Ireland Guesthouse: Knockahopple Cottage
Cead Mile Failte - one hundred thousand welcomes. This is the welcome when you visit http://www.knockahopple.com, and I am sure it is more than one hundred thousand welcomes when you are lucky enough to visit Knockahopple, in Ireland.
Foxy and Liam: Foxy pulls Liam with Katie and Pat standing by. Knockahopple, County Tipperary, Ireland
We first found out about Knockahopple Cottage when we found our Ireland Editor, Corey Taratuta, of IrishFireside.com. We then featured Corey's partner on Irish Fireside, Liam Hughes, as our Artist of the Month. Liam's shard jewelry is just incredible - so very creative, evoking different times and places.
Ireland Guesthouse: Knockahopple Cottage
Liam also runs Knockahopple Cottage, a very special Ireland Guesthouse. When you read Liam's love of place, or see the gorgeous photos that just SHOW you that this place is well-loved, you feel like you've come home. We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Liam about Knockahopple, just in time for St. Patrick's Day! Here's what he had to say...
WE: Please tell us about Knockahopple...
LH: Knockahopple is a townsland in Ireland where my family comes from and still live today. It's located in a gorgeous section of the Silvermines Mountains of County Tipperary.
Townslands can be tricky because they may consist of only a few cottages or a small stretch of road. People in the nearby village of Nenagh might not know how to find Knockahopple, but they would know how to find Dolla, and the people in Dolla would know how to find Curreeny, and the people in Cureeny would know how to find Knockahopple.
Foxy pulls Liam. Knockahopple, County Tipperary, Ireland
I had been visiting Knockahopple since I was a kid, and about 25 years ago,I asked my cousin if there were any cottages for sale in the area. Just down the road, there was a cottage that had been closed up for several years. I decided to jump at the chance and began restoring the place. Now, I run Knockahopple Cottage as a guesthouse in the summer and a rental the rest of the year.
WE: What led to your interest in running a guesthouse in Ireland?
LH: It started entirely by chance. A woman my mother knew with ties to that part of Ireland contacted me. She was over the driving age limit to rent a car in Ireland, and she asked if I would tour her and a friend around.
At first, the idea of traveling for two weeks with two septuagenarians was a little scary...What would we do? How would I keep them entertained? Would I go crazy? In the end, we had a remarkable time. On the last night, one of the women pulled me aside and told me my passion for Ireland was unmatched and she suggested I make a career of sharing my passion for the "real" Ireland.
At Knockahopple Cottage, County Tipperary, Ireland
The following summer I started taking groups...small groups of two to four people, and since then I've built my business entirely on word-of-mouth advertising. I offer a very unique, specialized service, and I've got guests who are booking their third and fourth trips with me. It's quite an honor.
WE: What sorts of opportunities do you offer your guests?
LH: Well, in my case, visitors really are staying in my home. Unlike Ireland's commercial B&Bs, my cottage doesn't have a special wing for guests. It's a B&B the way I remember them when I first traveled to the Emerald Isle well before the Celtic Tiger hit. Yet, I only take one group at a time, so when people stay at Knockahopple, it's like they have their own special cottage in Ireland.
As for the experience, I serve a full breakfast in the morning, and then we head out for a day of touring or activities. No two visits are the same, and I simply try to take into consideration each visitor's interest and show them the special places I've discovered over the years. My friends and neighbors are great about including guests in the community as well. They will invite them to a special mass at a holy well, a local fundraiser or a music session in nearby farmer's home. Things that wouldn't normally be available to the average traveler.
The Press, Knockahopple Cottage
WE: Please tell us about the area where Knockahopple is located...
LH: Knockahopple is quite centrally located in the Republic of Ireland. It's easy to do daytrips to big sites like the Cliffs of Moher, the Rock of Cashel, Waterford Crystal (if they reopen), Kilkenny and Lough Derg. The real treat for me is sharing the collection of local sites that never make it into the guidebooks...ancient stoneworks, ruined castles, abbeys, nature walks, gardens.
I've had guests who decided on their second visit to never travel more than 60 miles from Knockahopple. Their itinerary was packed, and they still left with a list of things they want to catch on their next visit. Staying focused on a smaller geographic area completely changes the experience a person has in Ireland.
The kitchen, Knockahopple Cottage
WE: What advice do you have for people traveling to Ireland?
LH: Well, this is a pretty good year to go. Tourism is down and the value of the dollar is up, so you experience more, spend less and don't have to fight the crowds.
I also recommend people poke around my website www.knockahopple.com, so they become familiar with the type of services I offer. Although my tours are customized, I don't really want to take people on a whirlwind, green blur tour of Eire that covers all four corners of the island in ten days. That's not my style.
WE: Thanks so much, Liam. Your guesthouse is beatiful, and your enthusiasm and love for Knockahopple shines through. We can't wait to come visit!
Across the road, Knockahopple Cottage
For more information, and to book your stay at Knockahopple, please see: http://www.knockahopple.com
And for more information on Irish Fireside, please see:
All photos courtesy and copyright of Knockahopple Cottage