At Waterford, famed for its hand-cut crystal, antiques and collectibles are an attraction at Blenheim House, set on four wooded acres beside the River Suir estuary. Built in 1763, Blenheim is the home of Claire and Greg Fitzmaurice, who bought the house nine years ago and filled it with their own Waterford crystal, china and objets d'art.
Although its six bedrooms have modern, private bath facilities, Blenheim retains its Old World charm and stately ambience. A walk on the grounds is a celebration of palms, roses and trees as old as the house.
Because no visit to Ireland is complete without a day or two in Dublin, consider Anglesea Townhouse, a 1903 Edwardian-style B&B in the residential Ballsbridge section of the city, within walking distance of the U.S. Embassy and the Royal Dublin Society Showgrounds.
Owned by Sean and Helen Kirrane, this house is equipped with modern conveniences, from an enclosed sun deck to central heating. Each of the seven bedrooms has a private bath, direct-dial telephone and television.
Anglesea is furnished with comfort in mind--rocking chairs and settees and lots of flowering plants.
The lady of the house greets each arriving guest with a cup of tea and homemade cake. She also rises every day at 6 a.m. to bake bread and prepare gourmet breakfasts of fresh-squeezed juice, eggs, fish, baked fruit and an exotic version of warm cereal with whole meal, nuts, raisins and kiwi fruit. All of this is served on fine china, crisp Irish linens and the family silver.
Other Irish B&Bs offer a variety of attractions, from organic cuisine to private golf courses and fishing lakes.
Whether a house is big or small, antique or contemporary, cottage or castle, the B&Bs of Ireland have one thing in common--a tradition of genuine hospitality for visitors. The Irish aptly call it cead mile failte-- 100,000 welcomes.
Rates below are based on bed and breakfast charges per person, per night.
--Nancy Fitzgerald, Ashton Grove, Knockraha, County Cork. Four bedrooms, open April through October, $14 U.S.
--Vera and Theo Young, Horetown House, Foulksmills, County Wexford, 12 bedrooms. Open except mid-January to early March, $17.
--Sean and Elizabeth O'Driscoll. Castle Matrix, Rathkeale, County Limerick. Six bedrooms with private bath/shower; three with saunas. Open June 15 to Aug. 15, $52.
--William and Hannah Boland, Muxnaw Lodge, Castletownbere Road, Kenmare, County Kerry. Five bedrooms, three with private bath. Open year-round, $15.
--Claire and Greg Fitzmaurice, Blenheim House, Blenheim Heights, off the Passage East Road, Waterford, County Waterford. Six bedrooms with private bath/shower. Open year-round, $19.
--Helen and Sean Kirrane, Anglesea Town House, 63 Anglesea Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Seven bedrooms with private bath. Open year-round, $28.
For a booklet describing all of Ireland's registered farmhouses and town and country homes with current prices, contact the Irish Tourist Board, 757 3rd Ave., 19th Floor, New York 10017, (212) 418-0800.