Heavenly holiday homes in Ireland

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Location: Clomantagh Castle, Freshford, Kilkenny, Ireland
Accommodation: sleeps 10: 4 doubles, 1 twin
Contact: +353 (0)1670 4733; www.irishlandmark.com


Clomantagh Castle once belonged to Pierce Ruadh, Earl of Ormond, and his redoubtable wife, Mairghréad nee Gearóid, who is said to have kept a fierce watch over her labourers from the high watchtower on its north eastern corner. Some attribute to her the presence of a Sheela-na-gig, a figurative female nude of debated significance, carved into the south wall. The church in the Clomantagh complex dates back to the 12th century, while the castle itself was constructed out of local limestone in the 1430s for defensive purposes, in league with the five other tower houses visible from its roof. ‘Clomantagh’ derives from the Irish ‘cloch mantaigh’, meaning ‘gap-toothed smile’, a name which locals gave to the castle because of its typically Irish merlons, or stepped battlement walls. Other defensive structures include a machicolation and a Murder Hole, both allowing the inhabitants to hurl missiles down on intruders, as well as a loophole for crossbows, and a near-intact bawn or boundary wall. The castle has been continuously occupied for almost five centuries. A Victorian farmhouse, today part of a working farm, was erected in circa 1850 on the site of its old banqueting hall.

Location: Annes Grove Gatelodge, County Cork
Accommodation: sleeps 2: 1 double
Contact: +353 (0)1670 4733; www.irishlandmark.com

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Situated at the junction of three quiet roads, and surrounded by stonewalls and mature countryside, Annes Grove presents itself as a scaled-down medieval castle. Designed in 1853 by the architect Benjamin Woodward, of Deane and Woodward, and influenced by his study of Irish antiques, it is only one of two gate lodges of its type in existence. Distinctive interior features include a reverse spiral staircase and a wall walk over the entrance gate. Prior to restoration by the Irish Landmark trust, in association with Maura Shaffrey, it had not been inhabited since the 1940s. Close by the gardens of Annes Grove House runs the Awbeg River, which appears as the Mula in Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene.

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Location: Crosslake Farmhouse, Duncormick, County Wexford
Accommodation: 3 doubles, 1 single, 2 other rooms, 1 bunk room, 1 nursery with cot
Contact: Alexandra Blaker on 01730 810288; www.crosslake.eu.com or email alex.blaker@btinternet.com


This circa 1900 traditional whitewashed and slated farmhouse stands just a field away from the Irish Sea, not far from the Ring of Hook, with glorious sea views that include the Kierack and Saltee Isles. Its oak-floored interior is furnished in a modern rustic style, and there are old stone outbuildings and a garden with four standing stones and a small orchard. Crosslake stands at the end of a deserted lane with cows and sheep as neighbours; nearby is Bannow beach and there are exquisite, isolated beaches all along the coast, with seals, puffins and rare bird life. Occasionally, you will see dolphins from the front of the house.