Longueville House Review – a classic Irish country house in Co Cork

Longueville House is for sale.

That feels like the kind of information to share up front. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t book. If anything, it means you should experience an Irish country classic before it becomes hospitality history.

Set on 400 acres of grounds near Mallow, Co Cork, Longueville is a distinctive pink Palladian mansion that dates back to 1720. Before the pandemic, it had developed over two generations into a country hotel and restaurant, renowned for its locally sourced cuisine grown, farmed and collected products is known menus. But the big break has clearly led to a rethink. Now it’s at Sotheby’s and Lisney.

“We put our hearts and souls into it,” says Aisling O’Callaghan, who runs the Blue Book residency with husband William.

Before Covid they were up to ninety with leisure guests, weddings, lunches, dinners and afternoon tea, she explains. After Covid comes a new chapter. “You get one chance in your life at something like that, and that’s it.”

However, the sale could take months or even years – in the meantime it’s about exclusive rentals and the occasional weekend for holidaymakers. “We’re back to what we love to do,” says Aisling.

Last call for Longueville? I didn’t have to be asked twice.

Arrival & location

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Longueville House dates from the 17th century

Our sat nav takes us on a tour of North Cork’s back roads and an annoying scramble at the delivery entrance. However, turning onto the main entrance avenue, the view sweeps down to the River Blackwater and the manor house blushes in the afternoon sun, melting the frustration away.

We arrive in the August heatwave, a haze shimmering over the fields. Lounge chairs are on the lawn; a springer spaniel lying in the shade of a Doric porch. Aisling appears wearing a sun hat and gives us a warm welcome before leading us into the hallway. As my eyes adjust to the sun, antique cabinets, oil paintings and a skylight leading to a forked staircase materialize. Check-in is done at a small counter while our luggage is taken upstairs.

After we’re settled, we relax in a drawing room where coffee, tea and freshly baked treats are provided, along with a tall Kilner jar of well water and fresh mint. 7/10

service & style

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A cocktail made with Longueville House’s own apple brandy

I find Aisling and William in their element, enjoying a less hectic lifestyle and a steady stream of fewer guests. In a way, that’s what William’s parents did when they first welcomed guests in 1968. And visitor feedback suggests people prefer it, too, says Aisling. Bookings range from family celebrations to intimate weddings – the Turner Conservatory is a beautiful setting for ceremonies.

It feels like a home away from home – if your home was a country estate (only offers over €7m please). Amenities like marble fireplaces and mahogany floors can feel stuffy, and there’s no spa, but the handful of staff are easy to get, and worn armchairs scream lounging. It feels great and casual at the same time.

Outside we have the run of an estate with walking trails, explore the walled gardens and also have access to paid activities such as fishing and falconry. On a short walk through the orchard I see a hare among the apple trees, a wren and swallows scurrying out of a shed. 7.5/10

The rooms

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A deluxe suite at Longueville House

I love browsing through rural heaps and sensing the stories in the curios and heirlooms – whether it’s paintings of Irish Presidents, a built-in hatch bar, antique iron used as a doorstop, or a slightly spooky collection of dolls in the TV room. “Lots of details,” says the smiling barman walking past me.

This continues in the 12 suites and bedrooms, each uniquely designed but defined by the country luxurious sensibility you would expect. Ours has a sprig of Montbretia on the dresser and fresh roses on a table by the sash window. We quickly sink into armchairs here and enjoy the cool air and the provided fan (there is no air conditioning).

Decor mixes natural wallpaper, sage-green wood paneling, fabric lamps, antiques, and a marble bathroom with Voya products, though the shower is fairly dated now. There’s decent Wi-Fi, but no TVs in the rooms. 7/10

Eat Drink

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Dining at Longueville House

“He calls himself a chef rather than a chef,” William’s mother, Jane, tells me. When I meet him at breakfast—an easy-going, unpretentious presence introducing her own ham, fruit, scones, and juices—it makes perfect sense.

For dinner, guests gather in the drawing room from 7:00 p.m. William seems to be perusing the menu, a hymn to Longueville and its region based on a main course of roast pork, prune sauce, red cabbage and potatoes with fresh chives and butter. There is no choice but we are emailed ahead of time asking about allergies and preferences (my wife’s celiac needs are well catered for). The pork feels a little wintry for the weather but is delicious, and afterwards guests chat and mingle around the fire pit.

Longueville cider and cider can be purchased from display cases in the hall, and a unique way to experience the house and philosophy of O’Callaghan is during the annual Mushroom Weekend (September 30 – October 1). Experts lead guests on a foraging tour around the estate, and their harvest is then showcased in a picnic and dinner. 8/10

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The Drawing Room at Longueville House

The final result

Our heatwave visit has the house gasping for air, but log fires will lighten a whole different mood as the seasons begin to change. “I love this house in the winter,” says Aisling.

A personable, foodie and quintessentially Irish stay, Longueville reminds me of country houses like Ballyvolane, Newforge and Roundwood. We will miss it.

insider tip

There’s also a self-catering lodge – a backyard cabin with five beds that sleeps up to 10 people.

Prices

A mushroom picking weekend includes two nights’ accommodation with breakfast, a picnic and dinner from €800 for two people (September 30th to October 1st).

Exclusive rentals cost from €5,000 per night. The house can accommodate up to 26 people for a minimum stay of two nights. Meals and other activities extra.

Pól was a guest of the hotel. 022 47156; longuevillehouse.ie

https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/reviews/hotel-reviews/hotel-review-last-chance-to-stay-at-an-irish-country-house-classic-before-it-is-sold-41951888.html Longueville House Review – a classic Irish country house in Co Cork

Fry Electronics Team

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