The accommodation at Ballymaloe is simple and elegant. We have a range of rooms in the main house -some large and airy with beautiful views over the fields as well as cosier rooms at the top of the house in the eaves. Our newer, light filled garden rooms are at the back of the house and look on to the river and oak and horse chestnut trees beyond. We also have charming rooms in a lime washed, rose covered, farm building in the courtyard.
All our accommodation has a calm and relaxing feel. Our beds are comfortable and fresh flowers are brought in from the garden everyday-in summer sweet peas and old roses and in the autumn and winter foliage and branches from the woods. There are paintings and drawings by Irish modern artists such as Pat Scott, Michael Farrell, Louis Le Brocquy and Norah McGuinness throughout the house as well as examples of Irish studio pottery.
You can have afternoon tea in our drawing room by the fire or in the conservatory filled with scented geraniums and winter jasmine which looks on to the gardens and river. There are benches dotted through out the gardens where you can sit in summer and read or listen to the sounds of the farm. In winter the drawing room is warm and peaceful-the perfect place to relax after a long walk by the sea and look out at the wild Irish sky.
Our restaurant serves locally sourced and home grown food from our walled garden and farm. Our head-chef Gillian Hegarty draws up the lunch and dinner menu every day depending on what comes in from the garden and the boats at Ballycotton. Fruit and vegetables are sent up every morning from the gardens- perhaps there is a glut of runner beans or courgettes or summer nectarines or globe artichokes. Herbs, edible flowers, soft fruits and apples come from our walled garden as well as onions, potatoes, kale, cabbage and salad leaves and many other vegetables. We have rhubarb plants which come originally from the walled garden of Mrs Allen's childhood home in Cork. Lemon verbena and mint are gathered to make our own herbal infusions. Brenda's fish van arrives at 4pm and it is not until then that the dinner menu is finally decided upon. JR our pastry chef might turn loganberries in to a sorbet or make a pear tart depending on the fruits that are available.
The gardening team at Ballymaloe are central to what we do in the kitchen. This year we have planted more borlotti beans, swiss chard, peas and broad beans, Chioggia beetroot, Castelfranco and Tardivo Treviso radicchio, Romanesco courgettes and red onion squash. We grow quantities of flat-leaf parsley, basil, sweet marjoram and mint.