Big House bash

For a New Year’s Eve get-together that feels more intimate than a hotel, a Big House in the Irish countryside is just the ticket…

For a New Year's Eve get-together that feels more intimate than a hotel, a Big House in the Irish countryside is just the ticket for large groups of friends and family. Alanna Gallagherrounds up some contenders

Farran House

Co Cork

This former B&B is an elegant 18th century, Italianate style, Irish manor house 15 minutes from Cork city.


The antique-filled house has six bedrooms: four in the main house that can sleep eight to 10, and two garden rooms that can sleep up to four.

A New Year’s Eve meal costs €40 per head and includes curried parsnip soup, home-grown leg of lamb served with seasonal vegetables, roast potatoes and lemon cheesecake with bottled autumn fruit for desert.

Musical types will be pleased to hear there’s a 1903 Bechstein grand piano in the drawing room, perfect for sing-songs while the full-size billiard table in the billiard room should keep teenagers happy.

Sleeps:14 maximum.

Cost:€1,600 on a self-catering basis for a minimum of three nights starting December 30th. Add full Irish breakfasts on each morning for €12pp. Seven nights for €3,400. or tel 021-7331215.

Turin Castle

Co Mayo

This castle in Kilmaine, Co Mayo is a Norman keep-style property with great acoustics and its very own minstrels’ gallery for musicians to hold court.

A New Year’s Eve meal is from €50 per head and, if you don’t have your own house band, musicians can be hired from €400. On a good day the views from the roof are spectacular. The nearest pub is about three miles away in the villages of Kilmaine or Shrule. Martina, the taxi driver, lives across the road from the castle and is happy to ferry passengers to and from either location.

Sleeps:12 maximum (four in master). Children over 10 only.

Cost:two-night stay on December 30th and 31st is €2,000 on a self-catering basis. or tel 0404-40923.

Ross Castle

Co Galway

This fine house in Rosshill in Connemara was the one-time family home of Violet Florence Martin, who under the pseudonym Martin Ross, co-authored Some Reminisences of an Irish R.M. with Edith Onone Somerville. The property includes luxuries such as an indoor swimming pool. There are five bedrooms and five bathrooms. The kitchen is staffed and will serve guests breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner each night with wine.

On New Year’s Eve, head to Kineevey’s, a landmark pub a half a mile away. Babysitters costs €10 per hour. There will be 35 other people on the estate over the New Year. The stables are booked for a wedding.

Harpists and fiddlers can be arranged but it might be preferable to politely ask the bride and groom if you could come and join their dancing.


Cost: €7,500 on a full-board basis for three nights. This includes breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner each night with wine. or tel 091-550183.

Beaufort House

Co Kerry

This is an 18th century manor house six miles outside Killarney. Set on 40 acres of woodland, the property overlooks the River Laune.

Walkers can explore Tomies Wood, one of the largest natural oak forests in Europe and the Gap of Dunloe. Both are minutes away by car.

You can draw lots over who gets to walk back through the Gap to the Black Valley and take a boat through the lakes and back to Killarney.

Sleeps:30 (eight in the main house and 22 in its four courtyard cottages).

Cost:a four-night minimum stay is €3,140 for the main house, €740 for the four-bedroom cottage, €540 for the three-bedroom cottage and €428 for each of the two-bedroom cottages. This gives a total of €5,276 for 30 people. Gas and electricity is extra. or tel 064-6644764.

Enniscoe House

Co Mayo

This is a seven-bedroom B&B in a country estate on the shores of Lough Conn, 12 miles from Ballina.

Leonard’s in nearby Lahardane is a great old-fashioned pub and the perfect place to ring in the New Year.

Taxis are available and cost about €15-€20 return. Or stay put and enjoy a traditional roast goose dinner followed by a glass of champagne at midnight. There is a supplementary charge of €20 per person for this festive dinner.

The property is licensed to serve drinks until the wee hours.


Cost:take the whole house for €300pp on a dinner and BB basis for the minimum three nights. Kids under three stay free. Children aged three to 12 are charged for food only. Children over 12 cost €50 per child per night. or tel 096-31112.

Coolclogher Manor House

Co Kerry

This is a six-bedroom property that dates from the 1700s. Bring your hiking boots as the property is a five-minute drive from Killarney National Park. Film-maker Michael Moore and actor Bryan Cranston, the dad from the TV series Malcolm in the Middle, have stayed here.

A four-course meal can be arranged for any or all of the nights and costs €50 per head but, given the proximity to Killarney, it would be a shame not to explore some of the culinary delights the town has to offer.

Try the recently opened The Smoke House (tel 064-6620801 or or Chapter 40 (064-667 1833 where New Year’s Eve menus are from €50pp. For pints try the Lock Inn, O’Connor’s or The Danny Mann Inn. Taxis cost €7 into town.


Cost:three nights cost €3,500 on a self-catering basis. Seven nights €5,500. or tel 064-6635996.

Ardtarmon House

Co Sligo

This house in Ballinfull, Co Sligo ticks a lot of big group boxes. It can accommodate up to 27, which really adds to any party atmosphere. There’s flexibility on the number of days you can rent the property for too.

The main house has four double bedrooms sleeping a total of 11. There are also several cottages on the estate offering basic accommodation.

The gate lodge takes six, and the thatch and garden cottages four each. Barn and garden cottages take two each.

The nearest bar is Ellen’s pub, about two miles from the property. And if you fancy a New Year’s dip in the Atlantic, Ardtarmon Strand is 500 metres from the house.

Sleeps:27 to 29.

Cost:€105pp for B&B (buffet-style breakfast) and one evening meal (New Year's Eve) for a two-night minimum stay. This is based on a group of 27. or tel 071-9163156.


Co Derry

This is one of the great Georgian country estates of the northwest.

The neo-classical country house was designed by Charles Lanyon and is set in 1,000 acres of parkland. Guests have access to a lap pool, spa treatments, games room and cinema room. There is shooting and fishing and a nursery for the kids.

Sleeps:up to 28 (16 in the main house and 12 in the Clock Tower's two apartments).

Cost:the main house is €818pp for a two-night minimum stay on a fully-catered basis. The two-bedroom apartment costs €544 for a minimum two-night stay while the four-bedroom apartment is €1,111 for a minimum two-night stay. Both apartments are self-catering. or tel 048-77722649.

Artramon House

Co Wexford

In Castlebridge, Co Wexford this is a listed Georgian mansion set in four hectares of parkland. The property is owned by Germany-based Countess Walderdorff and offers stunning views of the River Slaney and home-made farm produce of milk and cheese.

There are five double bedrooms and one single.

Local chef Phelim Byrne (tel 053-9184995 or does all the catering for the house and is offering a five-course New Year’s Eve meal for €85pp.

This includes champagne reception, wine with the meal and Irish coffees to follow.


Cost:€4,180 for a four-night minimum stay on a BB basis. This includes the use of a whiskey honesty bar. Or choose a four-day minimum self-catering stay for €3,080. or tel 053-9159395.

Castletown House

Co Kildare

This is one of the country’s finest examples of Palladian architecture. You can’t stay in it but you can stay on the estate, which is on Celbridge’s doorstep.

Ring in 2010 in Michelangelo Restaurant (tel 01-6271809), an Italian, family-run eatery on the estate’s doorstep. Starters cost €5, mains €10 and dessert €5 per head.

Or install your group in the Village Inn, where Arthur Guinness’s father Richard worked when it was a brewery back in 1722.

Another option is The Village at Lyons ( or tel 01-6303500) where New Year’s Eve group menus start from €55 per head. It’s a 10 to 15-minute drive away.

Sleeps:nine in two estate cottages.

Cost:three nights' self-catering is €990 for the round house and €585 for the gate lodge. Light and heating are extra. or tel 01-6704733.


For forward planners who want to organise a giant shindig for New Year 2011, Ballinacurra House (021-4779040) is a tastefully decorated venue outside Kinsale, Co Cork that can accommodate up to 56 people.

Michael Jackson stayed here about three weeks before he died and the Dutch royal family chose the location for a get-together. The property costs €5,500 per night to rent.


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