How long has it been since you tasted crab apple jelly, or do you recall the distinctive taste of gooseberry jam? Maybe your children have never tasted the delights of home made jams. If not, then it’s time to rectify this situation over the summer months at Castlecoote House. If you enjoy the delights of afternoon tea, then take your family along to the sumptuous surroundings of Castlecoote House for a tour and end off your visit with a wonderful afternoon tea in the picturesque ballroom setting. Afternoon tea is a very special experience at Castlecoote House. It features home made jams, apple jelly, home made blackcurrant jam, gooseberry jam, as well as scones and homemade apple pies. If any confirmation was ever needed that afternoon tea is a rare and wonderful experience at Castlecoote House, then it was provided in recent years by the Irish Seed Savers Association. Based in Co. Clare, the association is dedicated to the preservation of Ireland’s special and disappearing varieties of fruit, grains and vegetables. When a representative of Seed Savers visited Castlecoote House, imagine their delight when they discovered that a variety of apple, the Crofton White, previously thought to be extinct, was found to be flourishing in the confines of the original walled orchard adjacent to the house. The Crofton White was one of 35 different varieties of apple found in the orchard and it is extra special, not alone because of its rarity, but also because it was the favourite apple of Irish Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw. The Scarlet Crofton apple was also found in Castlecoote, and among the 35 different varieties found by Seed Savers were all known varieties of Crofton apples. The orchard at Castlecoote is also home to pear trees, plum trees, gooseberries and blackcurrants. All the jams are made from fruit from the orchard. So, not alone is Castlecoote House the perfect venue for a visit for the connoisseur of afternoon tea, gardening enthusiasts will also find much to delight them in the surrounds of Castlecoote House. Castlecoote House is built within the enclosure of a medieval castle and once guarded a strategic crossing of the river Suck. Enjoy a leisurely stroll in the landscaped gardens and restored medieval lookout towers; visit the ice house, the ruins of the medieval bridge and the delightful orchard. Inside you can explore the basement and tower rooms with their musket chambers, and enjoy the elegance of the Georgian lifestyle. Whatever you do, don’t forget to finish off your visit in style with afternoon tea in the ballroom. Just think, apple pie, scones and all that wonderful homemade jam! Guided tours take place Tuesday to Sunday 2 pm to 6 pm until September 30th. For further information, contact (090) 66 63794.