Staying at an Irish Country House
executive summry By Hilarius D.G from national geography magazine, original words by Turtle Bunbury
MANY GRAND ESTATES that take in paying guests are privately owned homes (only a few of which still belong to their original families), so don’t necessarily expect typical hotel amenities such as reception desks and room services.
Most Big Houses are part of either the Hidden Ireland network or the Blue Book Association, which between them account for more than 60 historic castle and manor houses open to overnight stays. Also browse The Good Hotel Guide, John and Sally McKenna’s 100 Best Places to Stay in Ireland, and the Discover Ireland website. Book ahead; these houses have a limited number of rooms. Dinner at manor, which is sometimes a group affair, can also be reserved at booking .some house particularly those with gardens, welcome day visits, whereas others offer guided tours of the house interior, generally by appointment only.
May, June, and September are usually the sunniest, mildest months to visit Ireland. But always be prepared for rain.
Act as if you’re staying with friends of friends, and you’re most of the way there. You’re not expected to make your own bed, but bear in mind your host may be the one cleaning up when you’re out. If there’s a hired cleaner, you can leave a tip in the room. Hair dryers and toiletries are usually provided, but you might want to bring your own slippers. In some houses, dogs are free to roam the lower floors. If you’re headed for a walk, consider offering to take the dog along as well.
The Big House has its own genre in the rich world of Irish literature. The writing duo Somerville and Ross inject conservable humor into The Irish R.M. Series, Elizabeth Bowern conveys poignant gravitas in The Last September, and Molly Keane produced dark comic gems such as Good Behaviour. Coffee-table tome The Irish Country House, by Desmond FitzBerald and James peill, is lushly photographed by James Fennel.
In designing the White House, in Washington, D.C., Irishman James Hoban was inspired by Leinster House in Dublin
Castletown House, Ireland’s largest Palladianstyle manor, was built for inkeeper’s son William Conolly, who became the wealthiest man in Ireland.
When Sir Edward Pakenham of Tullynally Castle was killed at he battle of New Orleans in 1815, his family shipped him home for burial preserved in a barrel of rum.
Summons to the Bar – At a Kilkenny pub, photographer Jace Rivers sat for hous with a man who regaled him with stories. “I was listening keenly, composing unobtrusively, and clicking the shutter discreetly,” says Rivers. “The problem was, I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying!” blame an Irish accent thickened by several pints of Smithwicks’s.