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Nowhere is Ireland’s history more eloquently expressed than in our “Big Houses”. Architectural awesomeness and centuries worth of history combine beautifully in stunning natural settings. Drop in for afternoon tea, or even better.
Blackwater Castle, Co Cork.Be king of the castle for a night and lord it over 25 of your very best friends with a private rental of Blackwater Castle. A 12th-century gem, built on the site of a 2,500-year-old fort, it sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the River Awbeg. All sorts of aristos have stayed here, from Sir Walter Raleigh to “king of pop” Michael Jackson.The current owners can organise anything from casual barbecues to hospitality on a grand scale – including housekeeping, bartending and babysitting. What more could you and 25 of your very best friends ask for? From €3,000 for a weekend stay.
Lisheen Castle, Co Tipperary.Built in the early 1800s and burnt out in the Civil War of 1922, the restoration of Lisheen Castle was a labour of love for the Everard Family, on whose dairy farm its ruins stood. Reopened in 2000, it’s now available for weekly rentals, either self-catering or all-inclusive (which includes day trips and tours), and has been attracting groups of up to 14 guests ever since.Almost all of these have come from the US and Canada, which makes sense because, if you’re going to come and see the oul’ sod, where better than a place from where you can see half of it in one go – the views from the roof are panoramic. From €6,240 a week.
Annes Grove, Co Cork.Think castles can’t be cosy? Check out the miniature medieval one at Annes Grove near Castletownroche. Built in the 1850s to impress visitors to Annesgrove House (as if its famous gardens weren’t impressive enough) it has all the stately touches the discerning castle lover could require. These include loop hole windows for firing arrows out of and leaded ones for looking out of, plus battlements and its own turret. Okay, so there’s no banqueting hall, but it has a decent kitchen and a large open hearth in the sitting-room, with a cute wood-burning stove in the middle of it. The one-bedroom castle is available from €305 per weekend.

Until tomorrow: Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.

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Dorothy Prats
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