OK so it’s not the easiest place to find, but that makes arriving at this unique boutique B&B all the more exciting – and design lovers, especially, will thrill to the sight of the discreet sign that announces the journey’s end, tucked into the hedge beside a stone pillared entrance.
As you drive in past the happy hens clucking away in their enclosure near the parking area, the charms of this meticulously restored group of traditional stone buildings (the ‘clochán’) are gradually revealed.
The sense of anticipation grows as you approach the front door via an unusual garden, designed with all of the senses in mind, and then the door opens to reveal a stunning, light-filled contemporary interior – and the owner Pat McCarthy or manager, Mark, is there to welcome you with a cup of tea or coffee and a very delicious slice of cake.
Pat is a designer and it shows. Together with London based Irish architect, Mark Guard, and local craftsmen, he has clearly taken great delight in complementing the traditional buildings (many of them originally farm outbuildings) to create thoroughly modern spaces that are the height of rural chic.
Reflecting the natural tones of exposed stone walls, the peaty browns, ochres, greys, silvers and soft greens are deeply rooted in the locality and its traditions, yet used in fresh contemporary ways.
Design-led furnishings – notably in the large semi-conservatory living area with an open fire that opens onto a sensory garden, and a bright dining room with windows on two sides - include work by local craftspeople and, although Ballilogue is almost in Co Wexford (New Ross is the nearest town), its spiritual location is very Kilkenny, the place that’s epitomised the best of Irish design and craft since the 1970s.
Bedrooms - which are all named after people who formerly lived here - are appropriately individual and have modern bath or shower shower rooms with organic toiletries. They combine the qualities seen throughout the property and, an especially nice touch, all have throws made nearby at Graiguenamanagh by Cushendale, which is one of the very few woollen mills remaining in Ireland.
And these lovely throws are among an eclectic selection of crafts, clothing, and other covetable items (including Ballilogue preserves) available to buy at Mrs M’s, a unique cottage museum and shop, which is exclusively open for residents - who can also sit in the front room (or at little tables outside), and enjoy afternoon tea in authentic cottage surroundings.
An excellent breakfast includes freshly baked breads, crunchy home made granola and free range eggs supplied by the clucky ladies out at the front and - although evening meals are only offered at weekends in summer - platters of local cheeses and other foods (with Ballilogue chutney) can always be arranged, to enjoy with a bottle of wine. When dining out, New Ross is very close and Thomastown about half an hour’s drive.
A lovely place to visit and there’s so much to do and see in the beautiful surrounding area. And it is so quiet, with no light pollution - on a clear night, just stand and enjoy the stars.