10 great holidays to take on Ireland's farms

Tom Breathnach and Mel Mullan discover 10 great rural escapes in Ireland, from Connemara to Clare
10 great holidays to take on Ireland's farms

Blessingbourne Estate, in County Tyrone: an escape from the herd

Blessingbourne Estate, Tyrone

“Farm stays have become almost as in vogue as Titanic Belfast right now!” jokes Colleen Lowry of Blessingbourne Estate in County Tyrone. 

Accommodation on the stunning demesne is self-catering with guests having options from the gorgeously appointed Stables apartment to the luxury Gate lodge. All guests receive a hamper of wheaten bread, jam and shortbread on arrival too. 

All of the accommodations here are dog-friendly, while the family’s own two dogs happily act as resident tour guides if you fancy a wander. To get even more active, there are miles of mountain bike trails on site too. 

Great value here at €160 per night for a two bedroom property; blessingbourne.com (TB)

Brookfield Farm, Tipperary

Brookfield Farm, Co Tipp: a great buzz for beekeepers
Brookfield Farm, Co Tipp: a great buzz for beekeepers

Bee kind! With a rising interest in conservation and biodiversity of late, a honey farm on the shores of Lough Derg is creating a certain little … buzz. 

Run by farmer and beekeeper Ailbhe Gerrard, Brookfield Farm welcomes visitors for pre-booked tours where you can enjoy a walk through acres of flower meadows while learning about the art of bee-keeping and honey making. 

You can even pick-up some souvenir beeswax candles in the farm shop. 

Tours from €10; brookfield.farm

To stay in the area, Fairy Fort Farm in Borrisoleigh offers a collection of great value century-old traditional cottages surrounded by a friendly menagerie of donkeys, chickens and goats. 

From €50; fairyfortfarm.com (TB)

Curra Farm, Connemara

Curra Farm, Co. Roscommon: pony up for an excellent equestrian experience
Curra Farm, Co. Roscommon: pony up for an excellent equestrian experience

Few Irish sights are more iconic than a Connemara pony — so checking into a Galway horse farm will surely ascend you to “peak Ireland”. 

Set just outside Moycullen on the glorious shores of Lough Corrib, Curra Farm is a five bedroom limestone farmhouse which makes an ideal self-catering base for a larger West of Ireland gathering. 

While in the area, visit Dan O’Hara’s homestead, a farming heritage centre brimming with cute Instagram moments, experience an underground tour of the Glengowla Mines near Oughterard or go horse-riding with the Connemara Therapeutic Centre in Clifden. 

Curra Farm rates from €1150 for 3 nights, dog-friendly; connemaraequestrianescapes.com (TB)

Burren Glamping, Clare

Glamping in the Burren, Co Clare: a trucking good time
Glamping in the Burren, Co Clare: a trucking good time

While looking for new and innovative ways to develop their eco friendly farm, owners Stephen and Eva converted an old truck into a stylish and comfortable space to form Burren Glamping. 

The word locavore takes on a new meaning here, with breakfast coming from the family’s free range pork and eggs with fresh fruit and vegetables from the polytunnel. 

The small scale farm is operated without chemicals and machinery with a firm focus on biodiversity. 

The truck itself is fully insulated with two double beds, stove and electric shower and lies close to many of the Burren’s attractions. 

If you’re looking to be inspired, as certified tour guides, hosts Eva and Stephen will happily curate an itinerary to suit your needs. 

From €130 per night; burrenglamping.com (MM)

Rock Farm, Meath

Having taken over Rock Farm in Slane ten years ago, owners Carina and Alex have worked to convert the farm to organic standards producing beef, pork and eggs; all available to buy in the farm shop. 

They also created a space on the grounds of Slane Castle for events (remember those?) as well as accommodation options including yurts, shepherds huts and a communal space in the woodlands, making it the perfect location for group or family gatherings. 

The farm and the surrounding areas are set on over 1500 acres of land and include the iconic castle and more recently the Slane distillery. 

From €120 per night; rockfarmslane.ie (MM)

Top of the Rock, West Cork

Top of the Rock, in West Cork: a holiday to bray about
Top of the Rock, in West Cork: a holiday to bray about

Having been passed down through the generations, Top of the Rock has become an integral part of the community in Drimoleague. 

Apart from farming meat and vegetables, Top of the Rock has space for tents, camper vans as well as seven pods that offer stunning views of the surrounding region including the Ilen Valley and the Castledonovan hills. 

Here, you’ll get an insight into life on the farm but also a cultural insight into the heritage of the community and the surrounding areas. 

Bring your hiking boots as there is no shortage of walks in the area with mountains of history to discover. 

From €65 per night; topoftherock.ie (MM)

Mount Briscoe, Offaly

Margaret Briscoe and her herd, in Mount Briscoe in Offaly: an udderly charming localiday
Margaret Briscoe and her herd, in Mount Briscoe in Offaly: an udderly charming localiday

Looking for a rustic break in Ireland’s Ancient East? Consider packing your wellies for Mount Briscoe; a working organic farm and Georgian country farmhouse set in the the wonderfully unplugged backdrop of Daingean, Co. Offaly. 

The Briscoe family are the seventh generation of the clan to farm here, welcoming guests to their self-catering Hunting Lodge which could easily grace the cover of Country Living magazine. While on the farm, take a walking tour to brush up on your knowledge on everything from rare-breed cattle and heritage orchards to bee keeping and hedge laying. 

Mount Briscoe also offer a charming shepherd's hut if you fancy some rustic glamping — there’s even stables if you’d like to bring your own horse on hols! 

Lodge/hut from €270/€100 per night; mountbriscoe.ie (TB)

Wexford Farm Tour

Any county synonymous with strawberries and new potatoes can be guaranteed to play a strong farming game. 

And down the Sunny Southeast, Taste Wexford offer a whole trail of farm experiences across the county. Head to Wheelock’s fruit farm to pick your own berries this autumn, pay a visit to Ireland’s only water-powered flour mill at Ballyminane Mills or take a tour of Macamore farm near Gorey to learn all about Liam Byrne’s impressive water buffalo herd! 

For a base in the area, check into the rather stunning Wilton Castle outside Enniscorthy which offers self-catering suites in this working farm hotel. 

tastewexford.ie (TB)

Blossom to Bottle Tours, Armagh

The orchard at Ballinteggart House, Co Armagh: the apple of the Troughtons' eyes
The orchard at Ballinteggart House, Co Armagh: the apple of the Troughtons' eyes

Cider has been enjoying a renaissance in recent years, but the Troughton Family at Ballinteggart House in Armagh have been running their orchard for four generations, using traditional methods to create their famous cider. 

Get a guided tour of some of their 80 acres of orchards while learning about the process behind creating Armagh Cider Company and their signature apple juices. 

Nearby Blackwell House offers the perfect pitstop for an overnight stay with a warm welcome, picturesque grounds and delicious food inspired by ingredients from the surrounding gardens. 

Be sure to check out the cooking classes here too. 

armaghcider.com (MM)

Ireland West Farm Stay, Mayo

Head west for a couple of days and immerse yourself in farm life in Mayo with a stay at Ireland West Farm Stay. 

This farm cottage in Carracastle has been converted to provide all the home comforts with a touch of the past echoing throughout the interiors. 

Your stay here is all about exploring the culture of the region with a wide variety of activities to enjoy including a farm & bog tour with host Eddie Dooney, live music by the fire with local musicians and a blacksmith workshop. 

You’re guaranteed to leave with lasting memories and even an extra skill or two after a stay here. 

From €99 per night; irelandwestfarmstay.com (MM)

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