Is it just us or does Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey star, James Nesbiit have a ‘Lord of The Manor’ look about him? Well, episode seven of his ITV series James Nesbitt’s Ireland is as good a time as any to confirm our hunch – James is visiting castles.
Offaly pleased to meet you
First stop for our favourite Cold Feet actor and silver-tongued Antrim man in County Offaly’s Cloghan Castle. It’s here that the our favourite character from Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey meets Brian and Elise Thompson, Croghan’s saviours and outgoing owners. It was this unique and hard-working pair that gave Croghan the TLC it needed.
Crumbly on the outside and cosy on the inside, this is the kind of castle that anchors all those historic fantasies you’ve been having. All that’s missing is Maid Marion waiting by a window for Robin Hood to swing in on a rope. Would James Nesbitt like wearing green tights and a quiver? We’ll get back to you.
What James does like is Croghan Castle. He likes its 80,000 trees, its private gardens and its 157 acres. He’s suitably impressed with the outgoing owners Brian and Elise, too. He knows some other people who might share his appreciation:
“It's a magical place, my girls would love it I think."
And there you have it – Jekyll star James Nesbitt has been charmed by a castle.
But he’s not finished with Ireland’s unique buildings yet.
Georgian on my mind
Not wasting any time, The Way and Monroe actor, James Nesbitts scoots from the prairie-like midlands of Offaly to the southern belle of County Cork.
Why Cork? Well, Longville House, of course. Welcome to a slice of Georgian gorgeousness that the O’Callaghan family have turned not only into a sumptuous hotel, but also into a family home. “My children love growing up here”, owner Aisling O’Callaghan tells Nesbitt “so they appreciate all they have around them, the sense of space."
And now to something Mr Nesbitt will appreciate – homemade apple brandy. The house boasts its very own distillery on the grounds where the Callaghan’s make their very own brandy from the orchard’s apples.
As James Nesbitt himself says:
"This is living off the land, Irish-style, and I'll drink to that."
If he likes that, he’s going to love his next adventure.
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Nesbitt meets the ‘in-cider’
County Tipperary is famous for its apple orchards. In fact, if you wanted the all in Tipperary experience you would be sitting beside the Rock of Cashel, holding a hurley and taking a swig out of a bottle of local apple juice. That’s Tipperary.
If you want to know about Tipperary’s apple business, talk to Con Trass. As he tells James, "When I was ten years old I used to come home from school and my dad would send me out for an hour or so to be with the pickers, so that would make it about 34 years of picking.”
The little apple
Those 34 years have made Con an apple aficionado and today his business The Apple Farm is expanding into strawberries, plums, pears, sweet cherries and raspberries. But apples are where it’s at for Con. Sparkling apple juice, cider vinegar, apple jelly, apple and mixed juices… we could go on. The Bridgestone guide sitting happily on their website is confirmation that it’s all delicious and their fruit and cider festival tells you the locals agree.
For Con, though, it’s the simple things, I find harvesting fruit very therapeutic, turn off the phone and just go and concentrate on what's on the plant, it's very enjoyable."
Just like visiting Ireland, eh James?
The next episode of James Nesbitt’s Ireland will be transmitted on ITV on Monday 29 April at 8pm.
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