by Lissa Poirot
Just a short drive from Cork, along Ireland’s southern coast, awaits a grand manor house one would expect to find in the green countryside of Ireland. Fields filled with horses, goats, sheep and lakes filled with ducks and swans span acres where the ruins of an 800-year-old castle rests beside the manor house, making evening strolls in the cool mist of sunset feel as if you’ve stepped into the pages of a romantic novel.
Okay, so maybe the kids just see wide-open spaces in which to run free and squeal with excitement when they feed the horses carrots, but it’s nice to get a touch of that romantic countryside, even with kids in tow.
Built in the 18th century, the manor house has been elegantly restored to provide a quiet reprieve for families traveling to the south coast to visit Blarney Castle, Blarney Mills, Cobh and Cork. More than 100 luxuriously appointed guestrooms and suites range in size from 500 to 3,000 square feet, providing a countryside home-away-from-home for families looking to enjoy the quieter side of Ireland. During our visit we encountered families from Germany, America, and Switzerland, as well as those from Ireland looking for a summer getaway. This is a place where walks and horseback riding help families reconnect, especially when spending a lot of time touring the local attractions. Although it was isolated, it was one of our favorite spots during our Irish excursion.
Our Editor Loves
- Quiet, countryside estate
- Close to Cork, Cobh and Blarney
- Large rooms and oversized bathrooms
- Horse Back Riding
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The hotel is a collection of 103 rooms housed in the original and restored 18th century manor house, and a contemporary new wing of sleek wood and modern steel. The collection features six Manor Deluxe Rooms, four Grand Suites, 21 Junior Suites and 71 Deluxe Rooms that range in size from 500 to 3,000 square feet.
Each room features marble bathrooms with rainforest showers and separate oversized tubs the kids will think of as their own private mini-pool. They also feature central heating and air conditioning, flat-screen LCD TVs, Wi-Fi access and touch panel controls for lighting and drapes that admittedly were a little tricky for the adults to work out. The new wing can be quite a hike from reception and parking, so let the baggage carriers handle your luggage, and consider a stroller if you have young ones in tow.
The Family Rooms can accommodate two adults and up to three children. Connecting Family Rooms are also available.
A truly wonderful hotel! We attended a wedding in August and stayed in one of their family rooms. The rooms were beautiful, the entire resort was so picturesque. We loved it, really felt like we were part of the family than at a hotel. I can’t recommend this hotel enough.
by michelle d
This was our second time to stay in the walled garden lodges as a group of 12. delighted to get 3 houses beside each other. The houses are well equipped. Went for a swim in the hotel pool. Swimming pool lovely but the dressing area was disappointing for a 5 star hotel. The Hotel itself I found was nothing to write home about. Definitely recommend the houses. We did have a leak from one of the bathrooms down to the kitchen. The last time we stayed we did not have to give a deposit. This time €100 was actually taken from debit cards and were told it could take up to 10-15 working days to credit back. Not happy with this. The decking area at the back of the houses is a lovely area but it was very slippy and extremely dangerous. We will be back.
Archery & Laser Clay Shooting
Learn the ancient sport of archery from an ex-Olympian instructor or study the art of clay shooting with guns outfitted with infrared beams -- kid safe! Both programs are available in 90-minute sessions, although they require a minimum of four guests.
Walking Earl & Countess
Unique to Castlemartyr are its resident Irish setters, Earl and Countess. Children are invited to bring the dogs along on their walks around the grounds or play fetch with them on the expansive lawns.
Tour the Estate
The grounds of the manor home feature the ruins of an ancient castle built by Irish knights, as well as fields filled with horses and other livestock. On weekends, a guided tour of the Manor House, Castle and Gardens is offered, where guests can trace the footsteps of the Boyle family, as well as notables such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Oliver Cromwell. Tours are also available via old-fashion pony and trap.
Horse Riding and Fishing
Beginner horse riding lessons or long treks are easily organized by the resort. A day of fishing or flycasting lessons are also available.
Kids can enjoy unsupervised and free use of the Kids Zone game room, located next to the hotel pool in the Spa corridor. The game room features pool tables, foosball tables, air hockey and Nintendo Wii games. However, as it is unsupervised, young children will best enjoy this room while mom and dad are with them.
The resort's spa pool -- ozone-treated instead of chlorine -- is available to children twice daily at designated hours and is located between the spa and children's center.
Fota Wildlife Park
Nearby, Fota Wildlife Park in East Cork provides a fun place for kids to roam, with 70 species of animal from around the world featured in a free-roaming environment.
Despite the restaurants' decidedly formal appearances, children are welcome throughout the resort. High chairs are available, as well as a children's menu featuring chicken noodle soup, Irish beef stew, chicken fingers, fish sticks, burgers and more. The menu doubles as an activity book with a maze and crossword puzzle.
Bell Tower and Garden Rooms
Forget the rumors about Irish food, some of the best dinners ever had were found in these happy walls, overlooking the gardens and woodlands of the resort. Floor-to-ceiling windows, yellow and white furnishings and melt-in-your-mouth dinners (honestly the only way to describe them as we sat there "mmming" with every new bite) make this spot a must during your stay. Breakfast is also served here each morning from 7 to 11 a.m., where a buffet of cereals, pastries and fruits is available, as well as a la carte.
Located just a stone's throw from the modern wing of the estate is the Golf Clubhouse, which provides lunch, snacks and dinner from noon to sundown (which can be as late as 10 p.m. in the summer months). Less formal than the estate's main dining room, families may want to take in a lunch here.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babysitting services are available at an additional charge.
The Art of Smart Timing
Summer is high season, when families from around the world descend upon Ireland while the kids are out of school and the weather brings more sunshine than rain. Rain and mist is still a common occurrence in Ireland, and in the summer temperatures can be in the 50s or 60s, so bring a raincoat and a sweater. Due to its northern position, Ireland summer days can last well into the evening, with the sun set around 10:30 p.m.
Castlemartyr is located in the village of Castlemartyr, less than 20 miles east of Cork and the Cork International Airport.
You will need a rental car to get to this remote estate, which lies between the popular destinations of Waterford and Cork, en route to the peninsulas, Ring of Kerry and Limerick.
For Mom & Dad
The gorgeous 24,4000-square-foot Wellness, Spa and Fitness Center, features a number of treatment rooms and oversized VIP suites. The infinity hot tub facing a wall of windows overlooking the resort's grounds is one of the most unique. Select from facials, body treatments, massage, body wraps and exfoliation.
An oversized sitting room, sneak away for a nightcap of Baileys Irish Cream or an Irish whisky in this room of comfy chairs and private conversation areas in which to whisper away while the kids sleep.
For golf enthusiasts 16 and up, Castlemartyr provides an 8-hole, 6,790-yard, par-72 championship golf course. The course runs more than 220 acres of woodlands and lakes, and even past an ancient chapel and graveyard.