Around 10km southeast of Midleton, off the R629 Cloyne–Ballycotton road, lies Ireland’s most famous restaurant Ballymaloe House, serving exceptional modern Irish cuisine using local ingredients, with some nice traditional touches – you’ll be asked if you want second helpings and you choose your dessert from a groaning trolley. There’s much more to this grand enterprise than just a restaurant: accommodation in the vine-covered, originally fifteenth-century manor house and adjacent courtyard mixes country-house style with contemporary art, and there’s a summertime heated outdoor pool, five-hole golf course and a tennis court, plus bicycles for guests’ use and walks around the extensive grounds and farm. Attached to the house is a shop selling crafts and, of course, kitchenware, with an excellent daytime café; there’s also a seventeenth-century grainstore that’s been converted into a concert venue. The nearby cookery school runs prestigious twelve-week certificate courses as well as a host of short courses, and you can visit the school’s restored nineteenth-century gardens, featuring the largest formal herb garden in Ireland and a Celtic maze.

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