Home And Away Guide: Ballyvolane House House County Cork
Built in Georgian style in 1728 for a retired lord chief justice of Ireland, Ballyvolane House was modified over 100 years later with an Italianate design. In 1730, the elderly tenants, Andrew St Leger and his wife, were murdered by their butler and maid for their valuables, which were supposedly buried in the shrubbery somewhere on the property as the story goes. So all in all this stately pile exudes history & style. There have been three owners and currently four generations of the Green family living here. Justin took over the running of Ballyvolane with wife Jenny from his father in 2004 after extensive hospitality experience in Britain and Asia where they both met.
The house is shabby chic with six rooms that all have high ceilings and overlook the gardens or the park land. They all have their own bathrooms, many with antique cast iron baths. One of the baths with a rich wood finish is supposedly the biggest in the country! There are antique radios in all bedrooms, which suit the house style, but also TVs & Wi-Fi mindful of more modern times. In the bedrooms there are little touches like homemade biscuits and cordials to give it a more homely touch. Ballyvolane the quintessential Irish country retreat has the grounds to go with it. Walking through the formal, walled and woodland gardens and lingering beneath ancient beech and oak trees is a magical experience even in the rain!
Guests can also enjoy delicious home-cooking in the formal dining room or afternoon tea by the open turf fires. All ingredients are grown in Ballyvolane’s own walled garden, reared on the farm or sourced from local producers. There’s an excellent wine list and breakfast is served until midday which is ideal for lazy risers! Bertha's Revenge Gin at Ballyvolane named after Bertha the oldest cow in the world who died aged 48 in 1993 was awarded "Drink of the Year" by John & Sally McKenna's Guide two years ago. Using whey alcohol produced by Irish dairy farmers, their own spring water, and an interesting mix of locally grown and foraged botanicals, they hand-crafted a gin reflecting Bertha in her prime. Bertha is distilled in small batches in the distillery in the farmyard at Ballyvolane. The nearby Blackwater Valley is worth exploring as are Fermoy, Youghal & my favourite heritage town of Lismore. They have a heritage centre there and some beautiful walks, as well as a castle with public gardens which are stunning. Fota House and Blarney Castle are nearby while Kinsale and Cork City are also within easy reach.
If you're staying over the weekend visit the nearby farmers market & the Jameson Heritage Centre in Midleton. On the coast there is sea fishing, beaches and wonderful coastal walks and elsewhere there is horse racing at Mallow and numerous golf courses within an hour's drive. The Green family at Ballyvolane will also consider requests for private weddings where you are guaranteed a fairytale setting in the heart of East Cork. They recently built a vintage marquee which is attached to an old stone barn in the farmyard overlooking the gardens. They cleverly knocked two doorways into the barn which is where the bar is keeping all the old walls exposed and then there’s another room for dancing. Rates at Ballyvolane House are available from: €198 for two people sharing on a B&B basis. A single supplement of €150 applies. www.ballyvolanehouse.ie
Robert Walshe is a travel broadcaster with Q Radio in Northern Ireland and Travel Editor for River Media newspaper titles across the island of Ireland.