Victorian B&Bs for an Irish St. Patrick’s Day

Dreaming of a St. Patrick’s Day spent amid the emerald hills of legend and lore? Here are three of our favorite Irish homes, built or re-built in the Victorian era and now transformed into B&Bs you’re sure to love.


Georgian house

Originally a modest Georgian house, Adare Manor was rebuilt in the 1850s by architect James Pain into one of Ireland’s Neo-Gothic masterpieces. Today, it’s a 5-star hotel. To learn more, visit or pick up our upcoming fall issue. (Photo: Thinkstock)



Ballinkeele House

North-east of Wexford, Ireland.

Why you’ll love it:

Built by architect Daniel Robertson in 1840, Ballinkeele is a fine example of early-Victorian Italianate architecture and décor—with its Doric columns, it’s simpler than the style’s later American Italianate incarnations, which allows it to rise gracefully from the surrounding emerald hills. The house’s stone façade is half-covered in creeping vines, and its red front door recalls the 19th-century’s buoyant “Dublin doors.” Inside, you’ll find rich red Oriental rugs over checkered marble floors and hardwood floors; walls painted in warm yellow or wallpapered in burgundy stripes; cast-iron, glass and crystal chandeliers; Corinthian columns rising to elaborately-finished ceilings; white moldings, cornices and other woodwork; well-preserved fireplaces; and polished mahogany four-posters draped with authentic chintz and damask.

Plus, for the history buff:

Ballinkeele once housed the revolutionary Hay family—including John and Edward Hay, brothers who were key figures in the 1798 Rebellion (The former was executed at Wexford bridge after the Rebellion, and the latter documented his experience of the Rebellion in his 1803 book History of the Insurrection of the County of Wexford, A. D. 1798. To learn more, you can read Edward’s account (available here as a free ebook) or attend a reenactment of the historic battle at the National 1798 Centre.



Martinstown House

South-west of Dublin, Ireland, near the Curragh (the heart of Irish flat racing).

Why you’ll love it:

Just a glance at Martinstown House is sure to make you smile: the 1830s Gothic cottage looks like it stepped straight from a storybook. The interior walls are painted in the same sunny yellow, lined by fine white wainscoting, and hung with ornate, gold-framed paintings and mirrors. In the drawing room, pale green couches coordinate with pastel green and blue porcelain table lamps. The peaceful en-suite bathrooms feature sky-and-cloud murals and Arts & Crafts-style pedestal tubs.



The Temple House

About 30 minutes south-east of Sligo, Ireland.

Why you’ll love it:

Colonel Alexander Perceval revamped the 17th-century house in 1825 and sculpted an Italianate garden in 1863. His house itself may have a formidable exterior, but inside, its period detail and charm will embrace you: stand along the landing’s carved rails and bask in the pale teal walls adorned with faux Corinthian columns and gilt arches and a ceiling finished with lavish detail. On the afternoon of your arrival, the morning room offers tea served on vintage china; and in the morning, the jewel-red dining room with its marble fireplace surround greets you with a traditional breakfast.

Plus, for the history buff:

Yes, it’s called “The Temple House” for a reason: in 1181, the Knights Templar built a fortress here, and its ruins still stand in the park. It’s also said that the aristocratic family who owned the estate from the reigns of Queen Elizabeth to Queen Victoria—the Percevals—can trace their family line back to Sir Perceval of Arthurian fame.



Have a favorite Victorian B&B in the Emerald Isle you’d love to share with us? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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by Elaine K. Phillips





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