Mount Falcon soldiering on without Connie


Connie Aldridge, one of the grand dames of the country house hotel world, is shortly to retire having sold her renowned hostelry in Co Mayo. 91-year-old Connie was famous for her huntin' fishin' shootin' soirees at Mount Falcon near Ballina - a Victorian-Gothic house that was one of the most enjoyable Hidden Ireland country house hotels. She has accepted over £2 million for the nine-bedroom house on 100 acres with 2.4 km of fishing on the Moy. The deal was apparently brokered by one of the best rods in the auctioneering business, John Hamilton of Jackson-Stops. Happily the estate is to stay in the Aldridge family, as two of Mrs Aldridge's nephews are to take over the business, backed by a Dublin property investor. Mrs Aldridge has lived at Mount Falcon since 1932 and opened the hotel around the time of the last World War. She presided at the communal dinner table each evening and insisted on being entertained by guests who returned year after year for the fishing and the fun.

Interestingly, Mount Falcon appears in the newly released catalogue of Irish country houses published by Hamilton Osborne King. A decade ago, this brochure would have been packed with draughty castles and Georgian houses on hundreds of acres but now large modern houses feature prominently. More fishing opportunities are for sale in Co Meath where a German owner is selling the Dunmoe Mill and Fisheries on the Boyne, about three miles from Navan.

The fishery includes an eel trap - a rarity on the river these days - and a ruin of a mill. The 1.75-acre property might well be of interest to international businessman Sean Galvin, who runs a large estate on the opposite side of the river. Galway agents Spencer O'Toole are quoting £300,000. It goes to auction on July 12th, a funny date given that King James is said to have spent the night before the Battle of the Boyne in the castle, now in ruins, which adjoins the fishery.