Having completed two thirds of my very big bag order (big order, not big bags!), the Chief Cutter and I decided to have a treat and take ourselves away.  Deciding where to go is always tricky, living as we do in the most beautiful place.   We decided to head up country to Lismore, a small town just across the border from Cork in County Waterford.  And it was lovely.

We stayed at the Ballyrafter Country House Hotel which is not quite as grand as it sounds but is old and comfy and friendly.  Peat fires in drawing and dining rooms, an old glazed door telephone cubicle in reception which is now a broom cupboard and worn rugs on polished wood floors.  Just right.     

Lismore itself stands on the magnificent Blackwater river and boasts a fairytale castle, cathedral and associations with an eclectic bunch of peopleEdward Burne-Jones designed one of the stained glass windows in St. Carthage’s Church of Ireland Cathedral;

 the indomitable traveller and writer Dervla Murphy was born there;  Fred Astaire’s sister, Adele, married the Duke of Cavendish and lived in the castle in the thirties and, as recounted by Eric from Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Lismore castle is ‘where Charles and Camellia chose to stay when they visited Ireland’.

And what a castle it is.  Standing high above the river it has the look of a film set and romantic thoughts of knights on chargers galloping along the riverbank to rescue damsels crying out from its high towers sprang to mind.  The building is private but the gardens are open and even on a grey damp day, they looked wonderful.

These pictures are from the top garden which is beautifully maintained and very English with its miles of carefully clipped box hedges and neatly mown lawns.

The lower garden is less formal and has trees – tall, straight, beautiful trees.  I miss trees, living on an island blasted by Atlantic storms and sea spray.

And vast rhododendrons that really are this pink.


If it wasn’t for the traffic crossing the bridge from where I took this picture, I could have looked at this view for hours.  I’d like to go back when there’s a blue sky and sunshine.  I bet it sparkles then.