Live like a Lord of the Manor in one of north Cork’s most impressive period properties. Ballyvolane House, an Italianate villa from the 18th Century, waits to welcome you
It’s easy to fall into the Lord of the Manor role at Ballyvolane House. This beautiful Italianate villa style home, which dates back to the 18th century, bears all the hallmarks of a grand lifestyle.
The boyhood home of Justin Greene, Ballyvolane House is now a boutique country house, run by Justin and his wife Jenny. The couple have had extensive experience in managing boutique hospitality properties in the UK, and working in luxury hotels all over the world. On returning to the Greene family residence in Fermoy, Co. Cork, Justin and Jenny took on the running of the bed and breakfast business started by Justin’s parents, to create an award winning culinary and luxury accommodation, unique in every sense.
In true Manor House Living style, you’re greeted on arrival by the family dogs, a merry little throng of terriers and spaniels who are always pleased to meet the guests. In spring and summer, you’ll probably spot the open top vintage Landrover Defender (the ‘Landy’, as it’s fondly known) bedecked in bunting, sitting on the gravel drive (more about that later). Step into the porch and wander down the spacious hall, where a glorious sitting room with big sofas, and a roaring fire in the evenings, waits to welcome you. Grab a drink and a book, put your feet up, and let the Greenes look after you.
Outside, manicured gardens and formal lawns are flanked by natural woodlands which come alive through every season. Ballyvolane translates as ‘the land of springing heifers’, which goes some way to illustrating the fertility and richness of the land on this estate.
In spring, a carpet of blue is created through the trees, by the blooms of millions of bluebells which flourish here. Apple blossom bedecks the orchard and bees are busy pollinating for the future crop. In summer, you’ll hear the gentle sound of birdsong as you walk among native trees and wild forest flowers. Summertime sees the house itself adorned with a trailing wisteria, whose pale purple blossoms hang lavishly from ancient gnarled branches. Autumn turns the estate to gold, amber and bronze. Fallen leaves crackle underfoot as you meander along woodland trails and paths. Winter wonderland is a magical reality at Ballyvolane, when frost bites or the first snow falls.
On the south side of the house, formal gardens comprise of three tiered lawns with seasonal flowering borders. Early in the year, snowdrops bow their little white heads as you pass. crocuses, daffodils and tulips introduce colour in spring. There’s also a perfectly manicured croquet lawn. White fan tail doves make their home in the traditional antique aviary and are free to come and go as they please. A peaceful gentile scene, presided over by a majestic Copper Beech tree, the grandfather of the garden.
To live like landed gentry here is to enjoy a wealth of fresh produce from the estate. The walled vegetable gardens are prolific and plentiful. An array of seasonal vegetables and fruit find their way onto the menu in the Ballyvolane dining room, a highlight of dinner here. Another highlight is the free range pork from the heritage breed pigs, good beef from the estate cattle that roam outdoors, and fresh eggs at breakfast, laid by the house’s own flock of free range hens.
Breakfast and dinner are served round the big dining room table in the formal dining room. It’s a communal and convivial affair for all the guests, more like a dinner party in your own home than a restaurant experience. The best of local foods are available and your hosts will serve at the table as you introduce yourself to your fellow diners.
During the days, feel free to borrow a pair of wellies if you feel like a stroll. If you like casting a line, Ballyvolane’s trout lakes are well stocked with rainbow trout and can be fished all year round. As you’d expect at this level of living, the house has a rod room with a limited amount of tackle for hire. (Needs to be booked well in advance)
Further afield, the house owns several beats on the Blackwater River, one of the best salmon rivers in Ireland. Fishing trips with ghillies can be organised. Salmon is fished in season according to the quotas on the river. And if you are lucky enough to get a catch, it can be frozen at the house or smoked by a local smokery within three days of delivery to the smokehouse. How about taking your own smoked salmon home after a few days in the country? You can’t get more Manor House than that!
HOUSE PARTIES AT BALLYVOLANE
The real way to experience this house in all its grandeur is with a private house party. These can be held for any occasion, bringing family and friends together under one roof. Guests have full access to the house and grounds, six beautifully appointed luxury ensuite bedrooms, and full glamping (glamorous camping) facilities in the grounds of the house. Depending on party size, meals will be served in the house dining room or the renovated old stone barn in the garden, which doubles as a dance floor and has its own private bar area.
WEDDINGS AT THE HOUSE
What a way to start married life, with a full house party for you and your guests at Ballyvolane. This is to the manor born, and you’ll have a lot of memories to carry forward into your marriage after the magical experience. Bride And Groom have several options as to where they want to tie the knot, from outdoor blessings and ceremonies in the gardens, woods and beside the lakes, to, as Justin puts it, ‘the rustic tin party shed’ if it’s raining. This is where the old Landy comes in – as transport for the Bride and Groom after the ceremony. The Wedding Feast is served in the vintage marquee in the garden, with the party and dancing in the old stone barn.
Ballyvolane caters for all types of weddings ‘barefoot to ballgown’. As Justin says, this is a chance to tailor make your own wedding, exactly as you want it, in a house that will become home for the time you and your wedding party are in residence.
Accommodation for the wedding party is spread across the rooms in the house, plus the glamping tents, original ‘Father Ted’ caravan (very popular for the Bride and Groom!) and the Pig Arc. Winter weddings are held in association with nearby Lismore Castle Co. Waterford. Ceremonies take place in the majestic surrounds of this historical Castle, with reception, wedding feast and the party held at the house.
Glamping is offered at the house in summer. Facilities include proper waterproof bell tents, with real beds, luxury mattresses and linens, sheepskin rugs, nightlight candelabras, a camping box with essentials like a torch, a map and matches. Shower facilities are not your usual freezing cold drip-in-a-shared-shed. These are state of the art individual showers with towels and toiletries provided. All glamping is catered.