Category Archives: Uncategorised

Lismore Opera Festival 2016

The Lismore Opera Festival perform an original production of Mozart’s beloved comic opera Cosi fan tutte on the 3rd and 4th of June in Lismore Castle’s stable courtyard and formal walled garden.
The Lismore Opera Festival’s mission is to provide world-class opera for people of all ages in a stunning country setting. Ticket Prices range from €85 to €200. Corporate packages are available.
To book: or Lismore Heritage Centre (058) 549475; Ackroyd Jewellers Lismore (058) 53888; The Wine Buff Dungarvan (058) 23523

Hidden Ireland for Wicklow Bed and Breakfast accommodation

Explore – Wicklow

County Wicklow is blessed with one of the countries most beautiful landscapes. It is the largest continuous upland region in Ireland, dotted with small lakes located in valleys and glacial corries. From coastal beaches to cliffs and hills, the “Garden of Ireland” is home to numerous attractions, including some of the best gardens and homes in Ireland and it offers a choice of activities as diverse as its landscape.

Things to do

With a combination of mountains, valleys, cliffs and beaches, it’s no wonder that Wicklow is one of Ireland’s best walking destinations. Many walking and hiking trails can be found throughout the county, along with cycling and mountain biking trails. Ballinastoe Mountain Bike trail system takes the rider through some beautiful forests with views over Calary Common and the Sugarloaf.

The rivers, lakes and streams that flow off the Wicklow Mountains offer plenty of opportunities for anglers and watersports enthusiasts. Formed 50 years ago by the building of the Poulaphouca Dam, the Blessington Lakes alone cover 500 acres of water. Kayaking, boating and sailing are some of the activities available.There are many clubs and outdooor adventure centres in the county that can help you plan your activities and explore the area.

With the sea for a backgroung, Glenmacnass Waterfall is a stunning scenic location and a popular photo stop for visitors touring along the uplands of the Wicklow Hills. Glenmalure Valley and Waterfall is a remote and wild valley and is the longest of its kind in Ireland and Britain. You’ll enjoy amazing scenery, and a fabulous view of the Carawaystick Brook Waterfall.

Down the road from Glenmalure visitors will encounter Avondale House and Forest Park, the birthplace of one of Ireland’s greatest ever political leaders of recent history, Charles Stweart Parnell. This 18th century Georgian house is set in 500 acres of mature woodland with trees from all over the world. The house is open to the public and it is now a museum.

3 km south of Bray you will find another stunning period house and gardens. Killruddery House and Gardens is a stunning mansion built in the 19th century, in the Elizabethan revival style and has one of the oldest gardens in Ireland. The gardens are filled with wonderful planting and wooded areas, water features and emblematic outdoor buidings. The garden is well known for its glasshouse, the Orangery, with an amazing display of plants and a collection of marble statues.

Set against the backdrop of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Powerscourt House & Gardend is one of the worlds greatest gardens. Powerscourt was design to complement the surrounding scenery and to be part of the wider landscape. From the ornate Italian Gardens to the formal walks of the Rose and Kitchen Gardens, Powerscourt will amaze you all year around. Only 5 km from the Estate, Powerscourt Waterfall is Ireland’s highest waterfall and the nearby picnic area and children’s playground makes it the perfect location for a family’s day out.

County Wicklow is also home to one of Ireland’s most important monastic sites – Glendalough Monastic City. Th earlier buildings go back as far as the 6th century, even though most of the buildings date back to 10th through 12th centuries. This Christian site was firstly established by St. Kevin and thrieved as one of Ireland’s greatest ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed it in 1214.

When you decide to come down from the mountains you may want to enjoy a walk along the seaside. The picturesque seaside town of Bray boasts a mile long beach promenade. The beach is dominated by Bray Head and its summit cross, with the Sugarloafs and the Wicklow Mountains in the background. If sea and sand is what you’re looking for, there’s no better place then Brittas Bay Beach. Brittas stretches for 5 km of sand and sand dunes, ferns and grassland areas of ecological interest. At the southern end of the town of Greystones lies the Greystones Beach. Half a mile long of sand and pebbles with an adjacent children’s playground.

There are many more reasons why you should come and visit county Wicklow, so why not come and see it for yourself?

Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses

Bed and Breakfast

The Manor

Drive southwards from Dublin through the gloriously rugged Wicklow Mountains and, at the foot of the famous Sally Gap, you’ll find The Manor, a rambling family home of great charmand character. The house was rebuilt in 1835 in the gabled Elizabethan-Gothic style and its large, comfortable, sunny rooms affordwonderful views of the surrounding countryside with the mountains as a backdrop. The owner, Margaret Cully, is an accomplished hostess, a fine cook and a dedicated gardener. The Manor is a superb base for the Three-Day Event at Punchestown, or for visiting Russborough, one of Ireland’ smost beautiful houses with an internationally important art collection.

Hidden Ireland for Wexford Bed and Breakfast accommodation

Explore – Wexford

Wexford is a county of many firsts and is the last place you should miss on an Irish tour.
Things to do
Welcome to our unspoilt scenic & historic County Wexford . Rich in culture and tradition, Wexford is the ideal location for unwinding from your busy schedule with the lowest rain fall of any county in Ireland !. So whether you are looking forward to a leisure break, a family holiday or some more specialist activities, a warm friendly welcome awaits all visitors to our sunny, special part of the world!

You can find a beach a day for a fortnight! And we’re not joking – if you’re looking for canoeing, windsurfing, snorkelling, scuba-diving, fishing, swimming, kite surfing or just relaxing in the sun, there is always a sheltered cove just waiting for you.

From undulating countryside to rolling waves, Wexford has it all. Rolling rich green fields and gardens open to visitors that blanket the peaceful idyll of rural Wexford slope gently downwards to a golden coast where the soft sand is in a timeless dance with the Irish Sea. County Wexford has been a tourism mecca for Irish people for well over 130 years now!

Elsewhere, the county’s towns and villages are busy contemporary centres where historical buildings nod knowingly at modern architecture as locals and visitors alike partake in the rich tapestry of life that is Wexford today.

There are so many Cultural treasures to visit. Here are to name but a few; Tintern Abbey, The Dunbrody Famine Ship, The Ros Tapestry, Dunbrody Abbey, Duncannon Fort, Loftus Hall, Enniscorthy Castle.

Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses

Bed and Breakfast

Ballinkeele House
Ballinkeele is a fine, classical house of 1840 with an original interior, in imposing, game-filled parkland with tall trees, lakes, lawns and gardens–an idyllic rural location. It’ s the ancestral home of the Maher family and the present owner, Margaret, has maintained the house and grounds impeccably. The bedrooms are all large, relaxing and beautifully appointed, the reception rooms warmand inviting, while meals in the huge dining room are a highly enjoyable experience. Ballinkeele is the ideal base for exploring the delights of County Wexford, whether walking on Curracloe beach, or a night at Wexford Festival Opera.

Clonganny House
Clonganny House is a glorious Georgian gem nestled in the heart of the beach area of north Wexford in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. It is a classic Georgian country house, beautifully symmetrical, with a wide entrance hall giving onto the dining and drawing rooms, complete with generous sash windows, open fires, and all the cornices, coving, skirting and architraves a purist could wish for. The house was built by the infamous Hawtry ‘the alarmist’ White, a local magistrate with quite a reputation! He was declared an outlaw by the rebels of 1798 but evidently survived this, as an inscription in the brick barn shows he built it around 1823! At Clonganny House, guests can relax, unwind and enjoy the wonderful hospitality on offer from Philippe and Brona, the current owners. Philippe trained and worked in some of the best Michelin 3* establishments across the world, as well as running his own restaurant, prior to moving to Ireland, so the delicious food is a real focus of any visit. Beautifully restored and tastefully decorated, Clonganny House sits in its own gardens and parkland and provides luxury accommodation in 4 elegant and romantic en-suite guest rooms. These are located around the historic courtyard, in converted stable and coach house buildings. Each one is individually designed and fitted out to the highest standard and opens out to a delightful walled garden where guests can sit and enjoy the peaceful and serene space.

Kilmokea is a former Georgian rectory, in a quiet, rural location where the Three Sister Rivers, the Suir, Nore and Barrow, meet before flowing out into Waterford Harbour. It’s rightly renowned for its seven acres of award-winning gardens, with a wide range of unusual sub-tropical plants and wonderful organic vegetables.Nearby is beautiful Hook Peninsula, with excellent coastal walks and magnificent Blue Flag beaches, or you can stay at home and relax in our private indoor pool or with a soothing aromatherapy treatment. Kilmokea is an ideal base for Wexford Festival Opera, visiting the bird sanctuaries on the Great Saltee and the North Slob, or exploring the unspoiled South Wexford coast.

Woodbrook House
Woodbrook is a fine house in the shadow of the Blackstairs Mountains, west of Enniscorthy. It dates fromthe 1770’s but was damaged in the 1798 rebellion and substantially rebuilt. The result is a spacious, warm house with an exceptionally large drawing room–much used by guests and a dramatic ‘flying’ spiral staircase. The home cooked food is excellent (using largely organic and local produce) and the atmosphere relaxed and welcoming since the owners, Giles and Alexandra FitzHerbert, are experienced hosts and enjoy entertaining. Woodbrook makes a good base for the Wexford Festival Opera and for visiting this largely unspoilt region.

Bellfry At Old Boley
Situated in a secluded corner of the courtyard of a magnificent country house, The Bellfry, originally a granary, has now been converted to a beautiful, unique holiday apartment using authentic materials. Features all modern conveniences, a private terrace and evokes a feeling of old fashioned calm.

Rosegarland Estate
Rosegarland Estate is a unique hidden gem steeped in history. It is an old secluded 650 acre country estate located in South Wexford which is uniquely unspoilt and untouched by time. It offers visitors the opportunity to step back in time and enjoy some peace and tranquillity.

The Coach House at Kilmokea
Guests staying in the Coach House or Garden Suite on a self catering basis have access to our 7 acres of gardens.

Hidden Ireland for Westmeath Bed and Breakfast accommodation

Explore – Westmeath

Situated in the heart of Ireland, Westmeath boasts a ring of breathtaking scenery! Rolling hills, unspoilt countryside and wild boglands to diverse water features including picturesque lakes, tranquil canals and the mighty River Shannon.
Things to do
Overlooking the Shannon, dominating the town centre of Athlone, the Athlone Castle stands as the gateway to the West for over 800 years. This Norman castle was built in 1210 and still exhibits some elements of the original medieval fortification together with various additions and alterations made throughout the centuries to suit the different needs of the different historic periods that the castle has witnessed. The Castles Visitor Centre contains some educational displays on the Siege of Athlone with many elements of a military nature. Folk and musical items are also exhibited at the Visitors Centre, including two sheila-na-gigs. Visitors can also learn about the flora and fauna of the river Shannon.

The Shannon is the perfect setting for a multitude of activities, including boating and kayaking or simply walking along the river banks or relaxing aboard one of the many cruise boats available in the region. For a time travelling experience jump aboard a replica Viking longship dressed up in a full Viking costume and prepare to conquer the Shannon.

Many fisheries can be found across the county and trout fishing is specially popular in the loughs around Mullingar.

Like many other counties across Ireland, county Westmeath is home to some imposing houses and gardens, namely Belvedere House Gardens & Park. This is a fascinating 18th century Georgian estate on the shores of Lough Ennel and it was home to the infamous Robert Rochfort, later lord Belvedere in 1740. Rochfort accused his wife of having an affair with one of his brothers and put her in house arrest for 30 years. The Victorian Garden is a feast for the senses with tumbling herbaceous borders, rose garden, fragant herb garden and kitchen garden.

Tullinally Castle is a grandiose Gothic revival castle set in 12 hectares of gardens and parkland. The castle is closed to the public, but visitors are free to roam the gardens and park containing ornamental lakes and a Chinese and a Tibetan garden.
Another interesting attraction is the Lockes Distillery Museum, thought to be the oldest pot still distillery in the world. It began whiskey production from 1757 and continued until 1957. The museum offers a self-guided or guided tour and is open 7 days a week. The guided tour offers a look at the process of making distilled Irish whiskey, from beginning to end.

Mullaghmeen Forest is an isolated area of forest rising above the farm land of north Westmeath and is the largest planted beech forest in Ireland. Along with beech, Mullaghmeen also has Sitka spruce, Scots pine and noble fir and a very interesting native tree collection.
This 1,000 acre forest offers picnickers a shady haven in which to feast and provides the more energetic with scenic walks of varying length. The Red Trail takes you to the summit of Mullaghmeen and provides magnificent views north across Lough Sheelin and into the neighbouring county of Cavan.
The area is populated with grey squirrels, jays, badgers, foxes, pheasant, rabbit and hares, as well as a large selection of song birds. Come in spring for the best displays of woodland flowers, notably bluebells.

Visit Loughcrew Cairns, the best kept secret in archaeological Ireland.In a landscape of inspiring beauty and intriguing history, the cairns at Loughcrew form the largest complex of passage graves in Ireland.
Fore Abbey
In a tranquil, green valley in the village of Fore, about a 30-minute drive from Mullingar in County Westmeath, visitors can view the site where St Fechin founded a Christian monastery in the 7th Century. It’s believed that before his death, 300 monks lived in the community. Later, the monastery was set fire 12 times. Among the remains, visitors can see St Fechin’s church, built about 900. They will also find one of the 18 Fore crosses, which are spread out over 10 kilometres on roadways and in fields.

Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses

Bed and Breakfast

Lough Bawn House
A classic Georgian house in a unique setting. Lough Bawn house sits high above Lough Bane with amazing sweeping views. Nestled in a 50 acre parkland at the end of a long drive, Lough Bawn House is a haven of peace and tranquillity. The house and estate has been in the same family since it was built in 1820 by George Battesby, the current occupier, Verity’s, Great Great Great Grandfather. The house is being lovingly restored by Verity, having returned from England to live in the family home. Verity ran her own catering and events company in Gloucestershire for over 20 years. Her passion for cooking & entertaining shines through. Guests enjoy an extensive and varied breakfast with much of the ingredients being grown or reared by Verity herself, and delicious dinners are on offer. Breakfast is eaten in the large newly restored dining room, with wonderful views over the lough and of the parading peacocks on the rolling lawns. Both of the large, en-suite rooms have fine views down the length of Lough Bane and over the wooded hills. Guests are warmly welcomed and encouraged to relax in the homely drawing room in front of a roaring fire or to explore one of the many local historical sites, gardens, walks or cultural entertainments on offer. Several areas of the estate have been classified as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC‘s) due to the incredibly varied and rare flora. Wild flowers can be found in abundance and a charming fern walk has been the created amongst the woodland near the house.

Mornington House
Renowned for its warm hospitality and tranquility, Mornington captures the true spirit of Hidden Ireland amidst the sparkling lakes, rolling hills and ancient forests of County Westmeath. This has been the home of the O’Hara family since 1858 and is now in the careful stewardship of Warwick and Anne O’Hara. Meals are one of the highlights of staying at Mornington since Anne is a talented and imaginative cook who always insists on using prime ingredients. Guests enjoywalking to Lough Derravaragh, visiting the passage graves at Loughcrew, the remains of the early Christian site at Fore or Belvedere House and gardens.

Hidden Ireland for Waterford Bed and Breakfast accommodation

Explore – Waterford

Waterford County is a place of varied scenery with diverse attractions, set against the dramatic backdrop of the mountains and lakes of the Comeragh Range. The Crystal County will welcome you with open arms.
Things to do
On the banks of the river Suir, at the head of Waterford harbour, lies Waterford city, distinguished as the oldest city in Ireland with origins that date back to Viking times and monuments that have stood in its streets for more than a thousand years. Waterford’s most famous landmark is Reginald’s Tower. The tower is the oldest urban civic building in Ireland and the oldest monument to retain its Viking name. Built at the beginning of the 13th century, this is a circular defense tower and it has been used as a mint, a prison and a military store.

At the heart of Waterford city, visitors will encounter Waterford Crystal Visitors Centre, home to the world famous crystal. Take a tour through the factory and magic will unfold before your eyes, as exquisite pieces of crystal are created. Not surprisingly, the visitor centre houses the largest collection of Waterford Crystal in the world.

Before leaving the city make sure to stop at the Waterford Museum of Treasures. An inventive and ingenious multi-layered facility where history comes to life through displays of real artefacts and other media tools. Waterford’s history is narrated from the Viking era to modern day. Attend the reenactement of the wedding that would forever change the fate of Ireland, as the Norman warrior Strongbow marries local princess Aoife.

Waterford’s picturesque coastline is filled with a string of lively towns including the popular seaside resorts of Tramore, Dunmore East and Dungarvan. The Copper Coast European Geopark comprises 25 km of spectacular coastline composed of sandy beaches and coves. There are plenty of water activities to choose from such as diving, surfing, sailing, kayaking or wind surfing.

If you decide to explore the countryside, make sure to take an exciting journey through the rails of the Golden Age with the Waterford & Suir Vallley Railway. Starting in Kilmeadan, this trip will bring you along the banks of the River Suir, through the countryside where you will be able to enjoy fabulous scenery, including views of Mount Congreve Gardens and the Woodstown Viking site.

No visit to Waterford would be complete without a visit to Lismore Castle & Gardens. Set in breathtaking scenery the castle is designed in Gothic style and contains some of the finest examples of domestic Pugin furniture still in private hands. The castle is not open to the public, with the exception of the West wing, which was renovated to house a contemporary art gallery. The gardens are open to the public in the Summer months and are believed to be the oldest in Ireland. They maintain most of their original Jacobean form.

Nowhere will people find a wider variety of things to see and do than in Waterford. Soak up the sunshine, splash in crystal clear waters, explore ancient castles and abbeys, play on the golden stretches of beach and get busy with a wealth of watersports and adventure activities. This is the Sunshine County, this is Waterford.
Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses

Bed and Breakfast

Gaultier Lodge
Built in the dunes overlooking Woodstown Strand, Gaultier Lodge has a panoramic view over Waterford Harbour, from Duncannon Fort and Hook Head on theWexford shore to Creadan Head in County Waterford. This Regency house was built in the early 19th century as a nobleman’s seaside lodge. Unusually, the reception rooms are on the upper floor, which further accentuates the wonderful views. The large garden and lawns are completely private, with their own gate opening directly onto the beach. The owner, Sheila Molloy,is a keen horsewoman and an entertaining hostess. A fine cook, she will ensure that your stay is relaxing, enjoyable and memorable.

Hidden Ireland for Tipperary Bed and Breakfast accommodation

Explore – Tipperary

As it turns out, it’s not such a long way to Tipperary and there’s plenty of great reasons to visit. This is the Ireland you have been looking for – base yourself in any village or town in County Tipperary, relax with friends (and the locals) and take in all of Tipperary’s natural beauty. Make the iconic Rock of Cashel your first stop, then choose between castles and forest trails, mountain rambles or a pub lunch alongside lazy rivers.
Things to do
One of the minority of Irish counties not bordering a coast, Tipperary proves that there’s more to see than the sea in Ireland.

The Rock of Cashel boasts the most stunning medieval architecture and collection of Celtic art, unmatched in Europe. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland and featured in the Queen’s itinerary on her historic visit to Ireland in 2011.

Twenty minutes down the road in the town of Cahir are a few architectural treats which deserve a visit. First on the list is Cahir Castle. Built in 1142, it is one of the largest castles in Ireland and one of the best preserved. Scenically situated on the River Suir, it’s hard to imagine a more impregnable structure. Thankfully, the entrance fee is reasonable.

A few minute’s drive further is the delightful Swiss Cottage. A beautiful example of ‘cottage ornee’, it was designed by the renowned architect John Nash in the early 1800’s. The cottage was used by the estate of Lord and Lady Cahir, to entertain their aristocratic guests while playing peasants.

Tipperary’s natural beauty can be found in the “Mountain of the Women”, Slievenamon by her Irish name. As her name might imply, the views are stunning and can be explored in many ways, walking and biking being the most popular.

Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses

Bed and Breakfast
Ashley Park House
Ashley Park House sits peacefully in the middle of 76 acres of beech woodland and formal gardens in the heart of County Tipperary, six miles north of the busy market town of Nenagh with its famous circular keep, on the road to Borrisokane and Birr.

Lismacue House
Lismacue Is a luxury Georgian House, owned by the same family for over 300 years, is set in 200 acres of parkland in the Golden Vale of Tipperary. It is approached by one of the oldest Lime Tree avenues in the country. There is excellent trout fishing on the River Ara, which runs through the estate. Within easy reach are 5 golf courses, while horse riding, hill walking and cycling can also be arranged.

Rathenny Gate Lodge
Rathenny Gate Lodge to Rathenny House c.1780. This comfortable Lodge has 3 bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, sitting room with open fireplace, bathroom and shower room, and use of new tennis court at the House. Perfect to explore Ireland or just relax. Within easy distance of Birr Castle, Rock of Cashel, several race courses, the golf courses of Nenagh and Roscrea, fly-fishing or boating on Lough Dough or hiking in the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Even the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and surfing on the West Coast are only 1 1/2hrs away. Directions Take the M7 towards Limerick. Exit MONEYGALL. Turn left onto N7 through Moneygall (direction Toomevara). After village take 2nd right turn at Jim Duignan repairs sign. After 2miles, turn right at T junction, after 200yds pass first set of iron gates (Rathenny Lodge)

Rathenny House
Rathenny House is a beautifully maintained Georgian manor house dating from circa 1780. As Duff Hart-Cooper famously mused, it is difficult to say whether it is a small large house or a large small house. Either way it is a strikingly light, welcoming and warm home. Carefully restored and comfortably furnished by the granddaughter of the Irish American Countess Mirbach who rescued the property in the 1960’s, the house retains its many fine original features from fireplaces to decorative plasterwork. The entrance Hall faces out toward the Silvermines Hills and Devil’s Bit and every room enjoys wonderful views across the outlying Irish countryside. Perfectly situated in the middle of its own 160 acre working farm, in the middle of Ireland near Moneygall, Co Offaly this is the ideal location from which to explore Ireland. Within easy distance of Birr Castle, Rock of Cashel, several race courses, the golf courses of Nenagh and Roscrea, fly-fishing or boating on Lough Dough or hiking in the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Even the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and surfing on the West Coast are only 1 1/2hrs away. Or simply enjoy the quiet isolation of the estate, the walled garden, the odd game of tennis on the new all-weather court or fun on the trampoline. The elegant drawing and dining rooms and even the TV room each have working fireplaces. The kitchen is fully equipped and welcoming, with adjacent servants stairs leading to the back entrance, boot room and laundry. Upstairs, off the large open hall there are 3 double bedrooms (each with working fireplaces, and one comprising s a suite with baby/sitting room and own bathroom), another large bedroom with 3 beds, and 2 further bathrooms. The converted servants’ rooms to the rear provide a further double bedroom and sixth bedroom with twin beds and shower room. In the vaulted basement there is a large games room with table tennis and darts board for those odd rainy days. Also by arrangement, horse riding locally, hunting in season, clay pigeon shooting on the farm, cookery lessons in Cloughjordan, a visiting chef or pre-prepared meals, shopping to order, and a daily to clean.

The Granary, Grenane House
This late 19th century stone farm building behind listed Greenane House has recently been fully converted and restored to a very high standard. Visitors can enjoy the gardens and park, explore the Galtee Mountains and the Glen of Aherlow, or visit a number of major historic sites in the area, including Holycross Abbey, Cahir Castle, Swiss cottage and the world renowned Rock of Cashel.

Hidden Ireland for Sligo Bed and Breakfast accommodation

Explore – Sligo

Sligo is a county of extraordinary beauty and vivid contrast in its lakes and woodland, bogs, mountains and rivers. There’s poetry in them hills.
Things to do
No mention of Sligo would be complete without including it’s cultural and literary associations. Her star pupil is W.B. Yeats. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, co-founder of the Abbey Theatre and two term Senator, the poet is currently enjoying a well deserved rest in Drumcliff, at the foot of the beautiful Ben Bulben mountain. Poet chasers might also want to visit the ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’, the small island immortalized in his famous poem.
A genius of a different sort was recognized by Sligo town in 2005 with the unveiling of a plaque honoring Spike Milligan, god-father of alternative comedy. For fans, the plaque can be found at number 5, Holborn Street, the birthplace of his father.
Erecting monuments to the deceased has a long tradition in Sligo, as demonstrated by the megalithic tombs at Carrowmore. Pre-dating Newgrange by 700 years, the site (dating between 4000 and 3500 BC) is the largest in Ireland and a humbling way to spend an afternoon.
Fast forward 5000 years or thereabouts and visit Sligo Abbey, the only remaining medieval building in Sligo town, and the rumored inspiration for Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. The rumors were started by his mother who grew up in the town.
Add to that the glassy lakes, glorious mountains and the Beach Bar at Aughris Head and it would seem rude not to visit Sligo.

Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses

Bed and Breakfast

Temple House
Temple House is one of the finest estates in the west of Ireland. The great house, which was remodeled in 1864, nestles in a wooded demesne, looking out over the Knights Templar castle to Templehouse Lake. Despite its vast size this is a comfortable, welcoming family home with many original contents. The owners are Roderick and Helena Perceval, whose family has lived here since 1665. Temple House is surrounded by an area of outstanding natural beauty, with beaches, mountains and numerous sites of archaeological interest. A working sheep farm, it is a haven for the outdoor enthusiast, with boating on a private lake and miles of lovely woodland walks.
Self Catering
Temple House Gardener’s Cottage
This lovely Victorian building, with steeply pitched gables and tall chimneys, has recently been extensively restored to provide comfortable accommodation for up to four couples. There are gardens, magnificent parkland, a splendid Victorian mansion with outbuildings, yards and stables, a working farm, a vast lake andmile uponmile of wonderful woodland walks.

Hidden Ireland for Roscommon Bed and Breakfast accommodation

Explore – Roscommon

Surrounded by extensive waterways, immersed in history and heritage. Filled with peace and tranquility, in the heart of Connaught lies County Roscommon. Welcome to the west of Ireland
Things to do
To the East, the Shannon and Lough Ree. To the West, the River Suck. To the North Lough Key. Naturally, County Roscommon is the ideal setting for all sorts of water sports, boats and angling. Or you might just want to relax and enjoy one of the many cruises available. When you decide to set foot on dry land, a magnificent wooded countryside is waiting for you. Woods, forests and wildlife are open to the public throughout Roscommon.

350 hectares of trees, flowers, lakes and medieval buildings, including a castle can be explored at Lough Key Forest Park near Boyle. After you’ve filled your lungs and soul with fresh air you might want to explore some of Roscommon’s rich heritage. Many examples of early colonization can be found all over the county, including burial grounds, kings forts and megalithic tombs. A visit to the magnificent ruins of Roscommon’s Castle is essential. Built by the Normans in 1269, it sustained many attacks by the Irish forces and it stands as testimony to Ireland’s sometimes turbulent history.

On the heritage trail, make sure to include a visit to Roscommon’s County Museum. The museum is set in a former Presbyterian church and has many interesting pieces, including a medieval sheila-na-gig and a 9th century slab from St. Coman’s Monastry.

Roscommon’s most famous native is probably Douglas Hyde. Ireland’s first President and a lover of all things Gaeilge. A writer and a poet foremost, he fought to prevent the decline of the native language by collecting Gaelic poems and Folklore and was the co-founder of the Gaelic League in 1893. His life is celebrated at the Douglas Hyde interpretive Centre.

Also,a visit to Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, Cruachan Aí Heritage Centre, in Tulsk, is well work a visit. For more info:
A trip to Roscommon would not be complete without a visit to Ireland’s first and last coal mine. The Arigna Mining Experience will have you travelling back in time, and 400 meters deep to the coal face. This 40 minutes tour, lead by experienced ex-miners will give you the opportunity to experience the hazardous working conditions which miners had to endure in the past.

If all this things make you fall in love with County Roscommon and you decide to stay, you might be happy to know that Roscommon has the longest life expectancy of any county in Ireland.

Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses

Bed and Breakfast
Castlecoote House
Castlecoote House, home of the Percy French Summer School, is a fortified 17th century strong house, converted and classicised in Georgian times. The mediaeval castle here was granted to Sir Charles Coote in 1616 and the house was built between 1690 and 1720 using masonry from the earlier building. Recently rescued from the ruin, the comfortable interior now has stucco ceilings, marble fireplaces, four-poster beds and views over the garden to the ruins of the castle and the River Suck beyond. The ‘celebrated Gunning sisters’ grew up here in the early 18th century and later became the toast of London Society.

Clonalis House
Clonalis is the ancestral home of the O’Conor family, direct descendants of Ireland’s last High King and traditional Kings of Connacht. The family has lived on this heavily wooded 700 acre estate on the banks of the River Suck formore than 1,000 years–an achievement unrivaled elsewhere in Ireland. The present Victorian house, the latest in a series on the estate, is a large, comfortable Italianate building on an elevated site. Clonalis is furnished with family portraits and memorabilia, including the harp of Turlough O’Carolan, the famous blind harpist. The spacious bedrooms many with four-poster beds–have beautiful views over the park.

Castlecoote House Self Catering
Castlecoote House is a fortified 17th century strong house, converted and classicised in Georgian times.

Hidden Ireland for Monaghan Bed and Breakfast accommodation

Explore – Monaghan

Beautiful scenery, unspoilt landscape, historical sites and sparkling lakes. This is the birthplace of the notorious Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh – Welcome to Monaghan!
Things to do
In County Monaghan, Nature provides the setting for numerous outdoor activities: sightseeing, walking, cycling, horse riding, fishing or playing golf. Golf courses and equestrian centres can be found throughout the county as well as pony trekking over moorland, mountain and forest trails.

In Lough Muckno Leisure Park, near Castleblayney, visitors will find many walking trails, a fishing area and for the more adventurous ones, why not try some water skiing? All this exercising is sure to work up an appetite so don’t forget to pack a picnic. At Rossmore Forest Park many wonderful nature and lakeside trails can be found. Badgers, foxes and hedgehogs will be your walking companions, and you might like to know (or not) that this forest is home to seven different species of bat.

A different kind of trail will lead you through some of Monaghan’s History – Monaghan heritage trail includes visits to Peter’s Lake, the old railway station, the Market House and the Courthouse. The best of the county’s architecture was developed in Victorian and Georgian times, from public spaces like the Church Square, Dawson Obelisk and the Diamond in Monaghan town, to the great country houses of Hilton Park, Clones and Carrickmacross and St. Macartan’s Cathedral.
Monaghan is also home to one of the leading provincial museums in Ireland, Monaghan County Museum. The unique 14th century Cross of Clogher and a collection of early medieval crannog artefacts are among the best items of a vast collection representing centuries of local history and folk life.

If you’re lucky to be travelling to Monaghan in September you will be treated to a blues extravaganza, as the county hosts Ireland’s biggest blues festival, the Harvest Time Blues Festival every year in September.

Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses

Bed and Breakfast

Hilton Park
Hilton Park is a rural idyll with glorious, landscaped parkland, woods, private lakes, tranquil gardens and an 18-hole golf-course where guests may play for free. Just 90 minutes from Dublin and Belfast, Hilton Park is ideal for small parties and groups or an intimate weekend à deux. The house containsmany of its original features, furniture and paintings and boasts stupendous views fromall the bedrooms. Renowned for its exemplary home-grown cuisine and uncompromising approach to ingredients, Hilton Park is the ultimate country house experience.

Hidden Ireland for Meath Bed and Breakfast accommodation

Explore – Meath

Welcome to Ireland’s Heritage Capital, welcome to County Meath. Get ready to start a journey through time, one that will bring you through 6,000 years of history, megalithic sites, battlefields and medieval towns.
Things to do
There’s no better place to start this journey then the Brú na Bóinne Visitors Centre. Brú na Bóinne is a World Heritage Site and is the largest and one of the most important complexes of Megalithic sites in Europe, being the most famous sites the impressive passage graves of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Access to the monuments is done through the Visitors Centre only. Here, through full scale replicas and audiovisuals you will have a chance to learn a bit more about the main monuments on site. On site visitors will discover a complex of Neolithic mounds, chamber tombs, standing stones, henges and other pre-historic enclosures dating from as early as the 35th century BC.

The best known monument in the Brú na Bóinne site is the stone age passage tomb of Newgrange. This impressive construction predates the pyramids. Newgrange consists of white round stone walls topped by a grass dome. Measuring 80m diameter and 13 m high, it was built around 3200 BC and no one is quite sure of its original purpose. It could have been a burial place for kings or a centre for ritual. Every year, a few chosen ones gather for the Winter Solistice, to admire the tomb’s precise alignment with the sun, whenever the sun decides to make an appearance that is. This may suggest that the tomb was designed to act as a calendar.

Located near the River Boyne, between Navan and Dunshaughlin, lies the Hill of Tara. This is another impressive archaeological complex containing a number of ancient monuments. But more importantly, Tara appeals to the collective soul of Ireland, this is a sacred site, the seat of the High King of Ireland and it is associated with several kingship rituals. An audiovisual show and a guided tour of the site is available for visitors.

Near the Hill of Tara is one of Ireland’s oldest continuously inhabited houses – the Dunsany Castle. The castle was originally a Norman fortress built in the 12th century, but it was considerably altered and increased over its long lifetime. Dunsany is the home of the Lords of Dunsany and even though it is privately owned, it is open to the public. A guided tour takes approximately 2 hours and it will bring visitors through different divisions of the castle. Dunsany Castle is home to an impressive art collection and many other treasures related to important figures in Irish history, such as Oliver Plunkett.

Ireland’s largest and best preserved Anglo Norman Castle can be found on the south bank of the River Boyne in Trim. The town itself retains its original medieval layout and boasts more upstanding medieval buildings and structures than any other town in Ireland. Built in the 12th century the castle stood as a powerful symbol of Norman power and it became world famous when the movie Braveheart was shot here. Access by guided tour only.

On the journey through medieval times, one must include a visit to the enchanting town of Kells. Over 1,000 years old, this town is a lively, modern day town, but a walk through its streets will lead visitors to realize that they are actually walking through a Monastic site. Ancient and medieval remains can be found everywhere, including the Monastic enclosure with the High Crosses, Round Tower, St. Colmcille’s House and the famous Scriptural Market Cross.

It was also in County Meath that two kings fought for power on a battle that would see 60,000 soldiers march through the Boyne Valley. The armies of King James II and King William III fought on this land and in the end William prevailed and James left for France. At the Battle of Boyne Site Visitors Centre you can watch a short show about the battle. Self guided walks through the parkland and battle site.

Along with history and heritage, County Meath has a lot more to offer. A 6 mile coastline of white sandy beaches, golf courses, horse racing at Fairyhouse, fishing in the River Boyne and coarse angling on the Royal Canal, Lough Sheelin and the Drumconrath lakes.

Meath, in Irish ‘An Mhi’, which means the middle, might just be the right spot to be in.

Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses

Bed and Breakfast

Rossnaree has a suitably imposing setting in the heart of Brú na Bóinne, overlooking the Boyne and the five thousand year-old passage tombs at Newgrange and Knowth. Rossnaree was built in the Italianate style during the Victorian era and has remained in the ownership of the Law family ever since. Its site is believed to be that of the House of Cletty, where the High Kings of Ireland, coming from nearby Tara, would partake in seasonal ceremonies. Aisling, the present owner, is warm, welcoming and a consummate hostess, with an interest in art and drama which is reflected in the art courses held at Rossnaree.

Clonleason Gate Lodge
This riverside cottage in the heart of the Boyne Valley overlooks mature parkland. It is set at the entrance to a Georgian farmhouse and has been carefully converted into an exceptional one bedroom retreat. With its rose garden, stream and open fireplace the cottage is a perfect place to relax and unwind just an easy one hour drive from Dublin airport.