Ireland is rife with beautiful locations: sea vistas, mountains, pasture lands, and rolling fields of grain. One of the best places we stayed was a self-catering cottage in Avoca.
The farm is at the end of a long one-track lane with verge on either side. Finding it was an adventure. The first lane brought us to a farmhouse where the lovely woman explained to us where we needed to go. We were close. Then another woman drove in and said she’d take us there. So we followed her to the right turnoff. I was nervous going down the thousand-year-old laneway because if anyone came at me, there was no way I could back out. Fortunately, we made it in and out three times without running into anyone.
It is an incredibly peaceful scene. The hosts live next door in Holly Farm. Sanchia explained some of the history to me:
The house has been here since the early 1600’s. There was a farm and people already living here then. The same family were here for eight generations before the farm was sold in 1918. It changed hands twice since then until we bought the derelict buildings in 2000.
The Granary was a farm outbuilding used for storing the grain used to feed a small dairy herd. It also held the milk churns before they were collected by the dairy.
The farm was a small one, 80 acres. It is now joined with the neighbour’s farm. He sold the derelict buildings and a couple of acres to us.
The lane is part of what used to be called ” mass paths”, going across hills and farms from outlying areas to the church–our lane went between Ballycoog and Croghan (the big hill with the windmills you can see from the deck) and Avoca church. The lane is possibly 1000 years old.
Croghan Hill is the scene of my research. We climbed it the day before and were now on the other side of it. The scene was remote, but we also felt wonderfully secure and part of the landscape. We were able to sit out on the back deck and enjoy the countryside. The weather is fickle; changing from sun to cloud to rain to wind and back again constantly. One of the more beautiful moments was this rainbow:
We were able to watch DVDs, cook our own dinners, read, and generally make peace with ourselves and our travels. Avoca is the town where Ballykissangel was filmed. I can’t imagine how the film team managed with all their equipment. They must have parked in the large lot across from the church on the hill. There are not many stores there–a touristy Ballykissangel shop, a small grocer, the Fitzgerald pub, a Tourist Info shop with computers/wifi–but Arklow is about a twenty minute drive and has all the shops including Aidi and a Dunne’s store in the mall. We also spent a day hiking in Glendalough, which was gorgeous and is less than an hour’s drive north (remembering that I drive slow on these thin twisty roads).
We loved the animals. Three dogs met us every time we ventured out; in fact, two of them spent the whole day with us when we first arrived. There are also a pair of white geese and a flock of free-ranging ducks. Birds sing, sheep bleat, and the wind whispers through the pastures.
Sanchia and Richard have lovely gardens and she gave us fresh zucchini and cucumbers from her hothouse! She also provided duck eggs, almond milk, butter substitute, gluten-free bread, and condiments. She caters to people with food allergies. Just be sure to let her know in advance.