Friendly Place. Friendly Faces
Ringo, Reilly, and Rudy will more than likely catch your eye during a visit to Kilkenny’s spectacular Lyrath Estate Hotel. The hotel’s three Golden Retrievers pose in many hotel publicity shots and indeed you’ll see them in guest wedding pics as well. But popular and all as the threesome are, it is the humans around here that you’ll rely on and, as we found out during a recent stay, they too are very friendly indeed.
Just one example. As we walked into the magnificent Yew Tree room for breakfast, we got the biggest smile and a lovely warm greeting from the lady on duty. It is not very unusual in Ireland but we were particularly delighted with it, as a week earlier, we got an unsmiling silent greeting (hardly a greeting at all) from a corresponding person in a Wexford hotel.
|Front of the "old" house|
Our initial greeting on arrival at Lyrath the previous day was warm as well and we got all the info we needed. Soon we were passing their very impressive Christmas decorations, all on a grand scale under the high ceiling, and heading off to our executive room. The 137 rooms are generally off from the central part of the hotel, itself based on the original mansion.
There are a number of room categories and Executive rooms offer more space for guests to enjoy and come with a king size bed. They include an entrance hallway, a walk-in wardrobe/dressing area and large bathroom with double basins, bath and separate walk in shower. Our room overlooked the estate. We certainly had all we needed with a separate toilet in the bathroom, TV of course and the WifI was perfect as well.
|Head Chef: Kenneth Murphy|
Lyrath has just appointed Kenneth Murphy as Head Chef. The much travelled Carlowman has a wealth of experience, worked extensively with the Virgin Limited Edition Group and, more recently, was also Executive Head Chef at Fota Island Resort.
No doubt he’ll be putting his own stamp on the menus here in due course. There are two main dining rooms, the Yew Tree (open only on Fridays and Saturdays at present) and the very comfortable Grill and Bar, situated on the mezzanine over the entrance foyer.
We were there in midweek and our reservation was at the Grill. First we called to the bar there and again had a lovely chat with a young barman. He filled us in on what was available when we requested Gin and Tonic and we were glad to hear they had Dingle Gin. So we enjoyed those before strolling across the floor to the restaurant.
|Twilight at Lyrath|
Like the rest of the hotel, comfort and space are the main features. Soon we were seated in a lovely booth with the menus at hand and making our choices.
Also had a good look at the wine list, quite a quality one, and CL settled on a glass of their Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner (11.50), fruity (citrus, apple) but with excellent acidity and well able to handle the food. I was glad to see they had quite a selection of the local O’Hara’s beers in bottle and even more so when I found out the Yellow Belly Citra Ale (6.00) was available on draught. “A pint, please,” I beamed.
Soon we were enjoying our starters. Mine was Smoked Salmon with beetroot purée, cucumber, fennel and cress salad. CL’s was Beetroot Tartarin, the classic combination of goats cheese, beetroot (spiced in this version), pine nuts and horseradish. We enjoyed those two.
Grilled Atlantic Salmon was CL’s choice for the mains and that came with grilled asparagus spears and béarnaise and got the thumbs up. Mine was Slow-braised Hereford Beef cheek, quite a large portion, served with shallot purée, carrots and creamy mash. It was top notch, enhanced by a side of Steak chips, heartily recommended by our server!
|Santa in the lobby|
Dessert choices made us think before I plunged for my first slice of Christmas pudding of the season. It came with Brandy Anglaise and vanilla ice-cream. Pas Mal!
The main bar, Tupper's, is on the ground floor and has a club like atmosphere in its two rooms with an adjoining much brighter conservatory which overlooks Lady Charlotte Wheeler-Cuffe’s Victorian garden (now restored). More beer for me, a lovely glass of draught ale, this time by O’Hara’s, sipped in front of the open fire.
The breakfast in the spacious Yew Tree, with its views over the old garden, was excellent. Great buffet choices, juices, cereals, fruits, cheese, ham, and more.
And the kitchen was in top form too and the stack of Hugh’s Pancakes with fresh blueberries and maple syrup, along with my server's suggestion of bacon, went down a treat. My starter here was a granola-topped pot of yogurt. All good, as Christmas music played gently in the background.
With the weather turning nasty we were’t able to take advantage of the walks around the 170 acre estate, one marked 2.5km, another 5.km.
At other times of the year, you’ll have, among other things, falconry and archery available. And of course they have a spa and leisure centre (with 17 metre pool). And there is also a Conference Centre here.
All within a couple of kilometres of the heart of medieval Kilkenny. You could spend well more than a day here and that is what I’d heartily recommend. And say hello to the dogs for me!