With its traditional stonework and thatched roof, Ballydougan Pottery is a charming destination for anyone who wants to get away from it all and relax with a little light shopping and a bite to eat in a country atmosphere.
The pottery was established in 1984 by master potter and entrepreneur Sean O’Dowd who, together with his wife Marie, has developed the business to include not only an ever-expanding range of their distinctive hand-thrown and colourfully decorated stoneware, but also pottery demonstrations and workshops, a gift shop (with wedding list service), self catering accommodation – and their restaurant and coffee lounge.
The restored barn harks back to the days when Irish linen was a major export, and it was prepared and sorted here at Bloomvale House (1785) before being dispatched around the world.
Today, the three dining areas make an atmospheric setting for visitors to enjoy good home cooked food that is based on freshly prepared local produce and served on their own pottery. It’s an appealing setup and the surroundings are comfortable and homely all year, with an open fire creating a cosy atmosphere in winter, and the option of alfresco dining in a colourful courtyard garden in fine summer weather.
Food is served from breakfast onwards, with the offering changing as the day progresses – true to the great Northern Ireland baking tradition, there’s an excellent selection of scones, tray bakes, gateaux, pies, pavlovas, cheese cakes and so on, with heartier meals available at lunch time, including a daily Chef's Special lunch, a range of casseroles, hot and cold sandwiches (made with homebaked white or ciabatta bread) and interesting vegetarian options such as risotto and filo strudel.
Everything is very fresh and tempting, and friendly staff create a home from home feeling so you can relax and enjoy the experience, be it a quick snack, a wholesome lunch, coffee and cakes or irresistible desserts.
And, with such a pretty shop to tempt, you’re very unlikely to go home empty-handed...