If it’s acknowledged that a house should be a reflection of its owner, then the success of these Irish hotels speak volumes about the families who own and manage them …
Shelburne Lodge, Co Kerry
Tom and Maura Foley have been welcoming guests to their multi award-winning Georgian country house, which is a five-minute walk from Kenmare town, since the mid-1990s. The Lodge offers comfort and elegance in historic surroundings with contemporary Irish art, antiques, individually appointed ensuite rooms with restored polished wooden floors overlooking mature trees and gardens. Breakfast is a highlight cooked by Maura, who has always pioneered fresh local produce and also created three renowned restaurants in Kenmare: The Purple Heather (now run by Maura’s sister Grainne), The Lime Tree and Packie’s (soon to be a new food venture). Most recently Maura published My Wild Atlantic Kitchen, Recipes & Recollections – a lovely gift and memento of a stay. Rates are from €140- €170 for two per night including breakfast; www.shelburnelodge.com.
Ballyvolane House, Co Cork
The history of Ballyvolane dates back to 1728 when the Pyne family built the house and lived here until 1953. At that time it was bought by the late Cyril Hall Green (known as Squirrel Green) and his wife Joyce on their return from Malaya, where Squirrel had managed rubber plantations since the 1920s. Ballyvolane was passed on to Squirrel’s son, Jeremy, who ran it as a dairy farm until the mid 1980s when it became one the founding members of “Hidden Ireland” – a useful guide if you are looking for private, polished properties. Ballyvolane was managed as a successful country house bed and breakfast by Jeremy and his wife, Merrie, until January 2004, when the reins were handed to his son Justin and his wife, Jenny, both experienced international hoteliers. Three generations of the Green family now live at Ballyvolane House. Accommodation in the Main House for a double room including breakfast starts at €250, and a four-course dinner is €67.50; www.ballyvolane.ie.
Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, Co Cork
Des O’Dowd is the owner of Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa which has been operating since 1998. Located just outside Clonakilty in West Cork, the hotel has a unique setting with panoramic views of the Atlantic ocean, surrounded by sprawling Blue Flag beaches. It’s no wonder the hotel has been the recipient of many accolades including “Ireland’s Leading Spa Resort” at the World Travel Awards, “Ireland’s Leading Resort” at the Irish Hospitality Awards and “Best Four Star Hotel” at the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards. To sample the hotel yourself, try its “Seaside Adventures” package, which combines two nights accommodation in a deluxe room with breakfast each day in the Gulfstream Restaurant plus one of three seaside adventures: kayaking, surfing or whale watching. In the evening indulge in the heated seawater therapy pool and relaxation areas. From €250 per person; www.inchydoneyisland.com.
Dunmore House Hotel, Co Cork
A little slice of heaven on the west coast is how Dunmore House is described. The family business is helmed by Carol Barrett and her son Peter, the fourth generation to work at the hotel, who ensure their guests are well looked after whether in the 30-bedroom main property or in the self-catering cottages. Barrett can have a range of homemade dishes stocked in the fridge on arrival at the cottages, which includes a breakfast box with free range eggs, homemade bread and jam, and yogurts. As for what to do – there are ten beaches to explore, or you could curl up with a book and listen to the sound of the sea. There is very limited availability for the summer at this stage but the cottages are ideal for an autumn getaway. From €195 per night; www.dunmorehousehotel.ie.
The Station House Hotel, Co Meath
Tucked away in the quaint village of Kilmessan on the acclaimed Boyne Valley Drive, The Station House Hotel sits on twelve acres of manicured gardens and woodlands, listed on the Boyne Valley Garden Trail. This family-owned hotel originally bought by Thelma and Chris Slattery, who are very much involved on a daily basis, have passed the business on to the next generation, with two of their children, daughters Suzanne and Denise now managing the hotel. The hotel recently had a stunning refurbishment, which fuses Irish country house chic with eclectic influences from the Middle East, India, and beyond. One reason very good reason to visit is the next Boyne Valley Tasting Evening on August 21, which takes place in the Signal Restaurant, where service a la russe and exquisite dishes from local producers are guaranteed. These include suppliers like the Wooden Pig meats, Drummond House garlic and asparagus, Bee Wise Honey to name a few. The tempting “Wine, Dine, and Stay” package is from €200 per person; www.stationhousehotel.ie.
Wineport Lodge, Co Westmeath
In 1993 Jane English and her husband Ray Byrne built Wineport Lodge in Glasson, on the shores of Lough Ree. The lodge now has a national profile, and featured in the television series, The Restaurant. As a luxury bolthole guests can make the most of the rural local landscape and borrow bikes from Wineport to explore the countryside before unwinding at the treatment suite with an array of Voya treatments and therapies. (A rejuvenating seaweed bath is available to enjoy in your room for just €25). The dining room attracts foodies from far and wide; it is rustic in style, unpretentious and always generous on the plate. In the morning, a breakfast can be served in bed with the sounds of Lough Ree providing a charming morning soundtrack. Outside artist Niall Leavy has reimagined the Glasshouse into a stained-glass work of art. It is a colourful space for people to enjoy a socially distant drink or a light bite to eat. Wineport Lodge is currently offering an “Eat, Sleep, Relax” package that includes complimentary use of bikes and a boat for on and off shore exploration on Lough Ree. The package includes two nights bed and breakfast and one night dinner starting from €750. For a night away with dinner at Wineport Lodge, prices start at €360; www.wineport.ie.
Burtown House & Gardens, Co Kildare
Once the centre of a 2,000 acre estate built for Robert Power, High Sheriff of Kildare, Burtown House & Gardens has been in the Fennell family since the 18th century, and is famously close to the Quaker village of Ballytore. Of note is its lovely walled kitchen garden, which has been in production for over 150 years. The Nutgrove, once a romantic garden in the 18th century, is perhaps the oldest part of the garden and is now being replanted. Neighbouring fields are also being devoted to arboretums, woodland walks, wildflower meadows and ponds. Present owners are James and Jo Fennell who have decorated the Stable Yard House accommodation with character. The house and rooms, suitable for up to six people, are from €240, and are full of family art and antiques, giving an old-world feel with cosy touches like open fires, wood burning stoves and an Aga in the kitchen. The separate Studio Apartment sleeps two people, from €190. All guests of the Stable Yard have access to the gardens; www.burtownhouse.ie.
Marlfield House, Co Wexford
Built in 1830, Marlfield House was the principal residence of the Earls of Courtown in Ireland for generations. In May 1977 Mary and Ray Bowe purchased the property from the Earls and renovated it before opening with eleven bedrooms in May 1978. The magnificent Turner-style conservatory was added in 1982 and six sumptuous state bedrooms in 1989. In 2009, sisters Margaret and Laura Bowe took over the running of the hotel and in 2015 they converted the courtyard buildings into the Duck Terrace Restaurant. In 2017 “Duck Lodge”, an original dwelling on the grounds, was renovated into a luxurious two-bedroom cottage overlooking the gardens. There are five new Pond suites, which launched earlier this year, comprising four one-bed and one two-bed suites, all have very large patio terraces facing onto the pond. Ornithologists and botanists will enjoy the views and bon viveurs the cuisine. A totally pampering break is guaranteed and prices are from €400. Other packages include dinner in The Duck restaurant and The Conservatory restaurant from €498; www.marlfield.ie.
The Old Ground Hotel, Co Clare
Located in the heart of Ennis town, The Old Ground is the perfect base to explore the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, the Shannon, and the Wild West – no more than a 20-to-30-minute trip from the hotel. The beautifully restored 18th-century Manor House hotel, owned by the Flynn Family, is full of character, and has a “home away from home” feel. There is an extensive art collection, a private library to snuggle up with a book and a pretty Poet’s Garden for dining al fresco. A new wellness space called Le Petit Spa is launching to provide some extra pampering. A three-night “Family Staycation” package is from €749.99 for a family of four and includes bed and breakfast, with dinner on an evening of choice. This package also includes a surf lesson for children in Lahinch with Ben’s Surf Clinic, a trip to Aillwee caves and the “Birds of Prey” for the entire family, and a day trip to Bunratty, which includes complimentary entry for all to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park. A four-night break includes an additional activity – a boat trip to Inis Oir on the Aran Islands plus a Cliffs of Moher Cruise – from €1,070 for a family of four; www.oldgroundhotelennis.com.
Newforge House, Co Armagh
Newforge House has been in owner John Mathers’ family for six generations. An excellent example of an idyllic Georgian country house, it is ivy-clad and set in 40 acres of lush grounds with mature gardens, while indoors, many original features have been retained creating a sense of gentility and intimacy. Chilling out is encouraged, while comfort is assured. The house has just six individually decorated bedrooms, many containing family heirlooms, which boast modern bathrooms, and a pillow menu. This five-star service is matched by the first class food. Meals are prepared by John, a trained chef, using seasonal local produce and vegetables grown at Newforge House. Dinner is legendary – served at 8pm, guests are requested to arrive at 7.30pm for a drink in the drawing room first. (Choose from a list of some 30 gins and 21 whiskies). While the dinner menu has a few choices of starter, main course and pudding, less is decidedly more in this case. A midweek “dusk til dawn” special offer is from £240 total stay and includes overnight accommodation, afternoon tea on arrival and three course dinner in the evening; www.newforgehouse.com.
Lyrath Estate, Co Kilkenny
Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny is owned by Xavier McAuliffe and his wife Lorraine and the property celebrates its 15th anniversary this year with many of the same staff who first opened the doors with the McAuliffes in 2006 still working there. Combining the charm of a country estate (it was built in the 18th century) with contemporary facilities and luxuries, many of the 141 spacious bedrooms have views across the 170 acres of mature parkland. This summer the McAuliffe’s have added another 32 bedrooms to the estate and also a newly built Lodge at Lyrath. Facilities include a 17-metre swimming pool, Oasis Spa as well as The Hawkeye School of Falconry and a 22-seater private cinema. Al fresco dining is offered on the terrace, overlooking Lady Charlotte’s Garden; the formal garden was named after the previous resident of Lyrath, Lady Charlotte Isabel Wheeler-Cuffe, who was an amateur botanical artist, plant collector and avid gardener. Enjoy an overnight escape with a “Hawk Walk” at Hawkeye School of Falconry. This package includes accommodation, breakfast with a three course table d’hote dinner in one of the hotel restaurants. Experience a private 60 minute “Hawk Walk Experience” at the site Falconry School. From €230 per person sharing; www.lyrath.com.
Hunters Hotel, Co Wicklow
Olde worlde charm, friendly service and good food combine at Hunter’s, the oldest coaching inn in Ireland, which has been in the same family (the Gelletlies) for five generations. It’s one of my favourite haunts and I especialy love checking in and immediately having a warm scone and cream on the lawn. Not the fancy Afternoon Tea version of this – just authentic and appetising and more-ish. There’s just enough time to digest this initial treat and wander around the grounds admiring the mature gardens and enviable vegetable patch before dinner is served each evening at 7.30pm. The menu changes daily with a few options for each course, using homegrown produce. As for rooms, they overlook the gardens and are tranquil and adequate for an overnight break, especially if you want to visit Mount Usher gardens, Russborough, Kilruddery, Glendalough or Powerscourt. Accommodation starts from €140 per person including dinner and breakfast; www.hunters.ie.
Enniscoe House, Co Sligo
Enniscoe House is situated on the shores of Lough Conn, with views of the lake across the parkland. It is known as “the last Great House of North Mayo” and the estate has been in the same family since the 1650s, while the classical Georgian house dates from the 1790s. Current owners, Susan Kellett and her son DJ, are happy to share their house and grounds with guests. Check in and enjoy elegant reception rooms and fine bedrooms with stunning views. Outside are shrubberies, miles of woodland and lakeside walks, a carefully-restored pleasure garden and an organic vegetable garden. There is also a small agricultural museum, tearoom and shop on the premises, and the genealogy centre that researches names and families of Mayo origin. From €95 for bed and breakfast per person sharing; www.enniscoe.com.
Ballymaloe Hotel and Restaurant, Co Cork
Ballymaloe has been the Allen family home since the late Myrtle and Ivan Allen bought the house and farm in 1948. They raised their family of six children (Tim, Tash, Yasmin, Wendy, Rory, and Fern) at Ballymaloe House and many of them and their children are very much involved in every aspect of this family business. Myrtle and Ivan opened their family dining room to the public in 1964 with a small advertisement in the local newspaper “Dine in a Country House”. They acquired a license to sell wine at this time too. The license to sell spirits came with eleven bedrooms in 1966. These bedrooms became available as the children went to boarding school or left home. Since then, of course, Ballymaloe has accrued accolades, added bedrooms, a conservatory and hosted literary, arts and music events. Fern Allen, who is Myrtle and Ivan’s youngest daughter, is now involved at management level in the restaurant and Hazel Allen’s daughter, Roisin Berner-Allen, took over the housekeeping management this year. Hazel managed Ballymaloe House for over 40 years. Meanwhile Dervilla O’Flynn (who is married to Myrtle and Ivan’s grandson Sacha Whelan) is head chef. All rooms are simple and elegant decorated with paintings of contemporary and classic Irish artists such as Louis Le Brocquy, Nora McGuinness and Pat Scott. There are several packages on offer including a two night midweek break which includes bed and breakfast and one dinner from €720 per couple sharing; www.ballymaloe.ie.
Coopershill House, Co Sligo
Coopershill has been in the O’Hara family since it was built in 1774 and Simon O’Hara is the seventh generation to call it home. Simon’s wife Christina, who trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School, is responsible for the fine food offering enjoyed by all guests. Completing the family is Juno, a rescue Collie, who greets all of the guests. The property sits on a 500 acre estate brimming with wildlife. The house, with seven bedrooms, can be rented privately for a minimum of two nights, from €2,100 per night. For keen kayakers, Coopershill is ideally situated to explore Lough Gill and its islands, bays and tranquil forests; there is a two night kayak package from €550. For poetry lovers, of course, Coopershill is in the middle of WB Yeats country. Currently on offer is a three night Walking in Yeats country “the land of heart’s desire” from €705, based on two people sharing; www.coopershill.com.
Kelly’s Resort Hotel & Spa, Co Wexford
Overlooking five miles of sandy beaches, Kelly’s Resort Hotel and Spa has built a reputation for customer service over the last 126 years and has been the setting for many memorable multi-generational family holidays. The Hotel, which started as a tea room in 1895 by the Kelly family, was first managed by William Kelly and later by his son Nicolas who took over the reins in the 1920s. 1953 saw the mantle pass to the third generation of Kellys, when Nicolas’s son Billy – a true legend in the trade – began running the hotel with his wife Breda. Today their son Bill alongside his daughter Laura are at the helm of this institution. While the hotel was closed during lockdown some renovations took place. The largest project was the redesign of the hotel entrance by LUCA Architects. A new outdoor dining concept “The Van@Kellys” was also introduced. This is a marquee with two food trucks and small bar allowing guests to dine outside for lunch or an afternoon treat. For non residents, the outdoor dining concept in La Marine was augmented, allowing for more outdoor dining. While the hotel has limited availability, spring 2022 rates are from €140 per person plus a small service charge (which includes dinner, bed and breakfast); www.kellys.ie.
The Kildare House Hotel, Co Kildare
A relative newcomer to the scene is Kelly Moran who purchased The Kildare House Hotel in 2019. Prior to this, Kelly had been leasing the property for six years. Once the purchase was complete she and her husband began to refurbish the 18th-century building – previously an infirmary until 1960 – redecorating 21 bedrooms and the public areas, which carefully blend the original features such as ceiling roses and original stucco work with new contemporary finishes. Most recently a new food outlet was added to the hotel: Soul Burger which offers a full vegan menu. The restaurant offers a “Soul” or “Soulless” menu (essentially vegan or meat options), cocktails, American style malts and has an extensive outdoor space for dining. Just minutes from Kildare Village and the Curragh Racecourse, this is a popular hotel with shoppers, racegoers and those looking for extensive vegan fare. Currently on offer is the “Shop, Dine and Stay” package from €79.50 per person sharing for bed and breakfast, a VIP shopping card from Kildare Village and a three course evening meal; www.kildarehousehotel.ie.
Sign up to our MAILING LIST now for a roundup of the latest fashion, beauty, interiors and entertaining news from THE GLOSS MAGAZINE’s daily dispatches.