6 historic houses of Ireland

Clonalis House, County Roscommon

Ever wondered what it's like to grow up in a majestic manor? Be our guest and experience a warm Irish welcome on a grand scale with an overnight stay in one of Ireland's historic houses

1. Hilton Park House, County Monaghan

Home to the Madden family since the 18th century, Hilton Park House in County Monaghan is now a wonderfully welcoming guesthouse where Fred and Joanna Madden, along with their four children, specialise in making visitors feel completely at home.  

“In my grandparents’ day, it really was like Downton Abbey, with big weekend parties and lots of servants,” says Fred. Fragments of this glittering past can still be seen today. Each room holds a variety of antique furniture, fine art, family photos and books, offering a glimpse into the long heritage of the house.

And with canopy beds to rest your head, just think of how blissfully you’ll sleep after a delicious dinner prepared by owner and chef Fred Madden. "We raise pigs, grow vegetables and harvest our own honey on the grounds. There’s nothing like home-grown ingredients and cosy surroundings to make a meal special.”

2. Crom Castle, County Fermanagh

Crom Castle has been home to the Earls of Erne for seven generations, and their historical pile is now available for you to call home, too – at least for a little while. Guests can rent the entire West Wing for a week or a long weekend. You'll find no room service or flat screen televisions here, though, this is a place to switch off and indulge in the simple pleasures of country life.

The beauty, tranquillity and hospitality of a stay at Crom are what guests remember us for. You can feel that this is a home when you walk in.

Lord Erne

Lord Erne makes sure to greet each guest and is happy to share fond memories of life growing up in this handsome stronghold. And with the stunning Fermanagh Lakelands outside your door and the luxuries of four poster beds, charming antique furniture and cosy open fires to enjoy, you're sure to feel every inch the lord or lady.

3. Clonalis House, County Roscommon

Fancy sleeping in the house of the last High Kings of Ireland? The O’Conor family are direct descendants of the last High Kings of Ireland who were also the traditional kings of Connacht. Talk about power! Join current owners, Pyers and Marguerite O’Conor Nash, in their home and you’ll find they’re more than delighted to regale you with tales of the fascinating history behind Clonalis House.

If you listen closely there is a musicality to Clonalis. The crackle of the fire, the chatter of guests, and the creaks of old floor boards… All these sounds are music to my ears and make the house as much alive as it was a hundred years ago.

Carol-Anne O’Conor Nash

Read a book by the fireplace in the impressively stocked library and take it all in. And in the evenings, sit back and indulge in a three or five course meal served in the handsome dining room.

©Tony Gavin
©Tony Gavin

4. Glin Castle, County Limerick

Glin Castle in County Limerick has been home to the FitzGerald family for 800 years and has hosted many celebrity guests, including Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull and most recently, Taylor Swift. So what makes it so alluring to such high-profile stars? Perhaps its the fact that it's a true family home, full of fond memories and charming traditions. 

As a child, my grandmother would come to stay at Christmas. We had scones with crab apple jelly and the Christmas tree stood between the Corinthian columns which were dressed in ivy each year. It was magical – it still is.

Catherine FitzGerald

This mix of grandeur and homely touches, not to mention the warm greetings from current owners, Catherine FitzGerald and actor Dominic West, make Glin Castle special.

5. Colebrooke Park, County Fermanagh

Welcome to the seat of Viscount and Viscountess Brookeborough – a country house getaway and full-time family home in County Fermanagh, where outdoor pursuits like clay pigeon shooting, archery and fishing are all part of the experience on this magnificent 1,000 acre estate. Prefer a more relaxing stay? Enjoy a drink by an open fire in the drawing room or a refreshing walk in the gardens.

One of my most fond memories is of catching trout in the Colebrooke River whilst deer waded across the water below me and otter cubs played downstream.

Viscount Brookborough

Colebrooke Park is a true labour of love, carefully restored by its current owners, who will happily fill you in on the comings and goings of life in this great manor.

6. The Castle, County Cork

Who could resist the allure of castle accommodation with gorgeous harbour views? Guarding the village of Castletownshend in County Cork, The Castle is the current family home of the 11th generation of the Townshend family. 

Sharon is relatively new to the business, having taken over the reins alongside her husband Justin Cochrane Townshend four years ago. "I’m still only a “blown-in” to the area. My mother-in-law has fond memories of her parents time running the castle as a guesthouse for over 40 years."

Nowadays, this is a bed and breakfast experience on a grand scale, where original furnishings, family portraits and gorgeous oak-panelled rooms make it seem as if you have stepped back in time. While walks by the harbour and enchanting strolls through 80 acres of woodland are part and parcel of the experience.

Like the sound of staying somewhere different? Check out some more unique places to stay.

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