A win­ning

Siobhán English

Irish Independent - Farming - - ANALYSIS -

THE Mol­loy fam­ily ran a tra­di­tional farm near Holy­cross in Tip­per­ary for gen­er­a­tions, but you won’t find cat­tle and sheep graz­ing there any more.

In­stead, Crossogue House and its sur­round­ing 200 acres have been turned into a thriv­ing eques­trian hol­i­day busi­ness that at­tracts guests from all over the globe.

It was over 25 years ago when Mark Mol­loy took over the home­stead and de­cided that a change was needed in order to make a de­cent liv­ing.

“This farm orig­i­nally started out in dairy and my fa­ther found it very tough at times, so he later switched to beef and sheep,” he says.

“When I re­turned to take over the farm in the early 1990s I felt I needed to di­ver­sify and move away from the old tra­di­tion.”

With elder brother John run­ning a lux­ury fra­grance brand, Memo Fra­grances, in Paris and their four sis­ters all busy in their own ca­reers, only Mark took an in­ter­est in tak­ing over Crossogue as a project. It was there­fore up to him to find some­thing new that would see him through his life­time.

“I was never drawn to a life in farm­ing,” he ex­plains. “Dad al­ways had horses here too and I had a great in­ter­est in them grow­ing up. We had thor­ough­breds and I loved that side of it, so I liked the idea of bring­ing in sport horses as well and turn­ing it into a venue for rid­ing hol­i­days spe­cial­is­ing in cross-coun­try and show jump­ing.

“It made sense when we had the space and per­fect lo­ca­tion.”

Crossogue sells it­self as a home away from home. Guests of all ages live in with their hosts, get to ride horses across the most pic­turesque ter­rain, and lend a help­ing hand around the yard when­ever needed, while at the same time en­joy­ing all that there is to love about the Ir­ish coun­try­side.

“We do not sell Crossogue as a large Ge­or­gian coun­try house in case our guests are dis­ap­pointed,” says Mark, the fifth gen­er­a­tion of the fam­ily to live here, yet vis­i­tors will in­evitably be over­whelmed by its charm.

Pub­lic­ity is also some­thing that the Mol­loys have rarely sought since they started out a quar­ter of a cen­tury ago. Mod­est about their ap­peal, they pre­fer to let the vis­i­tors do the talk­ing.

Just take a glance at Tripad­vi­sor and the stream of five-star re­views will be enough to reel you in.

When Mark sold off the cat­tle and sheep, he bought in some new thor­ough­breds to add to those al­ready owned by his fa­ther. Us­ing the best stal­lions, they have bred some good race­horses over the years.

The Game Changer, Mor­gan and Johns Spirit all hail from the same fam­ily and their dam Gilt Rid­den is among a nice band of brood­mares still breed­ing on the farm.

Mark has held a trainer’s li­cence for some 14 years and sells some home-breds off the track, while oth­ers are sold on as foals.

“It’s an­other side­line to what we do here and I thor­oughly en­joy it,” he says.

To­day Crossogue caters for guests from as far afield as China and the US, and all have a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the rac­ing side of the busi­ness when­ever time al­lows.

Many keen eques­tri­ans liv­ing closer to home also pay a visit here dur­ing the sum­mer months.

The sea­son runs from May to Oc­to­ber, and book­ings are al­ready fill­ing up fast for the res­i­den­tial hol­i­days.

Hav­ing a house-full of guests is noth­ing new to Mark, who spent much of his child­hood surrounded by vis­i­tors at the fam­ily home.

“The house was al­ways full of peo­ple when we were grow­ing up so I was well used to a busy liv­ing room,” he ex­plains.

It is this re­laxed at­mos­phere that draws over­seas vis­i­tors who want to ex­pe­ri­ence au­then­tic coun­try life.

“We can cater for up to seven guests at a time and they all stay

‘THE HOUSE WAS AL­WAYS FULL OF PEO­PLE WHEN WE WERE GROW­ING UP SO I WAS WELL USED TO A BUSY LIV­ING ROOM’

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