Ancestral family home in deepest County Cork
DON'T FORGET A MAP when you set out for Ballyvolane House – forgetful roadsigns (this is Ireland, after all) and a tucked-away location conspire to make the journey rather longer than you intended.
Fortunately the newsagent in the nearest village put us right, and we were soon being greeted by Ballyvolane's friendly owner Justin Green. He's Irish through and through but – intriguingly – sounds pure Home Counties.
Ballyvolane House has been the Green family home for generations – and guests staying today enjoy a slice of home-from-home ancestral chic. Originally Georgian, and remodelled in Victorian times to give it a more Italianate feel, the house is stuffed with family heirlooms and paintings.
Guests enter through the striking ebony-pillared music room, with its grand piano, hand-stencilled doors and statuary. A huge lounge at the rear – where Noodle the house Scottie needed no encouragement to join us on the Chesterfield – looks over a wonderful sweep of lawn where fan-tailed doves flutter.
Hit the spot
In the depths of rural County Cork
We liked Gran's Sitter, with its huge free-standing clawfoot bath inviting long soaks with a view.
There are no room keys, locks or room numbers – and guests dine en famille
Knockout grounds and real family hospitality
Having managed the likes of Babington House in the UK before returning to Ballyvolane, Justin is now planning to bring shades of laidback Babington to this little pocket of Ireland. There's a help-yourself honesty bar here and no room numbers, room keys or locks. It's all very much shabby-chic elegance, so don't be surprised to find a few knocks and scratches
here and there.
There are also no nasty and restrictive hotel rules – you can have breakfast till midday
and stay up and drink all night if you like. Guests dine family style around a big table (though your hosts are happy to set up a dinner à deux ), while rooms revel in their eclectic mix of furnishings – you might find a Victorian cast-iron bath, 1920s armchairs and 50s style lampshades. Some have beautiful antique wardrobes, while nice touches like retro Bush radios, piles of books, elderflower cordial and a cookie jar add to the at-home vibe
. All enjoy bucolic views.
If old-world doesn't appeal, five very 21st century timber suites
in the three-acre walled gardens will be built at Ballyvolane in the next few months. (If it's rainy, guests will shuttle over to dinner in a Thai style tuk-tuk). These will have huge floor to ceiling windows, sunken baths and wood-burning stoves.
Gardens to get lost in – a sea of bluebells in spring
– stretch away outside. Guests dine on simple, fresh home-cooked food in the evening – the kitchen garden was bursting with plump globe artichokes and loganberries when we were there – with fresh salmon caught from the River Blackwater just across the fields.
Ballyvolane House was reviewed for Room for Romance by Mairiona Cotter
LAST MINUTE AT BALLYVOLANE HOUSE
Book a last-minute stay Sunday to Thursday at Ballyvolane House in Country Cork
Book no more than seven days ahead and you get 10% off Bed and Breakfast rates. The offer is subject to availability and individual room preferences cannot be guaranteed.
* Quote “Last Minute rates” in the message box of our Booking Inquiry form.
Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the gallery.
Dinner at Ballyvolane is served en famille
. The dining room is old-fashioned country house, with ancestral portraits, a grand mahogany table laid with family silver and white linen, and spectacularly high ceilings laced with elaborate cornice work. Tuck into steamed globe artichokes (plucked from the walled garden) with hot butter, poached whole wild Blackwater salmon
and wicked steamed syrup pudding. For breakfast expect the best in traditional Irish; with award winning white and black puddings
, organic sausages and hen’s eggs from the family coop. Dinner à deux can be arranged if you prefer to dine privately.
Try the excellent Café Paradiso in Cork or Fish Fishy (so good they named it twice), one of the best places to try if seafood is your thing.
Traditional Irish food with a twist of extravagance.
Dress the part
It’s family dining – albeit in rather grand surroundings.
Near the craic and not too far from the salt.
See & Do
Stroll through Ballyvolane's peaceful woods, rhododendron-lined paths and statue-dotted gardens. Go fishing on some of the best beats on the Blackwater river (Ireland's finest salmon river) or – even if you're a novice – pick up a rod and try landing a rainbow trout from one of Ballyvolane's own lakes. Take a trip to the beautiful village of Lismore, or walk around the yacht-filled harbour of Kinsale. Immerse yourself in the area and watch a traditional hurling match or some Gaelic football (rather like a cross between rugby and soccer).
Try the Escape Salon & Spa at the Imperial Hotel in Cork, 30 minutes away.
Shops are sleepy and characterful in this part of Ireland. See the work of Gael Byrne, one of Ireland's top florists, at Summerhouse in Lismore, or head into Cork and the city's high-end department store Brown Thomas, which stocks the cream of Irish and international brands.
You won’t find the throb of nightclubs around here so dine out or take an evening walk through the grounds. If you feel the urge to party, Cork is great for clubs, big bars and gigs – and of course traditional Irish music.
The Cork Midsummer Festival celebrates local, national and international arts.
Catch some of the biggest names in music at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival.
Ballyvolane, Nr. Castlelyons, Co. Cork
There is free guest parking.
Mallow station – 30 km
EUR 60 from the airport
Cork – 40 km
Rooms and suites
Bedrooms have huge beds, large baths, TV, radio and wi-fi.
Nibble at complimentary homemade chocolate biscuits, accompanied by the home-produced elderflower or blackcurrant cordial.
EUR 150 - 250
Closed 24 December – 4 January
Minimum night stay?
Full breakfast is served until noon
Children are not permitted in the dining room for dinner. High tea is served at 5.30pm.
English, Irish, French, and Polish
Ballyvolane recycles, grows all its own vegetables and supports only eco-friendly suppliers.
Justin and Jenny Green – owners