Staycations Ireland – winter ready in County Down

NEW guesthouse owners Diane and Daryl Cotton have a busy winter in store for their recently acquired nine-room Briers Country House near Newcastle at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.

The Briers Country House in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains Ireland is an inviting and restful place to stay

Well known to ramblers, hikers and water enthusiasts, the Game of Thrones fandom will appreciate the circa 18th Century two-storey original cottage and extensions for its proximity to Tollymore Forest Park where scenes from the blockbuster fantasy series includes tours to iconic locations. Guided and independent trips within the Park include a visit to where the dire wolf pups were found along with a journey to north of The Wall.

The Snug at The Briers Country House Northern Ireland, a great place to spend a relaxing evening after touring the stunning Mourne Mountains by day

While winter is coming, the husband-and-wife pair are offering their welcoming hospitality while in between guest visits continue to make further progress in a series of renovations, already begun in ground floor ensuite rooms. The guesthouse in mature gardens is a haven for breaks away from everyday life, or for active leisure lifestyles on land and sea.

“Our plan at the moment is to be open all year round,” said Diane Cotton when she spoke with at The Briers. “Judging from what we have seen it is solid (guest booking) so it makes sense for now to be open.”

One of the recently renovated ensuite rooms in the c18th century Briers Country House

For foodie fans the country house is near the Maghera Inn, a centuries-old stopping point presently serving traditional Irish pub food with a twist in main courses and local brews. The Yard Restaurant at Hillyard House in Castlewellan, the home of Ireland’s oldest biannual market fairs offers bistro-style menus in contemporary surroundings.

“People seem to want to come here when it’s dark and cold, and lots of snow on the mountains and a walk in Tollymore (Forest Park) in autumn is beautiful,” said Daryl Cotton. “We are about keeping our guests happy.”

Take the Game of Thrones tour while staying at The Briers Country House in nearby Tollymore Park and see first hand where the dire wolf pups were found. Image credit: Tollymore Forest Park

Guests of The Briers will be happy with breakfast each morning while overlooking the mature gardens with much on offer from the Full Irish to whole grain foods, fresh fruit and juices and allergy-conscious options.

The Maghera Inn, a great place for traditonal Irish food near The Briers Country House Northern Ireland. Image credit: The Maghera Inn

The comfortable surroundings offered in the Country House make it a great base for outdoor activities – even when there is “lots of snow on the mountains” or shopping in Newcastle, historic Castlewellan or nearby Belfast City itself. Book online at

The Yard Restaurant at Hillyard House Hotel in Castlewellan Northern Ireland, a great place for bistro-style food


Tags: The Briers Country House #thebriers #visitnorthernireland

Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey is’s Ireland Correspondent. She holds an honours undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Adult Education Creative Writing Studies. Through a media career spanning nearly 25 years Kim has written and photographed regional news, national and international horse sports, fashion and lifestyle. Kim lives with her husband and son in Kildare Ireland, and a stray marmalade cat who has adopted the family.

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