Glanleam House, Valentia Island, Co Kerry
Country House Bed & Breakfast Valentia Island, Co Kerry
Glanleam was built as a linen mill in 1775 and later converted into a house by the Knight of Kerry, who planted the magnificent sub-tropical gardens. In 1975 Meta Kreissig bought the estate which had declined for 50 years. She rescued the house, restored and enlarged the garden and, with her daughter Jessica, made it a delightful place to stay, with a mixture of antique and contemporary furniture and an extensive library. The setting looking out over the harbour is magical. There are green fields, a beach and a lighthouse, and Valentia Island is connected to the Kerry mainland by a car ferry and a bridge.
Glanleam was converted into a country house by the 19th Knight of Kerry (1808-1889). His father had developed the famous Valentia slate quarry (the slates were especially in demand for billiard tables, then very much in vogue). The Knight, an enthusiastic botanist, recognised the unique potential of the island’s microclimate for sub-tropical plants and laid out a fifty acre garden, using species just introduced from South America. His efforts won him great acclaim at the time and today his gardens have matured into dense woodlands.
Together Meta Kreissig and her daughter Jessica have refurbished the house, furnishing it with an amalgam of antique and modern pieces, and opened it to guests. There is an extensive library, several of the rooms have their original Valentia slate chimneypieces, and the bedrooms have luxurious Bonasck designer bathrooms. The gardens have also benefited from their attention. One recent visitor described the ‘radial planting of vegetables’ in the centre of the walled kitchen garden as ‘a jewel’.
Valentia Island has many Megalithic monuments: standing stones, cairns and wedge tombs, along with remains of beehive huts from the early Christian period. In more recent times the first transatlantic cable was laid by the world’s largest ship, The Great Eastern, in 1865, connecting Valentia with Newfoundland (and London and Europe with America.) A dramatic recent discovery is the ‘Tetrapod Trackway’; 150 footprints which show the path taken by a prehistoric dinosaur which came ashore on Valentia more than 350 million years ago.
Boat trips to the Skelligs and horse riding can be arranged, as can fly fishing for salmon and sea trout in Lough Currane and deep sea fishing far off-shore while, for golfers, the famous Waterville Links is just one of the many easily reachable courses in the area.
Glanleam is situated in an unrivalled location, with splendid gardens, a private beach, a lighthouse and acres of green fields and dramatic scenery of great natural beauty which combine to make it the perfect place to refresh body and soul.