This County Galway cottage has been crowned best rental in Ireland
Sykes Gem Awards
A 'humble' thatched cottage near Woodford, Co. Galway has been named best in Ireland by the UK's largest independent operator of British and Irish holiday rentals.
'The Humble Daisy', run by Mary Rose Donnelly near the shores of Lough Derg, scooped gold in a national travel awards scheme by Sykes Cottages.
"It was the surprise of the century for us!" she told Independent.ie Travel.
The cottage, located a stone's throw from the lake about 10 miles south of Portumna, still retains an original hall and parlour dating from the 18th century.
Open year round, it sleeps six across two doubles and a twin bedroom, with rates ranging from €450 to €750 per week depending on the season.
The Humble Daisy was originally owned by Mary Rose's grandparents, but her family got the opportunity to buy it back several years ago - and grasped it with both hands.
Restoring the building took roughly 18 months, with a mezzanine level added to the original L-shaped footprint and, of course, some tricky thatch work.
"Thatch is idyllic and very romantic, but in reality a very difficult thing to manage," Mary Rose explained.
But the hard work, undertaken with the help of local tradesmen, was all worthwhile - restoring The Humble Daisy to its full glory.
"I like people to arrive and be pleased," she said. "I don't want it to be just any old thing slapped up. I want it to be the best it can be, basically."
Today, the cottage boasts a combination of modern and original features, such as exposed stone walls and an open fire. There's a rowing boat for guests, too.
Most of her guests (around 60pc) are British, Mary Rose says, with some 20pc from Ireland and the remainder from the US, Australia, Germany and France.
The Sykes Gem Awards saw thousands of entries from across the UK and Ireland, and were judged by a panel of leading travel industry experts, it says.
Other Irish winners included Ballyblood Lodge near Tulla, Co. Clare (Silver) and The Visiting House at Gorteen near Dunmore, Co. Galway (Bronze).
“Winning this award was a wonderful surprise as I know we were up against some strong competition in Ireland," Mary Rose added.
“It proves that going the extra mile for your guests doesn’t go unnoticed."
See the full list of winners here.