Stables at Burtown House

Co.Kildare, Leinster, Ireland Book from Book from £162 per night

Former stables re-imagined as a boho-chic cottage for 6 and studio for 2, set in delightful gardens with a superb farm-to-fork restaurant
In the late 17th century, this green and pleasant corner of County Kildare became a Quaker stronghold centred on the village of Ballytore. Nearby Burtown House was built in 1710 by one of their community, and, remarkably, has remained in the same family ever since, often passing through the female line.

Today the sustainably-run estate is in the hands of photographer James Fennell and interior designer Joanna, plus their three children. They converted the two-storey stable block into their stylish, cosy home a decade ago. Their more recent move into Burtown House allowed the three-bedroom Stable Yard and one-bedroom Studio to be offered to guests. It was James' mother, renowned artist Lesley Fennell, who developed the gardens into a visitor attraction, adding rare plants from her mother's collection, and reclaiming and rewilding paddocks and woodlands. She still oversees the planting and lives across the stable yard. It was James who saw how popular their small cafe was and had the bold idea of adding The Green Barn in 2016 - a purpose-built farm-to-fork restaurant showcasing 48 kinds of home-grown organic produce. It also comes with a bar, south-facing terrace, artisan farm shop and gallery. So now, tranquil Burtown offers a truly unique and wholesome experience for couples, outdoor enthusiasts, plant-lovers, foodies and families alike.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • Rustic-chic interiors successfully mix historic and contemporary, artistic and practical: family heirlooms, custom-made furniture, colourful kilims
  • Delicious, sustainable food, much of it from the walled vegetable garden (in continuous use for over 150 years)
  • Stables guests get free access to 12 acres of gorgeous gardens, including an orchard, woodlands, sculptures and yew walk, plus 180 acres of farmland, wildflower meadows and willow fields
  • Easily accessed just off the M9, 45 minutes from Dublin
  • A wonderful sense of history: no other house in Co. Kildare has been in the same family for over 300 years

Lows

  • The restaurant is closed Mondays-Tuesdays, and only open for dinner Fridays and Saturdays
  • Availability can be an issue in the summer when weddings are understandably popular
  • You'll need a car to get here and explore the area
  • The gardens are open to day visitors February-October but you always get the private walled Stable Garden to yourselves
  • The ambiance is rustic rather than luxurious in the cottages, but we loved it!

Best time to go

In a country where you can see all four seasons in a day, it's reasonable to assume that you'll weather the weather whatever the weather. Summer months are warmer and drier, winters have a bleak beauty too (worry not you'll be cosy in the cottages). The gardens are at their most alluring May through August. The kitchen gardens provide their best bounty in September and October.

Our top tips

We loved visiting the Wicklow Mountains National Park for their glaciated valleys and heather and grassland uplands. There are good walks around the lakes and the impressive remains of the 6th-century monastic settlement at Glendalough.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique cottages
  • 4
  • Self-catering, restaurant on-site
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Stable Yard (sleeps 6) was once James and Joanna's family home and it shows. We loved the practicality - a well-equipped kitchen with Aga, a laundry room - all styled with understated elegance that doesn't stint on comfort. Upstairs, the master bedroom has an ensuite double-ended bath, while the twin is beside the family bathroom with a rain shower plus another bath. Downstairs, a third double bedroom is hidden behind a swinging bookcase off the living room, which has an open fire.

Design details include tables and headboards shaped from estate wood, botanical prints by Wendy Walsh, figurative pictures by Lesley Fennell (James' mother), and an appealing mix of family heirlooms and acquisitions from all over. Stable doors open onto a south-facing suntrap garden, while the long double-storeyed layout allows light in on both sides.

At the far end of the stable block is the Studio (sleeps 2), which comprises an upper mezzanine with fireplace and sitting area, and a ground-floor four-poster bedroom with kitchenette separated by an open bookshelf and a shower bathroom to the rear. Big windows look over the gardens towards Burtown House itself, you get a private outdoor seating area too.

Larger parties can book both together (sleeps 8+) for maximum privacy and space; extra beds and cots are available.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The Stable Yard has a full kitchen including an Aga and dishwasher, with a separate dining room with a table seating six (there are other chairs to add if you're taking the whole house). The Studio has a kitchenette with fridge, toaster, crockery and cutlery plus a good-sized dining table beside the big picture window, but has no cooking facilities.

Tea, coffee, milk, bread, preserves, butter, organic farm eggs and homemade elderflower in season are provided on arrival, plus a box of seasonal vegetables if booking through i-escape. There's an honesty bar with organic wines too. Jo's Pantry and farm shop showcases local produce, there are supermarkets in Athy (15 minutes) for more supplies, and there's a Saturday morning farmers market in Carlow.

We confess we were too smitten by the colourful classy plates served at farm-to-fork restaurant The Green Barn to cook much when we stayed. Its brunch menu runs from nutty granola to poached eggs via Belgian waffles. Memorable lunch dishes included Ardsallagh goats' cheese truffles featuring candied pecans and house pickles, the seasonally changing green burger (or juicy home-reared Dexter beef burger as preferred) - with twice-cooked chips, house aioli and beetroot hummus - swoon! Our son still recalls his fantastically presented chocolate brownie with misty-eyed devotion. And helpfully, if you order from the Stable Yard menu of main dishes and picnic baskets before midday, your food can be delivered later that day at an agreed time.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Barbecue
  • Chef on request
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Meal delivery service
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
  • Catering on request
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Stables guests get 24/7 free access to 10 acres of gorgeous grounds.
  • If lovely gardens are your thing, there's also Coolcarrigan Gardens & Arboretum in Co.Kildare & Altamont Gardens in Co.Carlow.
  • Tennis court with racquets to borrow.
  • Good walking nearby, especially in the Wicklow Mountains National Park; also farm walks on-site.
  • Co.Kildare is horse country: The Curragh is Ireland's most famous flat racecourse, with all five classic races in their calendar (25 minutes away); go horse riding at Stradbally Hall.
  • Historic Co.Kildare sites include Ballytore Quaker Village, home to Edmund Burke and the Shackleton family, with a pub dating to 1750; the second tallest Celtic cross in the country is in Moone; Mullaghmast has a prehistoric standing stone on the site of a ring fort.
  • Complimentary bicycles to borrow.
  • Both weekly and private yoga classes as well as therapists available with advance notice.

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Tennis
  • Yoga

Kids

A lovely sojourn for a family, with safe walled suntrap gardens to play in and full access to Burtown House Gardens. The Green Barn restaurant has a kids' menu if self-catering becomes a chore. Teens may be a bit bored here unless they are into walking and horse riding, which are the big draw locally.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Families are well set-up in Stable Yard, which has two double bedrooms and a twin plus a family bathroom. If you take the studio as well there's space for a family party of eight. The Studio can take a couple with a baby.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chair
  • Stair gates

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Stable Yard has a well-equipped kitchen and there's a great farm shop on site. For additional items there are supermarkets in Athy. The Green Barn has a kids' menu serving crowd-pleasers such as sausage and mash, tomato pasta, fish and chips, and chocolate brownies with ice cream.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Tennis
  • Exploring the grounds
  • Bikes to borrow

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Assault course in Moone
  • Horse riding in Stradbally Hall
  • Canal walks in Athy

Families Should Know:

The Green Barn restaurant is closed Mondays and Tuesdays and not open for dinner apart from Fridays and Saturdays, and is closed for Christmas and January. There is a stream and old woodland garden next to the Stables and there are friendly dogs on the property.

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour (Dublin)
  • Hospital: 15 minutes (Athy)
  • Shops: 15 minutes (Athy)
Kid Friendly:

Location

The Stables at Burtown House & Gardens are found in Co.Kildare near the historic Quaker village of Ballytore and the town of Athy. They are a convenient half-way point between Dublin and Waterford or Kilkenny. Allow 45-60 minutes from Dublin, 25-30 minutes from Kilkenny, 50-60 minutes from Waterford.

By Air:
Fly to Dublin. You can hire cars easily at the airport. Cork airport is 2hr20m away.

By Car:
Most will venture here by car. There's car parking on site.

By Public Transport:
You can get a bus or a train from Dublin to Athy and get a taxi from there to Burtown House, which is a 10-minute journey.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Dublin 77.0 km DUB
  • Cork 208.0 km ORK

Other:

  • Beach 76.0 km
  • Shops 8.6 km
  • Restaurant 19.5 km

Rates for Stables at Burtown House

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