Castletown House

Donaghmore, Co. Laois.

Castletown House is an early-nineteenth-century farmhouse set in scenic surroundings on a 200-acre beef and sheep farm, on which the ruins of a Norman castle remain (approached through open fields of grazing sheep). The house was completely renovated in 1979, at which time the 30-inch-thick outer walls were raised by 18 inches. This must be one of the best-value accommodations in Ireland: the bedromms are of a good size and there are several interesting pieces of antique furniture. Fresh farmhouse breakfasts an evening meals with home-baking are served in the dining room, which has a marble fireplace; there is a sitting room with TV. Guests enjoy gathering in the farm kitchen for a cup of tea and chatting to the friendly owners. Castletown House was the recipient of a regional Agri-Tourism award. A wonderful spot to stay a while and enjoy the many things to see and do in the area, including the Italian Heywood Gardens and the Agricultural Museum in the old Donaghmore Workhouse. Guests interested in genealogy can be assisted by Moira Phelan. A path leads down to the River Erskine, where fishing is allowed. Pets outside. No smoking in the bedrooms. Visa and Access cards accepted.

Open: March-December, or by arrangement. Rooms: 2 double, 1 twin, 1 family (all en-suite).