Leave plenty of time to get here. The gardens are open from 3pm and 12 noon on a Sunday in order to give you time to enjoy a drink in the gardens or gaze at the view.
Please bring a picnic and set up a picnic rug on the lawn on arrival or during the interval.
Our operas are performed in two halves, with a long dining interval in the middle. (85 min) except for Sunday matinee which is 30 min. This is when most people enjoy their supper – wherever they have chosen to have it.
WHAT TO WEAR
Black tie optional.
Whether you are with us for a day’s shooting or taking over the house for a full weekend house party, we will ensure that you are spoiled from the moment you arrive.
Guns and their guests will arrive on the evening prior to the days shooting and be greeted with drinks and canapés by the open fires in the main house with a fully stocked bar. Views to the Blackwater over the lawns take in the ancient ruined abbey where a duel was fought in Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1975 film, ‘Barry Lyndon.’
A candlelit dinner is held in the dining room off the main hall.
The sumptuous dinner, with our friendly staff, draws on produce from the estate, where possible, with well-chosen accompanying wines served in decanters. It is then that the house comes into its nocturnal Georgian splendour.
Throughout your stay you will be hosted by Amy Cahill-O’ Brien, whose knowledge of hospitality in Ireland’s great houses is second to none. The bedrooms of the house offer comfort, warmth and every facility and there are downstairs cloakroom facilities off the main hall.
A full Irish breakfast takes place in the morning before shooting, overlooking the Blackwater river in the pretty breakfast room.
“A magical twenty four hours at Ballynatray. Wonderfully comfortable, mighty fine food, excellent wine, raging log fires, plenty of laughs, tremendous hospitality. And a fabulous day's shooting along the banks of the Blackwater River. And high on the hills above. Challenging drives in a proper wind, and a fine mix of pheasant, partridge and extremely sporting duck. What fun !! I will be back.”
George Baker, British Race Horse Trainer.
THE SHOOTING DAY
Typically, the day will be divided into three morning drives with a break for elevenses, lunch in the main house dining room, and one or two drives in the afternoon, followed by tea in the hall, after which the Guns depart.
Guns assemble at 9.15am (for a 9.30am start ‘live on pegs’) under the portico at the front of the house where peg numbers will be drawn and safety instructions read out by estate manager and shoot captain for your day, Joe Hilton. Guns are encouraged to walk between the drives nearer to the house to take in the tranquillity and serenity of the estate parkland. A Gun wagon is also always on hand.
There are twelve drives at Ballynatray and each are only shot every fortnight (where possible). Space between the pegs, and an army of knowledgeable pickers-uppers, ensure that Guns have plenty of room and scope to make their day.
Nearest the house is Dan’s Grove, offering testing birds pushed off a level escarpment, which come singly or in manageable flushes. Making a name for itself amongst returning sportsmen is Glendine, a wonderful wooded ravine which offers a challenging duck drive and also a pheasant drive. Those used to a ratio of 3:1 might easily find themselves here nearer to 10:1.
Elevenses are taken out of doors with perhaps a small glass of potcheen and an award winning local sausage. Typically, the shoot manager and beaters will be present at this, an opportunity for the Guns to ask any questions and to talk to dog workers who have, with their dogs, retrieved their birds. That is the watchword of Ballynatray: A feeling of sporting inclusiveness. You may well find yourself talking to a picker upper who is also a field trial champion.
Luncheon for the guns and their guests is taken in the dining room of the main house. Typical fare might be a home -made venison stew created from deer taken on the estate.
The afternoon drive or drives might see a return to Glendine or to any of the other estate drives. What they all have in common is a patient, unrushed beating line, and the opportunity to take well -presented birds in panoramic surroundings.
“Every modern comfort in an 18th century setting. Driven game shooting at its very best with sporting birds, unhurried drives, superb surroundings and luncheon, and staff and beaters who give every joy to visitors to have a real Irish experience.”
Rory Knight Bruce, Field magazine feature writer.