Exploring Self-Catering in Ireland with Decoy Country Cottages

Whether you’re based in the UK, Ireland or further afield, SuperControl is here to help your self-catering business to thrive. We’re delighted that our widespread reach allows us to share stories from across the self-catering spectrum and that these tales support our community and its desire to learn and develop.

Paula Irwin has been a SuperControl member since 2009 and is the proud owner of Decoy Country Cottages situated in Boyne Valley, Ireland. As a long-standing member of our community and a self-caterer operating outside of the UK, Paula has many interesting insights to share, not least how she juggles working as a dentist alongside running her self-catering business. We recently heard from Paula who told us all about her properties and time living and working in Ireland.

“While I now live 30 miles outside of Dublin, I’m originally from Wales. It wasn’t until my Irish husband longed for home that we packed up our bags, three small children and waved goodbye to life in the UK. It just so happens that the house we moved into also offered a dilapidated farmyard that had bags of potential. Before long, I was seeking planning permission for what would become eight holiday cottages and after four years, my vision had come to life.

“I suppose my self-catering journey is untraditional in some ways. My husband and I are dentists by trade, and alongside Decoy Country Cottages, we run a five surgery dental practice. There’s no denying it’s been a tricky balance, especially when my children were young. I feel thankful that I’ve been able to blend two of my passions. SuperControl most definitely saves me time on the self-catering side, meaning I have peace of mind that everything is running as it should be.

“Reflecting on my time as a self-caterer in Ireland, there is definitely some differentiating factors around how we work compared to the UK. Our industry operates quite differently due to our laws, and there are two different ways of running self-catering accommodation. There’s a host of requirements needed to trade as a self-catering business, including having over eight properties in the same location; this is known as ‘registered group scheme’. This runs in parallel with a different system for those with fewer properties. From a guest’s perspective, this doesn’t make a difference. It would make a lot more sense to unify the legislation, allowing the self-catering sector in Ireland to harmonise.

“The Irish self-catering space certainly has its intricacies. Still, we’re a lot less regulated than in the UK, meaning it’s easier to make quick and positive decisions for your business. I was formerly a treasurer and executive council member of Ireland’s self-catering trade association, ISCF. I’m no longer on the board, but I’m still a member and wouldn’t be without them; our voice is much stronger as one.

“The ISCF is the sole representative and lobbying body for owners of self-catering properties in Ireland. We support our members by raising key issues such as rent pressure zones and ensuring our collective voice is heard and actioned. Working alongside experienced and passionate self-caterers such as Paula is what it’s all about; their views and challenges are what feeds our desire for positive and long-lasting change. We come up against different hurdles to our friends in the UK market, but the ISCF is here to champion an ever-developing and successful self-catering space in Ireland.”

Máire Ní Mhurchú, Chair, Irish Self Catering Federation (ISCF)

“On the topic of being stronger as one, I’ve been a fond member of the SuperControl community for 12 years, and I’ve never looked back. I deliberated over signing up to the system for some time, but when I finally made the leap to join SuperControl, it was the best thing I ever did. Putting all of my information in one place and seamlessly integrating it with other platforms and tools has been an absolute game-changer. As somebody who runs two very different and demanding businesses, it’s saved me endless amounts of valuable time.

“Over the years, I’ve seen many changes within SuperControl, but they’ve always been welcomed additions. The introduction of integrations such as Beyond Pricing has completely changed my business for the better. Aside from SuperControl’s functionality, I thoroughly enjoy being a part of its community. The Facebook forum is a fantastic platform for support, and the regular webinars are very beneficial.

“When exploring what’s next for me and Decoy Country Cottages, I’m looking forward to winding down in the future, and SuperControl will certainly help to make that happen. I hope to see continual change and improvement in Ireland’s self-catering sector; as a member of ISCF, I’ll always be waving a firm flag for our industry.”