Fancy staying somewhere a bit different for your next holiday or short break? Somewhere with character and a bit of history?
The Irish Landmark Trust has spent the past couple of decades finding and restoring some of the most interesting properties within Ireland to give them a new lease of life as holiday cottages!
We have taken a closer look at two of their ‘properties with a past’. They not only have interesting histories but lots of reasons to visit right now!
Ballealy Cottage, Shane’s Castle Estate, County Antrim
From the pages of a fairytale
Head down a long country lane and you’ll discover the picture-perfect setting of Ballealy Cottage. Nestled amongst woodland and with stream running beside it, the cottage looks like it has come straight from the pages of a fairy tale with a series of gabled roofs and a couple of octagonal chimney stacks.
19th century origins
The cottage dates back to 1835 and would originally have been used by Shane Castle Estate’s deer-keeper. It is thought to be a miniature model of the ranger’s lodge at Windsor Forest and designed by Richard Morrison.
An aviary was originally attached to the cottage which apparently housed some gold and silver pheasants! Other outbuildings included a venison store which has along with the main property been carefully renovated to maintain the character of Ballealy Cottage. Paint has been matched from tiny original remnants and anything salvaged from the property has been reused where possible to restore it to its former glory.
Get in touch with nature
Ballealy Cottage is situated on Shane Castle Estate. It consists of 800 acres of farmland, 1000 acres of woodland and is home to some ancient castle ruins. The history of this site dates back to the 16th century though most of the present ruins would have been built in the 1700s. Items included within the site include a burial chamber and cannons from a British man-of-war which sank at Lough Foyle.
One of the main draws for holidaying in this spot in County Antrim is the sense of tranquillity from the peaceful location. It’s close to the shores of Lough Neagh (great for a spot of fishing) and you can get in touch with nature by spotting wildlife in the large wild garden.
Merrion Mews, Dublin
Original architecture (and garden)!
Merrion Mews is part of an 18th century Dublin town house in Merrion Square – one of the most significant Georgian survivals of its type in this area of the city. The fact that the whole complex is still intact is extremely rare (possibly unique) and Merrion Mews has retained many of its original features. It also has one of only two surviving mews gardens in Merrion Square which you can enjoy during your visit to Dublin – you don’t get that by staying in a hotel!
A glimpse into the past
One of the most fascinating things about the property is that its history can be almost completely traced from 1787 to 1930s. Previous occupants include a judge, and the family of a society debutante who went on to marry George Bernard Shaw.
The Mews building itself has hardly been altered at all over the years. The original ground floor was used to accommodate horses in the 18th century and today the stable yard is used from time to time by the Mounted Unit of An Garda Siochana (Irish Police) to rest their horses.
A prime location with plenty of space!
You really can’t get a better location for exploring Dublin as Merrion Mews manages to combine the best of both worlds. It’s set in quiet location down a peaceful road yet the shops, pubs and attractions that make Dublin so famous are just a short walk away. You can also enjoy the green space of Merrion Square Park and St Stephen’s Green which are both very close to the property.
Inside Merrion Mews there is plenty of space for up to 6 people with a cosy living area (complete with wood-burning stove), 3 double bedrooms and a large family kitchen / diner. Outside there is parking space (a really bonus for a city centre) and of course the beautiful garden to enjoy!