Set in several acres of landscaped gardens encompassing a circular walk overlooking the River Finisk, the Nugent family’s unusual and wonderfully hospitable house is a substantial 18th century farmhouse built around the remains of a 16th century castle.
Although most of the house seems quite normal inside, it blends into the original building in places - so, for example, the dining room has walls five feet deep and an original castle archway.
Outside you can visit the cellar of the original castle and, on the other side, view the rock on which the house and castle are built; and, as befits a farmhouse, you may watch the milking and whatever other farm activities are in season.
The spacious, exceptionally comfortably appointed rooms not only have have king size beds, television, tea/coffee facilities and neat shower rooms well equipped with a selection of toiletries - but also easy chairs, good lighting, lots of books and the full history of the house in an information pack. (And there is also a full bathroom available for any guest who prefers a bath).
Meticulous housekeeping, a very pleasant guests’ sitting room (more books, games, an open fire), interesting pictures and fresh flowers everywhere all add up to a very appealing farmhouse indeed and, together with her daughter and daughter-in-law, Joan provides excellent breakfasts including home grown fresh fruit, fruit compôtes and fruit juices, porridge and home baked bread.
In addition to the traditional Irish breakfast you may choose from dishes like smoked salmon and scrambled free-range eggs, French toast with bacon and maple syrup.
Dinner is served at separate tables in the lovely dining room, set up with crisp white linen and silver, more like a small restaurant than a farmhouse dining room; it is only available by arrangement so you must book when making a reservation, when you will be asked about your likes and dislikes.
The menu changes daily and might include home-made soups with freshly baked bread, poached salmon with hollandaise sauce and a rhubarb, ginger and orange crumble followed by good coffee; some well chosen wines are available, around €19. Improvements to the house are constant - decorating, renewing furniture and linen and re-doing bathrooms; it is a wonderful place to stay.
*Castle Country House was our Farmhouse of the Year in 2008.