Thatched cottage in west Waterford makes for ideal holiday home
West Waterford is a quieter holiday destination for those who like a laid-back family break
Sir Walter Raleigh, the man who brought tobacco from America, and (anecdotally), the humble spud to Ireland, had a mansion named Myrtle Grove in Youghal. He made regular trips there for 17 years, and was even twice mayor of the east Cork seaside town.
Not alone did the colourful adventurer, soldier and courtier bring us the genesis of cigarettes and set us up for the Famine, he also found time to be part of the brutal suppression of the Desmond rebellion in Munster in 1580, for which he received 40,000 acres from a grateful Queen Elizabeth 1.
This vast tract extended from Youghal to Lismore in Co Waterford.
The wheels eventually came off for Raleigh when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London and finally executed for treason.
Across the broad Blackwater river basin from Youghal is the west Waterford village of Clashmore, and right in the heart of it is The Thatch.
This traditional stone built cottage dates from the 19th century, but the interiors are modern.
Completely refurbished in recent years, the three-bedroomed 993 sq ft cottage has a bright interior and an enclosed mature landscaped back garden.
There is also a large stone garage with roller door to the side of the house, with its own driveway.
Entering through the tiled porch, you step on to the light oak semi-solid floor of the expansive - 20ft7 x 16ft8 - lounge, which has an open fireplace, complete with timber mantel to complement the timber door.
Off the lounge there is a sunny bedroom looking out to the front of the cottage.
The 8ft2 x 10ft1 kitchen with its colourful wall tiles is located to the rear, with cream fitted units and three windows overlooking the vibrant back garden.
Off the main N25 Waterford/Cork Road, roughly halfway between Dungarvan and Youghal.
A major landmark at the top of Clashmore is the old Protestant Church, now a heritage centre. This was the site of the abbey founded by St Mochua, the patron saint of the village, in the seventh century.
The Thatch is just a few minutes' drive from the beautiful beaches near picturesque Ardmore village, including Whiting Bay, a lovely crescent of sandy beach protected by headlands, and a rewarding haunt for shore anglers.
Ardmore is also notable for its superb 12th century round tower and cathedral looking out over Ardmore Bay.
Dungarvan, with its beautiful harbour, and overlooked by the Comeragh mountains, is popular with tourists for its bustling streets, art galleries, Waterford County Museum and lovely places to eat, including the award-winning Tannery, run by Paul and Maire Flynn, voted Irish Restaurant of the Year in 2013 by the Restaurants Association of Ireland.
Youghal is one of the best examples of a Norman walled port in Ireland and the jetties on the quay are busy in the summer with boats taking advantage of the wide estuary and coastal sailing east and west.
Dungarvan and Youghal are also handy for bulk shopping, as the Dungarvan Shopping Centre in Shandon has Dunnes, while Youghal has a Lidl, SuperValu and Tesco.
WHAT TO DO
If you are into walking you won't have far to go, as the 8km Kilmaloo Walk starts from the Our Lady of the Wayside Grotto near the cottage. It includes lovely views of the Licky and Blackwater rivers, the ruin of the 10th century O'Heeny Castle, old ice houses and a still, built by the Earl of Huntington in the 18th century.
Another trek is the cliff walk at Ardmore, the start of the ancient 56-mile St Declan's Way pilgrims walk across the Knockmealdown Mountains to Cashel in Co Tipperary. The walk begins up a hill, past the Cliff House Hotel, passing a ship-wrecked crane and a viewpoint to the open sea, popular with whale spotters. You turn inland towards the ruins of Ardmore Cathedral, St Declan's Oratory and the round tower.
If you want to dine at the Cliff House's well known restaurant, you better book early. According to food critics John and Sally McKenna, it is "an Irish classic", the great food overseen by chef Martin Kajuiter.
With the Blackwater river and the sea nearby, water sports enthusiasts are well served. For instance, a trip down the river, or a sail in Youghal are recommended.
The Blackwater is famous for its salmon, but all kinds of fish are found in the multitude of habitats nearby.
Golfers have three championship courses in the Dungarvan area: West Waterford, at Coolcormuck Valley; the Gold Coast, in Ballinacourty, and Dungarvan itself, at Knocknagranagh.
They like their horses in these parts too and Monatrea Equestrian Centre, overlooking Youghal, for example, is an excellent facility.
The West Waterford Festival of Food in Dungarvan in April will showcase some of the best producers, chefs, restaurants and food businesses in Ireland, and will include an opening night barbecue gig, foodie film club, and comedy club.
There are many craft shops and galleries in west Waterford, but the Beach House Gallery, on O'Connell Street in Dungarvan, and the work of artist, illustrator, designer and writer Pippa Sweeney, is a bit special.
EATING AND DRINKING
Up the hill from the foreshore towards the cliff in Ardmore you will come across the Ardmore Pottery & Craft Shop, where you can enjoy a coffee before perusing the efforts of over 150 Irish craftworkers.
The White Horses restaurant in Ardmore is a big hit with food and hospitality critic Lucinda O'Sullivan: "Rustic in style, with country pine tables, fresh country garden flowers, and lots of local beautiful Ardmore pottery mixed with splashes of Nicholas Mosse's colourful ware … I have had dinner in the White Horses on three or four occasions, it is always packed with regulars, and the food has always been ace".
According to John and Sally McKenna, the food at the Nude Food cafe, deli and bakery, run by Louise Clark on O'Connell Street, off Dungarvan's main Grattan Square, "never misses the spot: pork belly with roasted butternut squash, couscous and hummus and char-grilled sourdough bread is outstandingly good".
West Waterford wouldn't be renowned as a holiday destination, but is a quieter choice for those who like a laid-back family holiday with plenty of golf, swimming and good eating.
WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE
The kitchen is not the biggest and overall this compact property probably wouldn't suit the holidaying dimensions of a larger family.
Clashmore, Co Waterford
Asking price: €169,500
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Reynolds, Bridge Street, Dungarvan, Co Waterford. Tel: 058 23444