In this instalment, James meets some of the people who have claimed a small piece of Ireland for themselves. He meets Helen Cassidy who runs an agency specialising in the sale of castles. Helen says, “I have a huge passion for Irish history and the fact that I can actually make my living out of selling castles, is a wonderful thing. I deal in dreams, they want a fantasy to become a reality and I hope the starting point for them is in contacting me and looking at what I have on offer.”
Helen takes James to view the 14th century Cloghan castle in County Offaly, a national and historical monument set within 157 acres, with three private gardens and 80,000 trees, priced in the region of €1.3m. James admits, “it’s a magical place, my girls would love it I think.” James then meets Brian and Elsie Thompson who have lived there for forty years, during which time they have lovingly restored much of the castle and made it their home.
Homes in Ireland don’t come much grander than the 18th century Longville House in County Cork, which has been in the same family for three generations. Capitalising on its late Georgian architecture, the O’Calaghan family have run the house as a hotel for over forty years. Aisling O’Callaghan says, “my children love growing up here so they appreciate all they have around them, the sense of space.” The house even has its own distillery to make apple brandy from the apples growing in the orchards of the grounds. James is impressed stating, “this is living off the land, Irish-style, and I’ll drink to that.”
Finally James meets the Trass family from Tipperary, who started with a small apple farm and have now branched out into pears, plums, sweet cherries, strawberries and raspberries. Con Trass explains, “when I was ten years old I used to come home from school and my dad would send me out for an hour or so to be with the pickers, so that would make it about 34 years of picking. I find harvesting fruit very therapeutic, turn off the phone and just go and concentrate on what’s on the plant, it’s very enjoyable.” Con is also about to hold Ireland’s first Apple and Cider Festival at his farm, a family event which proves to be a huge success.
James Nesbitt’s Ireland continues tonight on ITV at 8pm
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