Funny that our first place to touch down, rest and get back to feeling normal after a long haul flight was the last place we booked before we left home. Locating this little gem was an absolute stroke of luck after finding most of the midlands booked up as it was “Electric Picnic” festival time around our arrival (think Glastonbury but the Irish version).
Hawthorn Cottage is a green little oasis that took our breath away. As we entered the quirky little home, you could be fooled into thinking that you had actually walked into a book cover and entered a fantasy land. I couldn't believe we were going to live here for the best part of a whole week!
Originally built in around 1600, this cottage has been one of a small collection that have been restored by Irish architect Deirdre Dowling. I’m sure the residents of the original building had no such luxury conveniences as today's visitors, but while Deirdre has remodelled to include dishwasher drawers and in-floor heating for her guests to enjoy, she has also managed to capture and accentuate every charming feature that the building had retained, while adding some special ones of her own (such as the window and door handles).
The building is adorned with a glorious natural thatch roof and the original fireplace has been restored with antique oven pieces, giving international visitors a glimpse into what life was like way back when. There is also a picture of the original decaying building hanging in the sitting room as a reminder of the work that went into revitalising the property.
The original hallways have very narrow corridors and low ceilings which provides a hobbit -like experience when travelling through rooms, but also adds a warm cosiness to the small rooms. The lounge room boasts a stable door that leads out to the garden and pond, hydrangeas feature at the door and its quite the green romantic garden outside.
The new additions to the house contrast the old by featuring high ceilings and even a skylight over the shower in the modern country bathroom, reminding visitors that they are on holidays and not in fact living in a fairy tale for a moment.
The cottage is nestled just outside the small country midlands town called Mountrath, where Pat the Baker’s van arrives in the town square each morning like clockwork. There are golf courses of note nearby, the heritage town of Abbeyleix is not very far afield, and the Slieve Bloom Mountains nearby beckon for many walks and adventures.
The green woodland planted next to the property offer a home to a variety of wildlife, including birds and I even spotted a squirrel running along the fence. In the garden there is a pond feature and remnants of a vegetable garden in which to explore.
The quiet and warm ambience inside is a welcome escape from the everyday, its easy to curl up with a book on the sofa and look out the little cottage windows and into the golden autumn evenings. There are lots of lights and wall lanterns to take you into the night. Outdoors, a lovely seating area has been placed on the lawn, and on our sunny mornings there it provided an opportunity to admire that thatched roof and spot wildlife.
The main bedroom features French doors that look out onto the garden and after hot showers and a good 14 hours or so of sleep, we opened them to let the cool Irish air in to refresh us. We gazed upon the garden from bed as the net curtains meandered in the breeze, thoughts of staying there forever entered our heads. All a fantasy of course.
We had lots more to do and places to tick off our bucket list, but we will never forget our magical few days spent at Hawthorn Cottage.