Ballyhoura Country is the Christmas Gift That Keeps Giving
As we finally hit December, we can set our thoughts firmly to the festive season ahead…and the all-important Christmas shopping. For those of you who get the presents and bits ‘n’ bobs organised in the autumn – we wish we were as fabulously organised as you! – but for the rest of us, the scramble for those presents, foodstuffs, not to mention researching Xmas activities for the family to do, is only just beginning. But the good news is, last-minute or not, Ballyhoura Country has something to fill everyone’s Christmas stocking this festive season, offering offers a diverse range of gifts almost as abundant as a harvest at the renowned Ballyhoura Apple Farm!
Ballyhoura is so much more than just an outdoor destination, offering some amazing gifts for those who love handmade crafts, art, and culinary delights.
- Clair in Lough Gur Pottery crafts the most stunning designs, inspired by the surrounding rich landscape and history, and has some gorgeous Christmas gifts on her website, with nationwide delivery. From exquisite tableware to festive washing-line decorations to personalised Christmas robin decorations (€12.50) you can find a gift at Lough Gur Pottery for everyone and at all budgets.
- Meanwhile, in Bruff, Eithne Hehir from Ballyhoura Ceramics creates functional yet aesthetically-beautiful porcelain vessels, all lovingly hand-made by using the traditional handcrafted method of throwing on the wheel creating a unique piece of porcelain.
- Handmade with love by Michelle and Kevin in the Galtee Valley, Galtee Glow candles, diffusers and melts make a beautiful Christmas present, filling your house with festive scents including from their Black Iris and Winter Musk candles to a Christmas Pudding candle to Galtee Wood max melts.
- Deirdre Dunne is an artist settled in the foothills of the Galtee Mountains, whose paintings and prints (many of landscapes and wildlife from her extensive travels to Africa and the Middle East) would beautifully adorn the walls at Christmas, making an ideal gift. Her studio/gallery is open most days and she also give workshops and runs art classes for both children and adults.
- For the art-lover in your life, you can check out Great Artitute Gallery in Doneraile, Co Cork, which carries a wide and eclectic selection of Fine Art prints and paintings, as well as high-quality craft pieces, including jewellery, pottery, woodturning and crochet.
- A 2023 Calendar is a MUST for anyone at home or abroad who loves to keep up their connection with Mitchelstown. This year’s calendar is in aid of St George’s Arts and Heritage Centre in the town, and is available in local shops in Mitchelstown, or order from firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, we couldn’t compile a gift list from Ballyhoura without mentioning some outdoors-y things to do; here are some great ways to gift some crisp fresh air after lots of overindulging in December:
- Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails – ideal present for a family adventure day! It’s free if you bring your own bike (or you can rent a bike from Ballyhoura Trailriders), and only €5 for the car park. You can stay in the bike-friendly Deebert House Hotel, only 10 mins from the trail.
- Ballyhass Adventure Group offers a variety of activities for all age groups, especially teens and families, including Archery, Axe-Throwing, Aquapark, Kayaking, High Nets Course and Ziplining, while you can ease the tired muscles that evening with a stay in Charleville Park Hotel with its swimming pool and leisure club.
Christmas definitely wouldn’t be Christmas without the ubiquitous market and the visit to Santa Claus, and the Ballyhoura region has several experiences for you to enjoy this season:
- The Lough Gur Santa Experience runs until the 18th December. Meet Mrs Claus and her helpers, sit in Santa’s Sleigh overlooking the enchanting lake, before meeting the man himself.
- The Ballyneety Hub Christmas Market is on December 11th, where you’ll find local artisan food producers, jewellery, plants & wreaths, arts & crafts, food trucks, local choirs, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be stopping by! Further details.
- Friar's Gate Theatre is also getting festive on Sunday, December 18th with a mini Christmas market with local craft makers from 2-5pm , followed by a screening of the Film Home Alone at 5.30pm.
- Twilight Christmas Fayre in St John’s Church, Knockainey on Sat evening, 17th December. Enjoy the cosy warmth and twilight in the beautiful setting of our 19th century church. Soak up the Christmas atmosphere with a mulled wine or hot drink as you browse the many stalls of local handmade craft.
- Sli Eile Christmas Market on Sat 10th December, is when Santa and Mrs Claus come to Mallow, with presents for the children, who can also bring their letters for Santa and give them to the Elves to post. All money raised from this event goes directly to funding Sli Eile Farm. Fabulous selection of stalls, with face painting, raffle, live Christmas music.
How about gifting a Taste of Ballyhoura this Christmas? The region is a veritable nature’s larder, with a delicious range of local artisan food and drink, and if you’re stocking up the drinks cabinet in anticipation of friends and family coming to visit, then Ballyhoura’s fare is ideal.
- If your taste buds are tempted by Apple Chai, Hot Frisky or Red Mulled Apple Juicelook no further than Ballyhoura Apple Farm. Awarded a gold in this year’s Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards, it’s the perfect drink for Christmas this year: available in-stores nationwide
- JJ’s Craft Brewing is Limerick’s first brewing company, based in Killmallock and with an array of craft beers from Balbec IPA, Farmers Tan from Mad Culchie to Abbey Stout. You can mix and match and create your own package of craft beers to stock up for when visitors call!
- Award-winning chef Norma at Praline has a range of artisan chocolate bars, signature chocolate boxes and all handmade in Mitchelstown. What a delicious gift to get!
- Local, organic Christmas Hampers – from the farmer to you – are available from the Urban Co-Op in Limerick, an organic, sustainable co-operative Grocery and Wellness Hub
- Don’t forget – you can also shop local and buy a voucher from your local restaurant, coffee shop, local attraction or activity and help your favourite local businesses this Christmas
Would you like to try making your own decorations and gifts this Christmas? If so, you might like to create your own set of ceramic Christmas decorations in the fun, festive workshops on 9th & 10th December at Lough Gur Pottery’s Christmas Decoration Workshops. If you’d prefer leaving it to the experts, you can pick up arts, crafts and gifts in the various Garden Centres throughout the region: Ahern Nurseries, Rockbarton Garden Centre, Glenanaar Woods Garden Centre & Hennessy Nurseries
And finally, after all the stresses of the run-up to Christmas you might like to put the hint out to your nearest and dearest for some R&R gifts just for you! Two Green Witches is a family-run wellness business in Doneraile, providing a fantastic range of holistic healing therapies and aromatherapy treatments, as well as an assortment of organic skin and haircare products and a variety of gifts for all.