Ballymoney Guest Houses were at their peak in the 1950’s and 60’s and into 70’s but were there long before that.
Seafield Guest House
Of the three main ones, Seafield House was probably the biggest and best well known. Built in circa 1886, it was first occupied by the Doyne family. Major Pratt bought the property and occupied it until he sold it in 1941. It was purchased by the Grace family and run as a Guest House by Mrs Grace.
Standing exactly where the fashionable hotel of same name is situated today, with its own farm, orchard and vegetable garden, it sported a lawn tennis court, overlooked by the grand drawing and dining rooms. Seafield boasted 18 guest bedrooms and was renowned for cuisine of remarkable standards. A large amount of the fruit and vegetables came from the garden and orchard, which were meticulously cared for by Mrs Grace’s brother Tom (Redmond). Guests returned year after year.
Duffcarric Guest House
A little further along the Ballymoney to Courtown road was Duffcarric House, where Camphill community have their main Ballymoney residence today. The first recorded owner of Duffcarric House was a Mr Woodsworth, while the Guest House was later run by The Harvey family. The Harvey family had previously lived in the large white house opposite the shop in Ballymoney, then a sub-post office of Gorey. Mr Arthur Harvey was ex British army. Just like Seafield, Duffcarric House had its own farm and gardens which supplied much of the fresh vegetables for the kitchens. Again, the same patrons appear to have returned year after year.
Kildermot Farm Guest House
Of the three main Guest Houses, Kildermot Farm Guest House was actually the first to take in paying guests, all the way back during the First World War, then run by Mrs Abeygail Mowatt. Alan and Mabel Mowatt took over the running of the Guest in the late 1930’s for a full thirty odd years, until the late 1960’s. The house had 12 bedrooms and again was a most popular destination for Summer vacation, many patrons returning year after year, generally booking their following year’s holiday before leaving each year. Renowned for it’s fantastic food, it had a tennis court and importantly, for the city children, it was a working farm, where they could get close to the animals, see the cows being milked, the horses in the fields and the pigs and fowl at close range. Guests would walk through the fields to Ballymoney beach.
Alan and Mabel sold Kildermot House in the late 1960’s but continued to keep guests in St Brigid’s House in Ballymoney Village (now Moss cottage) until Mabel sadly passed away in 1993. Alan kept a meticulous vegetable garden on the opposite side of the road.
One of the fields on the farm was known as “The Seafield”, now called Sandycove. Robert Mowatt now resides there, having spent many years living in the UK. The local community wish to welcome Robert back to the old sod and wish him many happy years of retirement in his beloved Kildermot.
There were other houses in the area offering guest accommodation on a smaller scale, Smith’s at Tara Hill House, Clince’s at the end of the Sea Road and Rose Cottage halfway down, O’Brien’s offered accommodation in the village.
All of the Guest Houses offered welcome seasonal employment to many of the local residents, men and women alike, working in the kitchens and on the farms. Many of the local teenage girls spent a large part of their Summer holidays working in the Guest Houses, saving up their money to help their parents with the costs of returning to school in September.