Stories Preserved for Posterity
Drishane House, County Cork
A substantial and distinguished family home, awash with history, stories and the tang of the ocean.
All to return to after an energetic exploration of west Cork’s bewitching charisma – or perhaps a simple round of croquet on the lawn.
Vintage elegance in an atmosphere of timeless indulgence; perfect for a gathering of the clan.
Grand Expectations in Lofty Rooms
Built around 1780 in classic Georgian style, Drishane House has been in the same family for nine generations.
Impressive double doors with fleur de lis strap hinges allow entrance to a baronial hall. And it’s newish – the front door was re-located here from the east wall in 1820.!
Original lancet panelling conceals a side door to the kitchen. Already the sense of history prevails. In one corner, there is a fine example of a masonic Worshipful master’s chair – stories everywhere.
A sweeping stair case, dominated by a soaring, arched, multi-light window, occupies the centre of the house. Interconnecting double doors link through to the original entrance foyer, with its dramatic fan-lit glazed portal spilling out onto the east lawn.
The classical dining room is august and formal; dressed with gilded ancestral portraits hanging mutely on rich wine walls. Swags above the curtained windows date from 1820, and yes, there’s still a chamber pot hidden behind the shutters - lest a gentleman get caught short.
Across the foyer, the generous and sunny drawing room is well populated with furniture, loose cover armchairs, and a vintage baby grand piano. Someone conveniently added French doors to the southern lawn at the start of the last century.
The modern kitchen has been fitted out in light oak and has a gas hob and a raised electric oven to compliment the traditional four oven Aga. There is a full height fridge and a matching freezer, and a utility room for laundry and pantry requirements. A tight little secret stairs runs up to the west wing bedrooms.
Adjacent to the kitchen, the spacious breakfast room opens onto the garden patio – excellent for long al fresco luncheons.
consists of three generous double bedrooms, two with ensuite bathrooms, and two with romantic half-tester canopies above the beds.
There is also a south facing twin bedroom, with stunning sea views, that shares a contemporary family bathroom – complete with free standing claw foot bath.
A broad passage lined with books links the main house with more accommodation, including an impish kid’s bedroom with its own ample ensuite bathroom.
The acclaimed writer Edith Sommerville lived in Drishane House for most of her life, and her legacy is to be found throughout the home, not least in her capacious bedroom with its ensuite on stilts.
The house is equipped with everything you would expect from a traditional large home - and sometimes more than one of them. The house is centrally heated and there are wood-burning stoves or open fires in all the public spaces.
If you have a particular requirement, such as a chef, catering staff or a babysitter, please be sure to tell us in advance…
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Towards the end of the western extension, there is access to a separate self-contained apartment, consisting of two single rooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom. It also has a dedicated entrance.
Smoking - No, sorry!
The owners regret Stag, Hen, or 21st parties are not admissible.
Allergy Warning! Please note that this is a Dog Friendly Home. If you intend bringing a dog, please tell us about him/her when booking.
Dressed in local slate, the house is elevated on eighteen acres that cascade down ever more steeply to Castlehaven Bay. The informal gardens vary with the seasons; in spring the woodland floor is carpeted with daffodils and bluebells. Amongst the mature trees and shrubs are many specimen varieties and botanical curiosities.
The climate here is very mild, with moist Atlantic breezes warmed by the Gulf Stream that sweeps across from the Caribbean.
There is also a small herd of diminutive black Dexter cattle, an historic breed of Irish origin.
The property is situated at the top end of and within easy walking distance of Castletownshend village.
Out and About
West Cork is like a charm on the bracelet of the Wild Atlantic Way. We have food, festivals, folklore and the ocean – all inviting exploration.
We can’t list everything, so here are a few of our favourites...
Here are links to some of our favourite activities-
- Fish off the Fastnet
- Roaring Water Bay by boat
- Catch up on history
- Great music on Sherkin Island
- Whale watching with Colin
- Dine locally at Mary Annes
- Play a round at Skibbereen
- A bowl of mussels in Bantry
- Trek a pony in Ballydehob
- Go moonlight kayaking
- Grab yourself a pint at Ring Hayes Bar
- Yoga at an Sanctoir
- Dive off Baltimore
Annual festivals a-plenty include Traditional Irish music Festival, Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival, Skibbereen Food Festival, Cape Clear Storytelling, and many sailing events including Calves Week
About the Locality
The history of Castletownshend village, and Drishane House are entwined. Originally constructed by a prosperous merchant, the house is purposely positioned to monitor the comings and goings of his ships as they traded with America. The silent h in the middle was added in 1870.
The deep sheltered water of Castlehaven Bay was the scene of the sinking of a small Spanish Armada in 1602 that subsequently led to a game-changing event in Irish history known as the Flight of the Earls.
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Edith Sommerville (1858-1949) spent most of her life in Drishane House. Memorable for her writings in collaboration with her cousin under the pseudonym Somerville and Ross- of which The Experiences of an Irish R.M is probably the best known - she was also a highly regarded painter, with many examples of her work in the house.
painted by Edith of local girl Mary Anne
There is a sheltered beach at Castlehaven – five minutes away – which is ideal for launching kayaks, but for a more sandy and south facing beach, Tragumna blue flag beach is about 15 minutes away, and an easy cycle.
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There are three stained glass windows by the renowned Art Nouveau illustrator Harry Clarke in St.Barrahane’s Castletownshend church which you may find interesting. He was a particularly obsessed with blue qualities.
Just ten kilometres away to the North is the thriving market town of Skibbereen. Every Saturday there is a lively farmers market here with excellent artisan food and crafts.
30 mins away, Drombeg Stone Circle or The Druid's Altar, is one of the most visited megalithic sites in Ireland - go early to avoid crowds.
photo - Cawlef
Baltimore is perhaps Ireland’s most southern town. A 30 minute drive away, it is the terminal for ferries to Clear and Sherkin Islands. The town has a long tradition of wooden boat building.
Between 1880 and 1926 Baltimore was the largest fishing port in the country and 78 fishing vessels were registered locally.
By 1907, the fleet was so numerous that you could, it was said, walk to Sherkin across the decks of the boats! At one stage there were seven trains every day out of Baltimore, all carrying fish for the American market.
How to get there - Car advised..
By Air: Cheap flights to Kerry Airport (Farrenfore) Cork, Dublin or Shannon.
Kerry Airport - approx 2 hours from house.
Cork Airport - approx 1.5 hours from house.
Shannon Airport - approx 3.5 hours from house.
Dublin Airport - approx 4.5 hours from house.
By Sea: Ferry crossings from Pembroke/Fishguard to Rosslare.
Stena Express - 120 mins (summer only from Fishguard)
Rosslare Port is approx 4 hours from house
Dublin City Port/Holyhead has a fast crossing and is approx 4 hours from house
Gallery of photographs