Sometimes on my lunch break my mind wanders to planning a weekend away so I hit the net to see what interesting spots I can find. That was how I stumbled across the absolute gem that is Roundwood House. I promptly contacted them and made a booking for a Saturday night. for myself and himself.
Situated in Mountrath in Co. Laois the house is owned and run by Hannah and Paddy Flynn. Hannah actually grew up in the house and Paddy hails from across the pond (USA if I remember correctly).
The house was reportedly built-in 1781 but it wasn’t until 1983 that it opened its door to the public as a guest house. The website has a great section on the history of the house which is well worth a read.
There are a number of accommodation options at Roundwood. You can stay in the main house itself at a rate of €75 pps for B&B or stayin the yellow house for €65 pps for B&B. In my experience many older properties split accommodation in this way. Where possible I like to stay in the main house and really immerse myself in its surrounds. It’s just over an hour from Dublin to reach Roundwood House so in terms of commute it’s very doable.
Pulling up outside the house you can’t but be impressed with its size and On arrival we were greeted by Paddy himself. Quite the character and he immediately welcomes you to his home like you are part of the family.
We were promptly shown to our room, which was the blue room. The clue is in the name funnily enough.
The room was large with its own bathroom. The floors creak a little and there was even a fireplace in it and large wooden shutters on the window. There was also a large bookcase filled with a variety of books. I was glad to see they had kept its original features and not stripped them all out in favour of some bleak modern design.
Once we had settled in we headed back downstairs as Paddy had told us he would be serving us tea in the drawing room. An impressive room with a huge open fire and more books set on side tables for anyone who wanted to take a look. There was no TV in the drawing room and no TV in the bedrooms and I was really impressed with that. Himself asked Paddy about it and he said that they prefer not to include TV’s anywhere as it encourages people to talk instead. Himself wasn’t thrilled with the idea and moaned a bit about having nothing to do. I on the other hand was delighted and more than happy to explore this new concept of ‘talking to each other’ and see if it caught on.
Tea as it turned out was proper tea with a teapot and china cups and saucers served by the open fire. Sure I was in my element settled into a big comfy chair with my pot of tea. We were also given a wine menu to choose from which would also be served by the fire. Himself perked up a little with the mention of that.
After tea we took a drive to the local town for a wander. Not much to see really but that didn’t phase me. I was happy enough hanging out in the house drinking my tea and reading a book. The trip after all was all about relaxing. When we got back we went for a wander in the grounds. It wasn’t ideal as it had been a wet few days and there was plenty of muck but a stroll around the woods and some fresh air is always welcome. There was some lovely little out buildings and also a cottage towards the back of the main house which you can also rent out. Himself was grumbling on about having nothing to do. He doesn’t do well in secluded places with no TV apparently.
All that fresh air had me gasping for a glass of wine so it was back to the drawing room and the fire and a nice bottle of white wine. One of the great things about the house is that the owners take the time to sit down and get to know you. It’s optional of course, they don’t force themselves into your company, but the are happy to sit and relax and tell you about the house and their lives and listen to you in return. If there had of been a TV I think that opportunity would have been lost and we would have been the poorer for it.
As it turned out Paddy and Hannah also cook for their guests in the evening. A three course dinner is €50 pps and is served at a commual table in the dining room. The website describes it as follows:
Think of dining at Roundwood in Co. Laois as going to a dinner party with friends you haven’t met yet, unless you are coming with your friends, in which case you can think of it as a dinner party that you don’t have to wash up after.
There were about 6 of us for dinner that evening all sat around a communal dining table enjoying the set menu of the day which was full of local produce. I don’t have any pictures of the food but I can safely say the plates were cleaned and the food was fabulous. There was also a roaring fire beside the dinner table. I don’t know if it was that or the amount of wine I had but it certainly got warmer as the night went on.
There was a great mix of guests at the table. A couple who owned a stud farm. A man who bought and sold antique books and another man who owned a wine bar. As it turned out and as is typical in Ireland after much conversation there was plenty of cases of ‘oh yes I know him/her’ and ‘ah I used to work with him/her’.
After dinner our little dinner party moved back into the drawing room for many a night cap and some wonderful stories from Paddy. It was the early hours of the morning before we went to bed and it was one of the most enjoyable evenings I have had in a long time. There is a lot to be said for removing TV’s laptops and wifi access in a bid to encourage people to talk to one another again.
The visit was finished off the next morning with a slap up fry and we departed Roundwood House rested and smiling secure in the knowledge that should we return Paddy and Hannah would greet us just as warmly.Hannah & Paddy Flynn Roundwood House Mountrath Co. Laois Telephone: +353 57 8732120 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.roundwoodhouse.com
Note: I’ve stolen a few pictures from other websites and have labelled them accordingly. Really only because some of mine were just rubbish and it would be a shame not to showcase Roundwood House in all the glory it deserves.