How this family turned a derelict farmhouse into a holiday hideaway

Big attraction: The restored Nell’s Farmhouse features in the Comeraghs Wild Festival
Big attraction: The restored Nell’s Farmhouse features in the Comeraghs Wild Festival

Claire Fox

Derelict farmhouses dot the landscape of Ireland's countryside, but one farming couple's decision to revamp an abandoned dwelling has paid off.

Mary Flynn and her husband Gerard have been managing a dairy herd in Rathgormack, Co Waterford for the last number of years under the shadow of Gerard's aunt Nell's former home.

Ten years ago they made the decision to restore the house and open it as a self-catering hideaway for tourists aiming to escape.

"It was an old vacant household that was going downhill quite fast so we had to make the decision to use it or lose it," says Mary.

Pictured at Mahon Falls for the Comeraghs Wild Festival. Away with the fairies! Ella (6) and Robyn (3) Whelan pictured with yoga instructor and fairy garden designer, Claire O'Sullivan, ahead of this year's Comeraghs Wild Festival
Pictured at Mahon Falls for the Comeraghs Wild Festival. Away with the fairies! Ella (6) and Robyn (3) Whelan pictured with yoga instructor and fairy garden designer, Claire O'Sullivan, ahead of this year's Comeraghs Wild Festival

"We had done the business plans for it at the height of the boom and then the recession hit. It managed to work well, though, and is a real success."

Mary says the majority of the guests to Nell's are from the US, New Zealand and Canada, but they have loyal visitors from Dublin who return again and again to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

"They just want to meet genuine Irish people and get a chance to see the workings of a farm," adds Mary.

Situated at the foot of the Comeragh Mountains, Nell's Farmhouse will play a key role in the Comeraghs Wild Festival to be held from July 11-14.

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A cookery demonstration with Decky Walsh of the award-winning Holy Smoke restaurant will take place at Nell's, where he will serve up a six-course feast of local delights.

An open-air concert deep in the Comeragh Mountains , at the foot of Mahon Falls, featuring singer/songwriter Don Mescall and the award-winning Mount Sion Choir is also another signature event.

Mary, who is chair of the festival, says the programme of events shows how passionate local people are about the Comeraghs.

"Whether you're into dancing at the crossroads, surfing, mountain biking, foraging, history, craft or food, we really have it all," she explains.

"This is a festival that showcases this region at its very best and celebrates our rich history, our deep traditions and this vast, unspoilt hinterland."

For more information on the festival go to visitwaterford.com

Indo Farming


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