By Charly SHELTON
Ireland welcomes visitors in any fashion. For those looking for quick and easy, there are upstairs rooms in pubs all along the island that are comfortable and simple. For those looking for a more opulent stay, there are five-star hotels like Lough Erne Resort that provide every comfort and then some. Most lodgings occupy the middle ground between these two extremes, being at once sumptuous yet humble. For those, like myself, who enjoy a bit of history with their stay, there are several different options to satisfy. One of these is Carrygerry Country House in Carrygerry, just outside of Shannon in County Clare. It fits right in the middle between extravagance and unassuming country life.
The country house was built in 1793 by James O’Halloran, a judge in the Ennis Superior Court, on land bequeathed to loyal British subjects by Oliver Cromwell during his destruction campaign in Ireland 100 years prior. Originally built at four stories, structural changes have reduced it to three stories today and it still stands as an imposing focal point on the top of a small hill with views of the surrounding countryside and the river Shannon. The house operated as a “working house,” with up to 60 men working the surrounding pasture land, until 1988 when it was converted into a hotel. What greets guests today is a piece of history, a window to a time of getaways to the country in a Georgian manor where the middle class might spend their summers.
CV Weekly was invited to visit the Carrygerry House and it was just what I needed. The bedrooms are not huge but big enough for two comfortably with a plush bed in a classic four-post frame. Though the decorations are a bit sparse in the room, the rest of the house is decorated beautifully. Overall, this house is the epitome of simple, rustic charm. And the views are incredible. The sunset over the river Shannon begs to be photographed but no camera will ever capture it completely. And the view out the conservatory window at breakfast brings a misty sunrise over the fog-draped pastures with sheep softly bleating. It really is one of the most picturesque locations I have ever seen.
The dining at Carrygerry is another reason to go. This hotel is part of Good Food Ireland, a carefully curated collection of places to stay, eat and shop for those who want to taste the best Ireland has to offer. If anywhere has the GFI seal of approval, it’s going to be a great place to eat. And Carrygerry is no exception. Guests are welcomed with cocktails in the sitting room by owner Gillian Ennis, then shown to a table in the conservatory room for a three-course dinner with options including escallops of pork fillet gently cooked in a mushroom and tarragon cream, grilled Tournafula black pudding and apple purée, or homemade egg pasta tortelloni of spinach and ricotta with a light cream sauce, or multiple-award winning specialties like their creamy seafood chowder or chicken liver pate with redcurrant jelly. Honestly, this is one of the best places to eat in Ireland. The hotel overall is a nice place to stop for an evening but the restaurant is what you’ll tell your friends about.
I enjoyed the seafood chowder and a perfectly grilled peppercorn steak, which came from a local butcher, and a plate of local cheeses. My wife had the oven baked filo tartlet of Bluebell Falls goat cheese with house-made red onion marmalade and leaf salad, a baked fillet of hake with herb and lemon crust, herb mash and white wine sauce, and the Toblerone cheesecake. And all of this came with a side of veggies and, of course, potatoes. It was just incredible and when we were finished we went off to the room full and tired.
Overall, the Carrygerry Country House is a very cute stop-off on the road around Ireland with views that can’t be beat and a restaurant that you will remember for the rest of your life. For more information on Carrygerry, visit CarrygerryHouse.com and to see the other Good Food Ireland recommendations, visit GoodFoodIreland.ie.