A St. Patrick’s Day Trip to Ireland!

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I asked my good friend and photographer Sarah Winchester to write about her recent trip to Ireland.  She and her family had the exquisite honor of staying at one of the most incredible properties in Ireland and her pictures are too good not to share with you all! – Erin (Go Braugh!)

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Last summer my family and I had a true fairy tale vacation…we went to Ireland and stayed in a castle! A real life castle- Ashford Castle. This place is all your Downton Abby fantasies come to life…on steroids. The medieval castle dates back to 1228, but there is nothing archaic about this place. The Wikipedia page on the history of the castle is here  but let me tell you about our trip in my own words.

Two years ago the entire castle underwent a major renovation. Every inch of the place was meticulous restored, renovated and furnished; marble bathrooms, historic oil paintings, gorgeous antique furniture and decor, and silk wall coverings in every guest room (my two-year old may or may not have put a milk stain on one…) The property covers 350 acres with multiple gardens, woods, a clay pigeon shooting course, stables and a falconry school. Yes, a falconry school!

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Front entrance complete with refurbished Land Rover fit for the queen and the friendly doorman Patrick, who also recommend a great restaurant in Dublin owned by is cousin of course.

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Irish wolf hound statues guard the front. While real wolfhounds, Cronan and Garvan lounge in the great hall each morning after their walk, because what is an Irish castle without an Irish Wolfhound or two.

THE INTERIORS

As I said, the entire castle underwent a major renovation and restoration 2 years ago and no detailed was spared. They even have a line of wellies in every size at the front door…because this is Ireland after all.

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The great hall and corridors are complete with a chess set fit for a Lord (my little Lord) and formal oil paintings of your dogs…as one does. Not to mention a gorgeous billiards room, bar, wine cellar, spa and movie theater. The place literally had EVERYTHING!

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My parents room was located in the original Gothic wing of the castle and had the most amazing decorative pieces. Malachite obelisks and fish eye eagle mirror for the win!

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Our room, was in the newest wing because we needed an adjoining door to the kids room, but it was no less spectacular. Silk wall coverings with matching canopy bed, antique caned bench and a painting of Lord Fancypants to watch over it all.

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THE GARDENS AND WOODS

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We spent our days wandering the grounds, exploring the gardens, playing in the old ruins and “hunting for dragons” in the woods. The kids just ran wild. It was wonderful. (Warning, upon arrival, awaiting each child on their bed was a robe, slippers, cookies and plastic sword. Giving a 2 and 4 year old a sword in a castle filled with antiques and Waterford Crystal gave me a slight hear attack so we tried to regulate sword usage to outside only. Let just say we helped chop many a boxwood.)

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ACTIVITIES

We were there for 5 days which gave us plenty of time to soak in all that beauty and try a few activities as well.

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The stables were just a short walk away and filled with sweet ponies. Ridding on an Irish estate really completes the castle dream, no? I fear I have ruined my daughter for life. This place is like Disneyland but for real. “Not every trip is going to be like this honey.”

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Not to miss out on other Downton Abby type activities, we tried out hand at clay pigeon shooting. My sister and I did our best to play the part…lets just say, she is the Mary and I am the Sybil :) And our instructor, Tim, was wonderful and looked everybit the part in his wool and tweed.

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Also on the property is Ireland’s School of Falconry! Yes, basically real life Hogwarts. We didn’t do the private hawk walk but we did pop in and visit the birds. Hawks, falcons, owls, you name it. I kinds of wish we had done it, but as spoiled as we are we literally couldn’t do everything.

VILLAGE OF CONG

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Not to be forgotten is the darling Village of Cong. A short walk from the castle there are some pubs, a few book stores, shops and some old Abby ruins. The1952 movie The Quiet Man staring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, was filmed there. With the addition of a gas station or two, not much has changed. There isn’t even an ATM. My sister and I loved getting up early to take a walk through the woods to town and then back to the castle for breakfast. Again… living out our Downton Abby fantasies.

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Hope y’all enjoyed my trip to Ireland. I know we sure did. Slainte and Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all.

-Sarah Winchester
All photos ©Sarah M Winchester

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I Want To Go To There: Greydon House

I have been patiently (ok, not patiently) for the opening of Nantucket’s newest boutique hotel Greydon House for months now. I’d seen sneak peeks and it looked to be right up my design alley.  And now that it’s open and the interior pictures have been circulating I’m delighted to say HOLY SH*T I’M FREAKING OUT.

This place is perfection. Total, complete perfection. Designed by the famous Roman & Williams (architecture by Emeritus Development– also fantastic), the interiors could not be more on target with the classically preppy look full of antiques and yet with modern touches.  I think this is a magical project and I am counting the months until I can go spend a weekend here (I tried booking a room for Stroll a couple days ago and that was hilarious because of course every room on the island is already booked, especially these.)

Here’s a peek at the fabulousness that is abound at Greydon House:

SO MUCH YES.
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It’s All In the Details…

I cam across this incredible Parisian real estate/ renovation and design site A+B Kasha and fell MADLY, MADLY in love with everything I saw. Of course, as with most things, the French just do it better. And that goes for architecture too. Don’t get me wrong, a love a good, old New England Greek Revival- but the details found in the old apartment buildings in Paris are hard to beat. And I adore seeing a development company like this really celebrating all the gorgeous historical millwork, hardware and small accents that really make these spaces works of art. And seeing them empty and pristine like this just shows how much potential is there for decorating!

Get ready to SQUEAL.

Look at all that detailed crown and millwork. And the FLOOR! And windows. And the LIGHT! The light in Paris is just special.
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