ISLE magazine: Book an Escape in Ireland in 2015

While it is certainly nice to have a few gifts to open on Christmas Day- there is nothing like having a special getaway booked for early in 2015 to give you something to look forward to.

In each issue of the magazine we feature getaways and whenever we can we try to get away to different part of the country ourselves.  So, where does one go? And what kind of getaway do you want? Are you looking for the full on relaxed spa treatments and delicious meals? Or somewhere that gets you outside and makes you get active to shake free some of  those extra pounds you’ve accumulated over the holidays?

A great website to visit first is Ireland’s Blue Book  site. They celebrate their 40th Anniversary this year.

Forty years ago, in 1974, Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House (who recently turned 90) was the first President of Ireland’s Blue Book and a founding member. Today this collection of Irish Country Houses, Manor Houses, Historic Hotels, Castles and even a lighthouse includes forty-six different properties throughout the island of Ireland.

Latest additions to the collection include Clare Island Lighthouse (we featured this in Issue 3, pg 16). Also added to the collection is Liss Ard Estate, a gorgeous Victorian house in west Cork.  Thornton’s Restaurant in Dublin also joined Blue Book this year bringing the number of Michelin starred restaurants in the collection to five.

You may want to getaway to Northern Ireland and stay in properties such as Newforge House in Armagh or the Bushmills Inn in Antrim or pick a county in the Republic of Ireland where you can stay in the Castle Durrow in Laois, dine at Chapter One restaurant in Dublin, travel to Fermanagh and stay in Belle Isle Estate or venture to County Kerry to stay in the Park Hotel Kenmare – there is a property that suits everyone and every taste.

Park Hotel Kenmare

Park Hotel Kenmare (Ireland’s Blue Book)

Last April, we did escape on our own little spa retreat to Bellinter House in Co. Meath. Not far from Dublin close to the town of Trim – which has a most spectacular castle – it was an easy drive for a 1 night getaway.

It was the perfect time to visit as the daffodils were in full bloom dotting the drive in with highlights of yellow. Built in 1750 and designed by renowned Irish architect, Richard Castle, Bellinter is a classic Palladian style house.

The spa is located in the stables of the property and faces the fields and woodlands giving you very tranquil experience indeed. Our visit started with seaweed baths, followed by a sauna and dip in the outdoor hot tub which overlooks the River Boyne. We stayed in the Ruins in a quiet courtyard adjacent to the main house with a copper bath and views out onto the surrounding woods.  Our dinner that evening was delicious.  One of the mains was halibut on butternut squash risotto for my main.  On the ground floor, the drawing room filled with miss-matched furnishings and stunning lighting, my favourite being the water buffalo head. There is also an intimate bar and game room. The feeling throughout the house is as if you’ve come to visit someone at home- albeit quite luxurious. We loved the quirkiness of the furnishings; nothing is too perfect making it feel very comfortable and welcoming. The grounds are particularly stunning and they’ve hosted many a wedding here – in fact, on the sideboard in the game room was a collection of thank you cards from many a happy couple.

The Bar at Bellinter House

The Bar at Bellinter House


The Library at Bellinter House

copper bath

The copper bath in the bathroom in the Ruins.

Enjoy your own getaway to Bellinter House –

If you are looking for places to go angling – we suggest you check out the The Great Fishing Houses of Ireland.  There are 13 houses in this group and all but two are located in Galway and Mayo.  Each offer wonderful lodging and spectacular places to fish to one’s hearts content. In Issue 2 we featured Longueville House in Co. Cork – read more about in in our archive.

The Discover Ireland website also has loads of suggestions for places to stay and with over 5,000 places throughout the country – you will definitely find what you are looking for. Check out the Where to Stay page of their website and browse the rest of it for ideas on what to do.

We wish you all the best for the new year and hope you have plans to take a trip around Ireland or indeed visit Ireland if you haven’t already!