Ballyvolane House Castlelyons, Co. Cork
Originally built in 1728, Ballyvolane House is a magical house surrounded by woods, vast gardens and parkland. The house has a charming, peaceful and homely atmosphere. There are three trout lakes and the huge gardens are impeccably maintained by Jeremy Green. Jeremy and his late wife Merrie, a fly-fishing expert, first opened their home as luxurious country house accommodation for fishermen about twenty-five years ago, and it now run by their son Justin and his wife Jenny.
There’s a series of grand, well-proportioned reception rooms and the bedrooms have stunning views of the garden or park. The pillared hall has a baby grand piano and the huge drawing room to the rear overlooks the terraced lawns where fan-tail doves flutter. The bedrooms are spacious and comfortable and are described by Travel & Leisure Magazine as ‘having the loveliest, most peaceful views and are enduringly furnished with an organic assortment or wing chairs, alabaster lamps, sofas that are models of shabby chic’.
Guests enjoy delicious home-cooking in the grand dining room. The ingredients are grown in Ballyvolane’s own walled garden, reared on the farm and sourced from local artisan producers. There’s an excellent wine list and breakfast is served until noon.
Ballyvolane has over six miles of privately-managed salmon fishing on the renowned river Blackwater, with a wide variety of spring and summer beats. Ballyvolane also operates a Fly Fishing School and runs courses throughout the season. There are also stocked trout lakes on the estate.
Ballyvolane House is the perfect setting for exclusive country house parties, weddings, gatherings and corporate retreats. Children and dogs are always welcome.
County Cork has long been renowned for its artisan food producers and there are excellent farmers’ markets nearby. The beautiful Blackwater Valley is well worth exploring in detail, as are Fermoy, Lismore and Youghal. Fota House and Arboretum and Blarney Castle are nearby; Kinsale and Cork City are within easy reach, as is the Rock of Cashel, while Killarney, the Ring of Kerry and Waterford are both within a comfortable drive. On the coast there is sea fishing, beaches and wonderful coastal walks and elsewhere there is horse racing, traditional Irish music, and 23 golf courses all within an hour’s drive.
Castlecoote House is a fortified 17th century strong house, converted and classicised in Georgian times. It overlooks a beautiful stretch of the River Suck, just outside the village of Castlecoote, in the centre of County Roscommon. Surrounded by woodland and in the midst of a pastoral countryside, the mediaeval castle here was granted to Sir Charles Coote in 1616 and the present house was largely built between 1690 and 1720 incorporating parts of a far earlier structure. Recently rescued from the ruin, the comfortable interior now has magnificent marble fireplaces, four-poster beds and views over the garden to the ruins of the castle and the River Suck beyond.
Formerly this was an important fort on the river and was defended from earliest times, so both house and grounds have a fascinating history spanning many centuries. There was a mediaeval castle on the site, which is now largely destroyed, and, more recently, a 17th century strong house was built within its walls. This had flanking towers at the corners, two of which can still be seen at the ends of the façade.
In the 18th century the celebrated Gunning sisters, the daughters of John Gunning and both born in Castlecoote House, were famed for their beauty at the court of King George II. Both succeeded in turning their beauty to advantage, since one married the fabulously wealthy Duke of Hamilton and, after his death, the Duke of Argyll, while the other made a glittering match with the Earl of Coventry. Copies of their portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds hang in the hall
By the second half of the 20th century Castlecoote House gradually became increasingly ruinous and eventually it was seriously damaged by fire. Luckily, it found a new owner and the whole house was lovingly restored in the late 1990s, with magnificent ceilings, marble chimneypieces, four-poster beds and luxurious bathrooms.
Guests have a choice of two tennis courts and a croquet lawn in the grounds, and they may fish for trout and coarse fish in the river Suck at the bottom of the garden. They can ride horses and play golf nearby, and there are a number of good looped walks along the Suck Valley Way. Nearby are Roscommon Castle, the King House at Boyle and Strokestown House and Gardens.If they prefer not to venture out, the beautifully landscaped gardens, an orchard of rare apple trees, the towers of the ruined castle and an ice house make Castlecoote House a truly romantic and historic haven.
Castlecoote House is the venue for the annual Percy French Summer School which was first held here in 2009.