Inishcoo is a large historic 18th century house on beautiful 109 acre Inishcoo Island just off Burtonport in Co. Donegal, NW Ireland. Situated on sheltered Rutland Sound, the main ferry route to Arranmore Island, Inishcoo House was built by the Marquis of Conyngham and has just been refurbished (and partly rebuilt) as an eco-house, but retaining its historic ambience and original furniture and pictures. This is the perfect family holiday, and with our grandchildren choosing to sleep in their “dormitory” on the fourth floor, we can accommodate 20+ in comfort.
There is a wide choice of`glorious sandy beaches on Inishcoo Island and Eighter Island (joined by a footbridge), and Oscar, our boatman and caretaker, is available for trips to other islands in fine weather, or for ferrying the short trip to and from the mainland etc.
Inishcoo is best for large family gatherings or for more than one family, and although we cannot guarantee the weather, we do have the warmth of the Gulf Stream and palm trees flourish on the mainland The weather is always interesting when it is changeable, as weather fronts move through so quickly. The next door island, Edernish, has a weather station which can be accessed at www.edernish.com You should bring wet weather clothing in case, but also suncream and sunblock as the air is so clear that you get sunburnt very easily. In bright weather, the colour of the sea is similar to the Caribbean. Lifejackets, fishing gear and golf clubs are provided, and there is a growing selection of wellington boots for adults and children! There is a lake on the island, and beware the boggy patches amongst the granite rocks and boulders.
This is arguably the loveliest corner in all Ireland, with stunning scenery, the clearest water in Europe, huge golden beaches, diving, sea-fishing, golf, great pubs and restaurants, the friendiest and most hospitable people imagineable, within the Gaeltacht area of west Donegal. Built in the 1700s, Inishcoo House is a unique and exciting property in a magical place, the house and 6 acres contained within high stone walls of pink granite, but with the run of the whole island as the only other inhabitants are the owners of 2 small holiday cottages at the far side of Inishcoo, who come for 3 weeks each spring, and the cows which swim and wade from island to island at will! Once discovered, no other holiday can replace that magic which has captivated all who have experienced it, and the children adore going there. There is even a recently discovered Spanish Armada shipwreck nearby, in shallow waters, and we have our own shipwreck on Inishcoo, completely submerged at high tide.
The heart of the house is a very large newly-built family room including a well-equipped kitchen. This links the old house with the impressive old stone boathouse, which has a mezzanine floor with a table-tennis table. Across the hall of the main house is a cosy, well-equipped library/games room for those wanting a bit of comfort and peace. Behind that is a playroom with a double sofa bed and right at the back of the house a large boot room/utility with a shower room and the back door.
The bed situation is there are 7 bedrooms and an attic dormitory. On 1st floor there are 2 double bedrooms (one with 2 double beds, one with 2 single beds) which share an intercommunicating bathroom (with shower over bath); 2nd floor has 3 double bedrooms and a cot room (which also has a single mattress) and if you like I can bring a small cot bed down for you. There are 8 mattresses for the attic (most favourite place for our lot), but if you would prefer the big downstairs room where there is a double sofa bed would, if not extended, have room for probably 4 mattresses and that is next to the boot room with the shower room off it. A small double room is on the second floor with a demi-lune window. The 2 other doubles on that floor are larger. The double beds are all 4’6″ but you could put the 2 singles together on the first floor and have a 5 ft bed. Or if you’ve got a couple who like their own space, they could each have a double bed in other first floor room. Or the 2 single beds could be for children. There is a shower room on 2nd floor too so 3 bathrooms, 2 with showers, one with bath/shower – all with loos and basins. There is also a separate downstairs loo (so 2 downstairs loos). There are 2 travel cots and a Z bed (or 2) and an igloo tent and a coastguard watch hut which our bigger children love taking a picnic breakfast or tea to.
The “garden” the children call it, between the walls, is the most exciting place to play sardines or hide and seek – a great favourite. There are games galore and jigsaws in the Library and 2 bridge/games tables. There are TVs but deliberately no satellite dish, but lots of old favourites in DVDs and Videos and the Mobile phone and Broadband reception is good. Best by a window as the walls are so thick. You can fit 16 round the big table if you include stools.
At high tide (16 ft tide) the nearest beach is still big enough to play on; at low tide there are beaches galore including on next door Eighter Island (with bridge). There are 3 sets of golf clubs and a spectacular links course on Cruit Island (15 mins drive from Burtonport) 9 holes. There is lots of fishing gear and a lobster pot. There are more than 20 lifejackets of all sizes. The children must wear them at all times in any boat. Adults must wear them in the RIB, but not in the Su Rose (Oscar’s boat). Our RIB is called the Bessy Bell. It is very comfortable and very fast, and Oscar has to drive it, He is very strict about safety rules.
You will love all the people round there – it is just the most magical place, and once experienced hard to live up to. Bring warm clothes and waterproofs in case. There are wellies to fit most sizes. Our kids bring 1/2 wet suits and some adults have those too. You also need strong sun lotion even if you think it’s not particularly sunny, because the air is so clear and the ozone layer thin. People get very burnt very quickly. Sun hats/baseball hats essential. There are shrimping nets, buckets and spades etc., and cricket bat, basketball net, table tennis table (upstairs in boat house), balls, and micro-scooters which the children love scooting round the house on the terrace. If the cows are on the island when you are there, they can’t get to the house or into our 5 acre “garden” any more, but they swim and wade out from the mainland when it takes their fancy, to whichever island has the greenest grass – very resourceful cows.
There are 2 large fridges, a large range cooker with fan ovens and gas hob, chest freezer, washing machine, tumble dryer, fan coil electric heating/air conditioning, outside lighting/floodlighting. You have to be careful to conserve water, especially if it is a dry summer. We have a drinking water cooler/dispenser in kitchen and on 2nd floor, but otherwise are dependent on rainwater storage and filters. So, if it rains you have the pleasure of knowing the water tanks are being replenished!
If any of this raises further questions, feel free to ask. The currency is euros of course. You will be met and looked after by Oscar Duffy our delightful boatman and caretaker who will be able to answer all your questions and Lisa our housekeeper. We can guarantee you will grow very fond of them both.