Seed website


Newforge House-Co. Armagh

newforge house historical

Newforge House is a Georgian Country House, built c. 1785 and has been handed down for six generations. The present owners John and Louise Mathers undertook two years of extensive renovations before opening Newforge House to guests in May 2005. In converting the family home they have undertaken sensitive restoration works to seamlessly blend original period features and antiques with contemporary luxuries and facilities.


For more information please visit the Newforge House website


Newport House-Co. Mayo

newport house exrerior

For 200 years this country estate was home to a branch of the O'Donel family, descended from the fighting Earls of Tyrconnell and cousins of the famous 'Red Hugh' of Irish history. They were transplanted from Ulster to Mayo by Oliver Cromwell.

During the first half of the Nineteenth Century the Cathach, the 'Battle Book of the O'Donels' was kept in Newport House. Part of a copy of the Book of Psalms dating from abut 560 AD, it is believed to be the actual handiwork of St Columbcille - Columba of Iona - who was himself a price of the O'Donels; its name derives from the legend that when carried into battle it brought victory to this family. In 1691 an O'Donel who had fought at Limerick took it with him into exile in France, and a century later it was found and brought back to Sir Neal O'Donel of Newport. His grandson deposited it in the Royal Irish Academy.

The names of the O'Donels are to be found on the Army Rolls of Europe and America, and the last heir of this branch Captain George Frederick Thomas O'Donel, Military Cross and Mons Star was killed at Ypres in 1915.

Between the first and second World Wars a party of anglers used to assemble every year at Holyhead and travel thence to Ireland and the fishing of Co Mayo. Among them was the late Henry Mumford-Smith, who came occasionally to Newport.

He formed a desire to return permanently to the scene of so much sport and friendly association; and this hope was realised in 1945 when Newport House and its fishery were put up for sale by the Irish American owner, who had purchased them from the widow of Captain O'Donel. He found a colourful house retaining the mellowness of gracious times, and he filled hard happy years in restoring the estate and fishery for a new purpose. This work was continued by his son the late Francis Mumford-Smith and wife Eleanor.


In 1985 the estate was purchased by Kieran and Thelma Thompson, the present owners, who have opened their home to guests thus enabling others to experience the atmosphere, the elegance and the hospitality afforded by such an historic Country House.


For more information please visit the Newport House website

  • Phone: +353 98 41222
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Park Hotel Kenmare-Co. Kerry

park hotel exterior

The 19th Century Victorian building was constructed in 1897 by the Great Southern and Western Railway Company to accommodate passengers travelling to Parknasilla 17 miles away.  The location was chosen for its stunning views, proximity to the town and park like setting.  The gentry travelled from England in their private carriages by train which terminated at Kenmare.  Guests would stay one night in Kenmare to relax in the idyllic setting before they embarked on their horse and carriage trip to Parknasilla.  In the late 1950's the company added 36 bedrooms but in 1977 when due to successive bad tourist seasons the hotel was closed.In 1980 the hotel was sold and refurbishment began under the direction of a Swiss consortium.  The hotel re-opened in early 1980 and the "Park Hotel Kenmare" was born.  Quickly gaining a reputation for providing the highest of international standards the Park Hotel Kenmare was firmly established as one of Ireland's premier hotels under the direction of the then manager Mr. Francis Brennan and his young team.

In 1986 Mr. Brennan purchased the Hotel from the Swiss consortium.  Since re-opening the Hotel has won many accolades for its professional and personalised service.  Of the accolades the Egon Ronay "Hotel of the Year" for Great Britain and Ireland (the only Irish Hotel to have ever won this award) in 1988 and R.A.C. Hotel of the Year 1996 by Egon are amongst the most prestigious.  John Brennan, Francis’s brother joined the hotel as General Manager in 1994.

park hotel

In his quest for superior guest comfort Mr. Brennan undertook a refurbishment programme in 1990 that saw 30 of the bedrooms built in the late 1950's double in size.  This and subsequent developments like our recent addition of 160sqft verandahs to 15 Garden rooms ensure guests enjoy the most modern facilities in period surroundings.

In 1993 the adjoining Kenmare Golf Club developed an 18 hole golf course of excellent quality in association with the Park Hotel Kenmare.  The Hotel also has a Motor Cruiser on Kenmare Bay for exclusive guest use. Since October 2003 the hotel opened Ireland’s first Deluxe Destination Spa, SÁMAS.  Located adjoining the hotel on a wooded knoll the 10,000sqft design takes full advantage of the wonderful setting. 


For more information please visit the Park Hotel website

Rathmullan House-Co. Donegal

rathmullan house historical

Built in 1820 as a summer house for the family of Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Knox, Rathmullan House has a long and fascinating history. It was soon bought by a branch of the Batt family (see Batt's Bar and the portrait of the lovely Charlotte) founders of the Belfast Bank, who lived there for over a century. Having then been used by a group who organised walking tours it was bought by Bob and Robin Wheeler, parents of Mark and William, in 1962. Along with the house came Seamus the donkey, who stayed on to carry visitor's luggage from the pier when Bob and Robin renovated the house to become a 21-bed hotel.

Lovingly cared for by all its owners the house has undergone several sensitive expansions since 1820, the most recent being a stylish extension in 2004, which saw the addition of ten bedrooms in a new wing and a room for conferences and private dining.


For more information please visit the Rathmullan House website


Rathsallagh House-Co. Wicklow

rathsallagh house

Rathsallagh House has had a long history of settlement.  Archaeological evidence indicates that it has been continuously occupied for at least 3,000 years. Christianity found a home in Rathsallagh, perhaps as early as the 5th century.  Early Christian cross-inscribed slabs have been recorded in the old burial ground near the house, although unfortunately they have since disappeared.  A small rath or circular bank of earth can still be found at Rathsallagh itself. At 27m (80’) in diameter, it is typical of an early Christian (5th-8th century) farmstead.  In fact, Rathsallagh may derive its name from this rath, as the name translates from Irish as Raith Salach or ‘dirty (miry) fort’.  The ‘dirt’ or ‘mire’, probably refers to the old burial ground which has pagan/pre-Christian associations.  In fact tales of hauntings in the old burial ground have survived in local folklore down to the present day

Rathsallagh was first recorded in 1172-76 when it was listed as a grange or farm attached to the Abbey of Glendalough.  However the farm was probably already in existence from the late 7th century when Rathsallagh became a daughter house (paruchia) of the Abbey.  By the early 1200s, the estate passed into the control of laymen, and by 1326 the earls of Kildare rented Rathsallagh for 70 shillings ‘and two pounds of wax’. 

Following the rebellion of the Kildare earls, and Henry VIII’s confiscation of church property in the 16th Century, Rathsallagh was repossessed by the Crown.  The estate was re- granted to the Piphoe family, crown seneschals (military governors) of west Wicklow.  By the 17th Century the estate passed to the Ryves family, a prominent legal family with close associations with Oxford University.  The first documented reference to the Ryves family dates from 1632 when Sir William Ryves was granted the license to hold a market at Rathsallagh on the Feast of St. Bartholomew.

rathsallagh house garden


This fair continued for almost 300 years. By the early 1700s Richard Ryves, former Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland, had made sufficient money to retire from the law and settle as a gentleman-farmer in Rathsallagh.  The original Rathsallagh manor house, with out-buildings and stables, was built around this time, ca. 1703-04. The Ryves family continued in residence as local landlords until 1830 when the last of the line, William Ryves, passed the estate out of the family.  Thomas Ryves, William’s father had an infamous reputation, as he had ordered the massacre of over 30 prisoners at Dunlavin Green during the 1798 Rebellion.


Unusually, Rathsallagh House and demesne came through the rebellion unscathed. However, shortly after the rebellion, an accidental fire destroyed the original manor house (ca 1802-03).  The out-buildings and stables, were then converted into a modest gentleman’s residence. William Ryves, the last of the Ryves family resident at Rathsallagh got seriously into debt possibly through gambling or some other secret vice. Ryves’ debts were covered by Edward Pennefather, and in return Pennefather inherited Rathsallagh house and demesne after 1830. Edward Pennefather was a Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench, and a Privy Councillor.  He presided over the trial of Daniel O’Connell and Gavin Duffy in 1845, and his guilty verdicts made him a hate figure at that time.  He retired soon afterwards, and died in 1847.

Throughout the 19th Century, the farms of the Estate were well built with considerable acreage and the tenants were mainly prosperous farmers.  One of the Ryves family’s last acts as landlords was to stop the practice of sub-letting land to smaller farmers, and between the 1820s and 1830s the estate population dropped from over 1000 to nearly 300.  The Pennefather’s likewise forbade subletting, so that although the population of Rathsallagh Estate fell by a third during the Famine of 1845-49, the worst effects were curbed. Rathsallagh Estate remained prosperous, and it was not until the 1920s that the estate lands were sold off to its tenants, leaving the house with the demesne and some outlying townlands.  This effectively cut up the integrated estate of Rathsallagh, which as we have seen, had its origins in early Christian times and had lasted approximately 1,500 years.


The Pennefather family remained at Rathsallagh until 1961, ( the last was Harold Wilfred Armine Freese Pennefather, British Ambassador to Luxembourg, Harolds farther , who was a clergy man in London died on the tennis court  in Rathsallagh while on holidays here in the 1930’s) when the Funk family from Germany bought the estate. They established an annual Vintage Car Rally, from Monte Carlo to Rathsallagh, and back again, and in turn sold the estate in 1968 to Jacobus Haverhals (Dutch National).  Haverhals was a very frequent visitor to Rathsallagh, using the land for the breeding of cattle and horses. 



For more information please visit the Rathsallagh House website


In 1979 the O’Flynn family purchased Rathsallagh House and demesne, and in 1985 began to take in paying guests on a Farm House Bed and Breakfast basis, a restaurant was opened soon after that. After a long conversation with Peter Thompson OBE in the bar at Rathsallagh Joe O’Flynn Snr had a dream to build a Golf Course and so it came to pass that in 1995, with the assistance of course designers Christy O’Connor

Tankardstown House-Co. Meath

tankardstown house exterior

Tankardstown Demesne Historical Background

Tankardstown House lies near the ground where the historic Battle of the Boyne was fought in the year 1690.  Tankardstown was formed from land confiscated in the 17th Century from Irish or Hiberno – Norman families, principally the Teelings. This was deliberate political purpose to transfer the land and therefore the power of Ireland to a new class of people who would effectively protect English interests in Ireland. These landlords consolidated their holdings into Demesnes and usually built a large house as a centre point. 

Tankardstown however was never a principle “seat” of an Anglo Irish landed family until the 19th Century. Situated close to the village of Slane, 35 miles north of Dublin in rich agricultural land, it formed part of a grant of land to John Osbourne in 1686. It passed to the Coddington family by marriage in 1710. The Coddington’s main house was at Oldbridge on the Boyne near to Drogheda. They were content to lease Tankardstown. By the mid 18th Century it was effectively owned by the Morris family and by 1791, Brabazon Morris (eldest son of Joseph) had mortgaged Tankardstown for the amount of £4,500 sterling to a London financier, Henry Ellis.  In 1815 the mortgage was bought out and Tankardstown was sold to a wealthy Dublin based lawyer, Francis Blackburne, as his country residence. Blackburne’s successful career culminated by being appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Blackburne, apart from a townhouse in Dublin, lived in Rathfarnham Castle.


tankardstown map


Blackburne initially treated Tankardstown as a secondary residence and an investment in land. He did however extend the neo-classical villa which had been built, by Brabazon Morris in 1789, in part on the foundations of it is believed a tenth century castle, close to the pre-existing extensive stone built yards which were built in 1745. The original villa is consistent with the work of Francis Johnson (b.1760). Johnson firmly grounded in the 18th Classical tradition worked on or designed some of the best buildings in Co. Meath. Close to Tankardstown are Townley Hall and Slane Castle, the former completely by Johnson, very probably his masterpiece, and the latter with interiors by Johnson. By 1880 the Blackburne family regarded Tankardstown as their main home and carried out in 1881/2 the extensive additions, refurbishment and redecoration. A large extension was planned to more than double the house in size but due to technical problems the work was not completed, leaving the composition unbalanced. This work was finally completed by the current owners. 

It passed in the 20th Century, by marriage, to the Townshend family who sold off the house and built and lived in smaller houses on the land. The Townshends donated land to the local G.A.A club and local community hall. The building of the hall was sponsored by the Carnegie foundation of the U.S.A and both are still used and appreciated to this day.


Multiple family ownership meant that the garden and yards were separated from the house and the Demesne lost its coherence and became neglected. It was finally sold in 2002 to the present owners, Brian and Patricia Conroy, who set about its restoration. 

For more information please visit the Tankardstown House website