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What makes a great hospitality experience? Ireland is blessed with a generous sprinkling of those uniquely satisfying places where beautiful and enriching surroundings combine with an owner who is exceptionally gifted in hospitality and conveys that gift to everyone and everything associated with the business. This favourite place is an absolute one-off.
Enterprise, diversification... love and respect for what has gone before, seasoned with creativity and a light touch when imagining what might - or, perhaps, what needs to - come next.
These are the things that come to mind when thinking of Justin and Jenny Green, the current custodians of Ballyvolane House. This gracious mansion is surrounded by its own farmland, magnificent wooded grounds, gardens, a trout lake and salmon beats on the River Blackwater and stay here is always a treat.
And it’s an especially rewarding experience thanks to the natural hospitality of the hosts who have worked so hard to make it seem easy, so there’s a relaxed can-do atmosphere and a youthful sense of fun in the way the grand old house combines with gues rooms, quirky accommodation - glamping in luxurious bell tents and 'camping arcs' in the gardens - and the atmospheric wedding venue that’s been created out at the back, complete with its own cosy bar.
Hip is not a word that’s much associated with traditional Irish country house, but it sits very well here - and, when you see how all the elements, including the hens and the pigs, the good, simple cooking and their brilliant new whey-based gin, Bertha’s Revenge, are brought together with funky music in their promo video, it all makes perfect sense.
An absolute one-off, this place is seriously deserving of its standing as one of Ireland’s most desirable multi-generational destinations.