Panacea is a secluded family cottage on Achill Island with sea views, tastefully renovated into a Country Estate. This was our family’s cottage in a past generation, on the rugged, rural, scenic west coast of Ireland. We recently made it our family holiday home which we designed, furnished, and decorated for an elegant and cozy feel, yet retaining the old-world charm and feel of the original cottage. Panacea is full of high-end furniture, antiques, period accessories, quality kitchen ware, towels, and linens. Our home is available for weekly rental throughout the entire summer season, and any other time of the year we are not in Achill. Come be our guests.
In 2004, we bought the family cottage which is located in a small, rural village called The Valley, on Achill Island. Mary's mother grew up in The Valley, and this cottage, her "favorite cottage in The Valley," was owned and built by her cousin. Achill Island is the largest island off the coast of Ireland, connected to the mainland by a short bridge. It is in the West of Ireland (in County Mayo) which is known for its rugged beauty and undeveloped coastlines. Achill Island is still very undeveloped, and because of its remoteness and serene beauty, it has been a popular place for writers, poets, and painters to spend their creative sabbaticals. More recently, it has also started to become a popular place for Dubliners and other Europeans to "holiday." Although a number of Holiday Cottages have been built in the last few years, the island is still very rural. One still must drive slowly around the narrow, windy roads, and frequently wait for cows or sheep meandering in your path.
We started a major renovation project on the cottage in late 2005, turning it into a four-bedroom, five-bathroom "country estate" which we named Panacea (meaning "a cure for everything"). The project was finally finished in early 2007. When we or family members are not there on holiday, we are making Panacea available for vacation rental.
Achill Island is about 12 miles by 14 miles and has about 3000 people living year-round in its 22 small villages. You can count on at least one pub in every village. (Our "local," as they say in Ireland, is just on the other side of the lake behind Panacea, in an historic estate of English nobility now called The Valley House.) In the holiday season, the population grows to about 12,000. The tourism supports several good restaurants, but with grocery stores nearby and a complete kitchen in Panacea, guests can choose to stay huddled in the "cottage" in front of a cozy turf fire -- now that's the real Irish way.
A Bit of Personal History Behind This Project
The idea of "Panacea" as a name for a cottage comes from Gordon's grandmother's summer cottage in Chautauqua, Illinois. This name always seemed so fitting for a peaceful "get-away" cottage in a village like Chautauqua. Although Achill Island is so different from Chautauqua in many ways, in so many other ways they are alike. So taking the name of Panacea seemed as fitting for the quaintness, the smallness, and the friendliness of the inhabitants of Achill Island today, as it was for Chautauqua many years ago. And by taking this name for our new "Chautauqua" in Ireland, we have combined the heritage from both sides of our families.
But of course we had to have the Irish (Gaelic) word for "Panacea" to do full justice to the Irish side -- and we were excited to find out that there actually is a Gaelic word for Panacea. So ... the Gaelic name for our "cottage" is Uile-íoc (pronounced illa eek), which literally translates to "cure-all". You will find both names on the distinctive bronze plaque that graces the entrance to our "cottage."
Mary's mother, Bridget, always wanted to return to Achill Island, but she never did. She had such a hard time leaving it the first time back in 1947, she was afraid that if she ever went back, she would not be able to bring herself to leave it a second time. She always said, "I don't want to go back because I don't want to leave my seven kids without a mother."
Bridget died a few months before we visited Achill Island for the first time in 2002. We always thought how pleased she would have been had she known we even went back. But when we fell in love with the place, and returned two years later to buy her "favorite cottage in The Valley," we couldn't begin to imagine the elation she would have felt if she were still with us. So there was a bit of sadness throughout the project. At the very outset, we decided to build Uile-íoc (Panacea) in honor of Bridget Grealis Scheumbauer....Read more
"Stunning accommodations and incredible island experience!"
Left on 05/04/2011 for a stay in April 2011 | JaredReviewed May 4, 2011Stayed Apr 2011
Just back to the us and wow what a time on achill Island in the West of Ireland. Panacea lives up to it's meaning (Cure all)--we arrived as over-plugged-in americans and were truly able to relax and enjoy the many sights and sounds on achill. 5 adults on this stay and Panacea offered comfortable room for all in sleeping areas, bathrooms, and main living areas. All at Panacea is top rate and we had full support throughout the process.
Experience the Pub setting, the atlantic Drive, the deserted village, the beaches, the smell of turf fires, and so much more. The mainland is within your reach from Panacea as well. Take a day trip to visit the monastery ruins at Cong, the grounds at ashford Castle, or the unforgettable Killary Harbor at Leenane. We did all of this and so much more.
Would I recommend Panacea? I'd prefer to say that I'd insist on Panacea! Will I go back? Absolutely!
Left on 04/28/2011 for a stay in May 2010 | Jim and KarenReviewed Apr 28, 2011Stayed May 2010
The home is beautiful. Filled with top quality appliances, very secluded and beautiful decor. Plenty of room and well laid out. Secluded yet close enough to enjoy the beautiful scenery, Irish pubs and some golf! We'd recommend it to anyone who wants to get away and truly relax.
Left on 04/26/2011 for a stay in March 2008 | F and J Golwitzer and familyReviewed Apr 26, 2011Stayed Mar 2008
Our stay at this charming, comfortable Irish cottage was a wonderful experience. Even though the weather wasn't always ideal, we managed to tour the island and travel to some of the surrounding towns, learning and enjoying every minute.
We would come back to the warm cottage, make a lovely turf fire and cook a hearty meal in the cozy, fully-equipped kitchen. After enjoying our meal we would sit together in front of the hearth and visit about the interesting things we'd seen and people we'd visited with that day. A few evenings, of course, we visited the local pubs. The patrons were friendly and entertained us with stories and singing that we will long remember!
Achill Island is a special place. It has spectacular scenery, a unique history, a homey, pastoral feel and friendly, open people.
We recommend a stay at Panacea to anyone who wants to experience the magic and warmth of Ireland.
Left on 04/22/2011 for a stay in March 2011 | Julie ScheumbauerReviewed Apr 22, 2011Stayed Mar 2011
The cottage was very secluded and offered a great atmosphere for that Irish cottage life. The amenities were modern, great cooking facilities and very clean. The cottage was decorated with great antiques and kept with all the charm an Irish cottage. Great place to seek the quiet evenings by the turf fires with family and friends. There is also great pubs/restaurants that are close and offer a variety of local music, food, and Irish company. ...and all the local sheep and cows who come to call just right outside your window..
Left on 04/18/2011 for a stay in April 2009 | A FlipKey verified reviewerReviewed Apr 18, 2011Stayed Apr 2009
My family and I stayed for a week at Easter time and found the property to be really well restored and well designed ,with a master suite upstairs away from the bustle of the huge living space downstairs. A beautiful open fire combined with the dark wood decor left a great atmospheric impression on us all, the main detraction from the enjoyment of the stay, was that the underfloor heating system struggled to heat the ground floor living space effectively, and when we tried to light too big a turf fire we found it bilged smoke into the entire ground floor. So we just wore our jumpers inside and out! This is a really beautiful part of the world, and this house furnishes you with the luxury to enjoy it at it's best.
Yes, we did have issues with both the underfloor heating on the ground floor and the draft of the turf fireplace in the Hearth Room. We finally determined the root cause of both problems in 2010, and both issues have been resolved.
Each room on the ground floor is controlled independently so each guest can set it to their optimum temperature. But things didn't seem to be working properly. After many attempts to resolve it, we finally determined that during the original renovation, two of the five thermostats were mis-wired -- each thermostat was controlling the temperature in the other room! You can see how this would not work well, and cause confusion and difficulty in diagnosing the problem. When we figured it out, we hired a new plumber to straighten it out. Now, the zoned temperature control on the ground floor is working great!
Regarding the smoky fireplace, we were also very frustrated by not being able to keep smoke from entering the house. After talking with many local folks and closely observing many Irish fireplaces that seemed to work very well, we finally determined that we needed to partially close the large opening. We had a stone expert come in, and together, we designed an enhanced fireplace with stone walls inset into the original fireplace opening. We spent two weeks at Panacea after this was done, and we built perfect fires every night -- no more smoke in the house!
These two issues were clearly "kinks" from the original renovation that have been resolved. We regret than any of our previous guests were inconvenienced.
A FlipKey verified reviewer
Left on 03/12/2011 for a stay in March 2008 | A FlipKey verified reviewerReviewed Mar 12, 2011Stayed Mar 2008
We thouroghly enjoyed our stay on achill Island. What a magical place it is! The accomodations were terrific - very comfortable and homey. From the down covers to the outstanding water pressure in the shower, the stay was magnificent. The kitchen was great - we didn't want for anything. Just wish the roads weren't so darned narrow!!??!
We appreciate your review, Donna. I suspect your final comment about the roads is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But I would add that the narrow roads help create the quaintness of the old Ireland that we find so endearing. In fact, when we return each year to find road projects that are widening many of Ireland's roads, we think how Ireland is quickly changing. We're glad we have a home in Achill, where the modernization is happening much more slowly!
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