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“Would not recommend”

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The Harbour Masters House
Ranked #5 of 14 Birr B&B and Inns
Reviewed May 26, 2010

Harbour Masters was quite a disappointment for us. Though the home itself was beautifully decorated and quite lovely, I honestly would not recommend it. We stayed for 3 days and during that time they ran out of heating oil. As it was unseasonably cold due to the ash cloud (in the 30's at night), this was a real problem. The hot water heater also broke and we were forced to endure ice cold showers. The woman who ran the place didn't bother to tell us of either problem until she saw us loading our luggage into the car the night before we left. This was fairly typical. She seemed inconvenienced by our presence and lacked the friendliness we'd grown accustomed to at other b&b's. She offered no advice on the surrounding areas, which was a shame since there really wasn't much to do nearby without driving to Birr or Banagher. The restaurants within walking distance were only opened Thursday-Sunday, so if you're there midweek you're out of luck. If you do decide to stay, the rooms are quiet and the beds are comfortable. It is a good base for visiting Clonmacnoise and Birr Castle (both were a 20 minute drive). The house is hard to find, bring a GPS and plug in latitude/longitude coordinates otherwise you will get lost. Wireless Internet is available, but only downstairs in the lounge. The signal was weak and dropped frequently. The rooms had TV and en-suite coffee/tea making facilities, though I would recommend cleaning the later before use. Ours was caked with what I'm guessing were either minerals from the hard water or mildew of some sort. They accept B&B vouchers, but she insists on having the numbers upfront when you make your reservation and she collects them on arrival.

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank irishcolleen78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
lucybyrne, Owner at The Harbour Masters House, responded to this reviewResponded May 29, 2010

Dear Sir/ Madam,
I wish to respond to the review titled Would not Recommend.
The guests stayed 2 nights not 3 as stated in the report.
We ran out of oil on the evening of May 13th at 6.30 p.m. due to high usage.Oil was delivered at 7.15 and the plumber canceled a meeting to be at theHarbour Masters to bleed the system and restart the heat by 7.30pm.Heat and hot water was available shortly afterwards1 hour 30.minutes after the oil ran out. The water heater was not broken as stated, no oil no hot water.
The accommodation was full that night and most guests were out to dinner. I did know there was a couple in room 5 but as they may have been resting I did not want to disturb them.When they came out to the car I explained the situation and told them it was been taken care of.They did not complain and seemed quiet pleasant.
Regarding Guest information. Each room has a very detailed Guest information folder which gives all information regarding pubs, restaurants, menus,, places to visit and maps.
Regarding pub food in the village. Food is served from Thursday to Sunday in LOW season.
Food is available all week in Banagher town which is 3 miles from Shannon Harbour.
Internet is available in the lounge with perfect access when you use the code provided in the guest information folder and in the Lounge.
Every Kettle in Ireland has a very slight amount of lime in the water, perfectly harmless.
Finally most B and B owners request credit card details to secure a reservation. I only ask for voucher numbers or mobile numbers to avoid fraud. Voucher numbers are really of no use to me because if guests do not show up I suffer the loss.If one read the information on the voucher pack they will know the are asked to present vouchers to the B & B on arrival.
I would be most grateful for a response.
Yours sincerely,
Grainne Kirwan.

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Reviews (62)
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51 - 57 of 62 reviews

Reviewed October 14, 2009

If you love boats, canals and historic houses then this is the place for you. If you like excellent service, good breakfasts and immaculate yet lived in settings then this is also for you. An 1806 purpose built harbour master's home owned and operated by the last Master's daughter and family. A wonderfull place with lots of history at your doorstep and quaint villages nearby with ancient attractions and some of the best food on our trip. Clean, modern bedrooms, ensuite bath and lovely garden. I would stay there again without hesitation. Long walks on the Union Canal tow paths and a local pub are extras.

Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
1  Thank fishingdavep
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 2, 2009

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. Definitely stood out among the B&B's we stayed at. The owner was friendly, helpful and delightful to talk with. We would return there and spend more time exploring the countryside.

Stayed: August 2009, traveled as a couple
Thank ropepr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 24, 2009

This is my second visit here. Hospitality is first class, as is the food and the accommodations. There is wonderfully fast internet access, they accept all major credit cards. The absence of laundry facility is temporary and not the fault of the establishment. The promised set up of the laundry access has been delayed due to no fault of the proprietors. This B&B is consistantly of the highest quality. I travel to at least 5 countries for work annually and stay in many locations. This is truly one of the best and always a fine experience.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled on business
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Thank HorsemanColorado1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2009

Undeniably, the facility was quite charming and comfortable. That said, there were 2 needlessly unpleasant surprises. First, the proprietor accepted cash only . We learned this upon arrival late in the evening of a weekend, so this complicated coming up with the cash and we had to make a trip to a neighboring town to find an ATM. This is not how we would have otherwise spent the time. Second, there was no operating laundry facility, even though this had been advertised as a feature. This was a problem for us because we scheduled our visit to this site at the halfway point of our trip with the idea of doing our laundry. Because it was a weekend we had no other local alternative.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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Thank DiasporaOhio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2008

My husband and I stayed at the Harbour Master’s House on our trip through central Ireland and loved it. The hostess, Grainne Kirwin, is the daughter of the last Harbour Master in Shannon Harbour, a small village of less than 30 people. She couldn’t be more friendly or helpful. In my experience, the best meal in Ireland is always the breakfast and her breakfast was no exception. Every day was something new and delicious. While European hotel and B&B rooms are typically smaller than their American equivalents, the space was well organized and thoughtful. The views of the canal were lovely and the location was excellent for touring central Ireland or for traveling from Dublin to the west coast. Given the opportunity, we would gladly stay there again.

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Dogcamp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 3, 2008

My mother and I stayed at the Harbour Masters House in September of 2007 and were sorry to be there for only one night. The photo we saw had appealed to us and the reality was every bit as good as the photo. Shannon Harbour itself is a very quiet little place on the Grand Canal, with the Harbour Masters House overlooking the canal itself. Our room was delightful, with one window on the front of the house overlooking the canal below and the other window looking out at the garden behind the house. Grainne told us about several alternatives for dinner, one being the local pub which is only a short walk from the B&B. The full Irish breakfast served next morning was delicious, an excellent start to our day. The location is central, with Clonmacnoise a few miles away. If I am able to travel to Ireland again, I would love to once again stay at The Harbour Masters House -- and would highly recommend it to anyone.

Stayed: September 2007
4  Thank Lorief
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Harbour Masters House

Address: Shannon Harbour, Birr, Ireland
Location: Ireland > Province of Leinster > County Offaly > Birr
Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly)
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 14 B&Bs / Inns in Birr
Price Range: $75 - $116 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — The Harbour Masters House 3*
Number of rooms: 5
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