Showing posts with label Kerry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kerry. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom


A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom
The view from Bray Head walk

With the best of lodgings booked, her majesty and myself headed off to the Kingdom of Kerry one sunny morning in July. The natives were friendly and we were well watered and fed in the triangle between Killarney, Valentia and Dingle.

After a superb lunch at the well-appointed and newly established Kingdom 1795 in Killorglin , we drove on south-west to the Island of Valentia. The plan was to take the spectacular walk on Bray Head. So we paid our two euro (no royal exceptions, apparently) in the car park and headed up.
On Valentia

Old Barracks, Cahersiveen
And up, and up. All the time, the views (including the Skelligs) kept improving as we, and quite a few others, took the path towards the top. We came back the same way we went up, didn't do the full loop. On the way down, just managed to stop a doctor (the fly) from biting my arm. Haven't see one of those in years.

Back on the road and next stop was the nearby town of Cahersiveen. Had a little walk around here, taking in the massive church of Daniel O’Connell (The Liberator), the impressively restored Old Barracks (must do a detailed visit next time) and the monks in a boat sculpture on the way out of town. No plaque on that sculpture and I’m not certain if it is to do with monks rowing out to the Skelligs or St Brendan and company heading to America. Anyone enlighten me?
Glenbeigh Hotel

By the time we reached Glenbeigh we were rather thirsty so called into the small Glenbeigh Hotel for a reviving drink in the dark and old-fashioned but popular bar.

Time was running out so we headed to base for the night. And what a base the Hotel Europe proved to be. Amazing space and comfort here. But we were soon on the road again, heading for a 7.00pm dinner in Malarkey’s the new stomping ground in Killarney of expert chef Seamus O'Connell (ex Ivory Tower).

Back to base, well back to the Europe’s exceptionally comfortable bar, its friendly staff and its drinks list as long as your arm. Thought I’d treat myself to a cocktail and the Brandy Alexander fitted the bill after the multi-course meal in Malarkey’s.

The hotel is huge, 180 rooms, and we saw many of the guests at breakfast in the amazing Panorama restaurant the following morning, panorama because it boasts great views of the beautiful lakes. Must be hard to cater for that many people. The Europe uses the buffet method to good effect. Good but, unlike the rest of the operation, hardly five-star.
Chocs in Crinkle Store, Dingle

Still, we were fed, and fit enough for the second leg of the progress. Off we went to Slea Head, a popular spot for us and for many many more. July may not be the best time to drive that narrow road, especially if you have Italy’s slowest driver in front of you! Thought they were all super fast. So much for stereotypes!

After that trip it was back to Dingle for lunch at the packed Boatyard on the waterfront. Not bad at all but I thought my crab claws were excessively expensive, almost 17 euro for six with a little salad, chorizo and garlic butter. A fairly basic dish by comparison with what I got in the excellent Pier 26 in Ballycotton a week before: at least 10 claws, superbly prepared and presented, for just €12.00. 
Slea Head

High Notes. Dingle
After a look at the weekly market - it was closing up at that stage - and  a little shopping around town, we headed back. We could see Inch Strand ahead, lots of activity there, so we stopped and enjoyed a good stroll, taking in all the activity on the water, on the sand, and even in the air (kite-flying). Amazing the amount of cars and vans and campers that were parked on the beach. But where else could they park?

No big rush to turn around quickly at the Europe this time. They have an fantastic display of flowering shrubs here, all the way on through the drive and then all around the various sections of the car park. Top class.
Inch Beach
Brandy cocktail Europe

Our dinner that evening was in Nick’s in Killorglin… I’m saying “nothing at all”. Back in the marvellous hotel, we had a wander through the fantastic lounge areas, areas (including the library) that are well used, before ending up with our friends in the bar. Drinks this time included a Negroni (I do rather like that cocktail), some local beers from Killarney Brewing Company and that non alcoholic cider by Cronin’s (another Kerry company).

All good things come to an end and the following morning we had to settle up but thanks to the children’s generous present (for our recent 50th) we didn’t have to dig too deep at all!

How about this? On the way back, we were in traffic on the bridge in Macroom - not as bad as it can be - when we saw a heron standing on the parapet, calmly watching the cars go by!

Also on this trip: Malarkey in Killarney
Kingdom 1795 Killorglin

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Tasting Malarkey's at Rebel O'Connell's New Kingdom Base

Tasting Malarkey's at Rebel O'Connell's New Kingdom Base. 

Amazingly substantial 6th course of Tasting menu; amazingly delicious too!

It’s hot in the kitchen at Malarkey, the Killarney restaurant just opened by chef-patron Seamus O’Connell, best known for his years of good food, fun and frustration in Cork’s Ivory Tower. 

Pilsner from 9 White Deer
Service is in full swing. Probably just as well the restaurant, with its eye-catching decor both upstairs and downstairs, is not packed. The staff are extra busy though because they are also showing their new beer garden to the trade in Killarney and serving boxty and bubbles to their many guests.

After a superb meal, I take up an invite from one of the staff to have a look out back and am surprised at the overall size of the premises that Seamus has taken on and at how much work has already been done here.

Before I go, I get a chance to saw hello and have a brief word with the man himself. And he tells me that his biggest problem in these early months is the lack of staff, especially chefs. Seamus himself just has to work harder but there is no sign of the kitchen pressure on the plates. We have just enjoyed a superb 7-course Tasting Menu.

Choices are amazing here. Our Tasting Menu (Tasting Malarkey) is €50.00 each and he has a different Tasting Menu (Fusion De Luxe) priced at €70.00. There is a set menu (with lots of choice) for what seems good value at €30.00. And if you really want choice, just take a look at the A La Carte where you’ll have to allow extra time to make decisions; there are no less than 19 starters listed, including four of boxty.

Wild Salmon cured with Alder smoked salt in herbs


Wood pigeon, with beetroot

The finalé at Killarney's Malarkey. Toffee Apple crumble with smoked treacle ice-cream.
Nettle and Knotweed Soup (duck and orange centrepiece)
Crubeens with smoky onion poitín
Halibut with lobster sauce. And it is, but there’s some delicious bits of bacon and cabbage as well.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Randles Killarney. A Splendid and Friendly Stop on the Ring of Kerry.


Randles Killarney. A Relaxing 
and Friendly Stop on the Ring of Kerry.

Killarney, as you all know, is a busy spot and Randles Hotel on the Muckross Road, itself part of the famed Ring of Kerry, is one of the popular venues in the area. The Randles have been welcoming guests since 1906. 

Ready for your morning juice?
As we arrived last week, we found a champagne reception for a French touring group in progress on the terrace. The space is high above the road and looks out at the mountains which were a splendid sight in the May sunshine.

But it’s not just touring coaches that the hotel caters for. Manager Tom Randles told me that golfers are a major factor in the hotel’s business. He pointed to the location, a central location that can allow the dedicated golfer play at a string of top quality courses over the course of a few days. These include Killarney, Beaufort, Tralee, Ring of Kerry, Dooks, Ballybunion, Waterville, even the Old Head of Kinsale, all within two hours. And if you need to go further, or faster, Randles will arrange a helicopter.
Dessert in the Lounge

Walking, Hiking, Climbing, Biking & Horseriding – Make your own way or join one of the many guided experiences. But not all of us will want to be that active during a break. And here the hotel is very well placed indeed for more leisurely sightseeing with the National Park (including Torc Waterfall) and both Muckross House and Killarney House a few minutes walk away. And the racecourse is easily reached by car.
A spacious and well-equipped junior suite

And even more relaxing possibilities in the hotel itself where leisure facilities include spa treatments where guests can unwind with an extensive range of holistic, non-clinical treatments and massages available.  The Leisure Club offers you the chance to enjoy an invigorating dip in the 20m indoor pool or relax in the steam room or sauna.

Our host Tom was talking to us in the renovated lounge where we were having an evening meal. The bedrooms have also had a makeover in recent times. Tom says there’s more to be done but he’s finding it hard enough to get tradesmen. He thinks they have all gone to Cork! 
Comfy corner in the Lounge

In any event, he has quite a team of employees in the hotel here. Service was excellent from start to finish, here in the lounge, at breakfast in the morning and at the reception desk both coming and going.

That lounge, which essentially encompasses a bar and two tidy spaces, one dedicated to eating, the other to just sitting down and relaxing with cup or glass perhaps. Both are superbly fitted out and once you get to sit in one of those comfortable chairs, you won’t be in any hurry to get up. 

The hotel also has two larger restaurants but the lounge is more informal, the menu including everything from soup to nibbles (eg hummus on pitta bread) to pizza to sharing boards to salads to grill (28 day dry aged Angus fillet). 
The pool

We sampled a few dishes here including olives, Mexican Chips, a grilled chicken salad and an impressive Wagyu Burger (the beef raised locally by Jim Good). Drank some lovely wine too, most of it available by the glass, the 250 cl measure or bottle.

The high standard of food continued at breakfast which is served in The Court with its spectacular ceiling. Right along side is Checkers Restaurant with its distinctive black and white floor tiles and a classic mural all along one wall. There were quite a few at breakfast, probably a tour group included, but it made no difference. The food and the service were excellent and there was no delay at all. Practice makes perfect!
Ready to go in Checkers

The Drawing Room is there for the guests to enjoy. Sink into the comfortable sofa with a book or complimentary newspaper while the fire blazes away. Or enjoy the views to the Kerry mountains while just soaking up the atmosphere of this room filled with antiques and comfortable sofas, harking back to the days when the original house was a splendid family home. And it is here also that you can enjoy their lovely Afternoon Tea experience.

Weddings are also well catered for in Randles and General Manager Tom will personally oversee your big day ensuring that you are pampered, taken care of and spoilt as your new life journey begins. Here, the big day can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish, from a small simple private affair to taking over the whole hotel and its close to 80 rooms.
French Toast in the morning

Our own bedroom was rather splendid also, with a excellent view out towards those mountains. This Junior Suite was perfect and that luxury bed meant a great night’s sleep. They are ideal for getting work done on your laptop and tablet, and with WIFI available throughout the hotel, you will be able to catch up with family and friends through social media and email. Widescreen TV, tea-making plus Espresso machine, bathrobes, toiletries, everything you’d need. And if you have a particular request, then there’s a 24 hour room service available. And, by the way, there is a security clasp inside your door so you can check who's knocking!
Randles has quite a depth to it, that you don't notice from the front.

The family also own the adjacent Dromhall and indeed some of the facilities are shared between the two. We had strolled over the few yards to the Dromhall to enjoy a drink in the more informal Kayne’s Bar (there’s a popular bistro upstairs). Sipped a local ale here (it is produced across the road by Killarney Brewing Company, another possible visit for you!) and we could see straight away the importance of golf in this area. There was an international tournament on the screen (no sound, of course) and a few golfers checking the play while enjoying a plate of food at the bar.
Wake up to this in Randles!

Soon we were on our way, up the shortcut steps, past the champagne reception and about to make a real start to our very enjoyable short break in Randles.

Car-parking is not a problem here. There is limited room at the level of the hotel and the includes set-down. But there is a spacious underground car park as you drive in from the road. Lighting is automatic and excellent and a short set of steps takes you up to that lovely terrace and the entrance doors. And you may ring if you need help with luggage.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Planning 2019? Try A Day and a Night on the Ring of Kerry.


A Day and a Night on the Ring of Kerry.
See. Stay. Dine. Visit.
Some foodie shopping had been notionally lined up for this October morning. But the sun shone so brightly, the landscape looked so inviting, even from our hotel window (above), that we decided to spend the day outdoors, outdoors on the beautiful Ring of Kerry. 

And that was the new, if last-minute, plan as we drove off from Killarney in the direction of Killorglin, the home of King Puck whose feisty statue greets you as you enter the town.
View from Carrig House dining room

We had no need to stop in Killorglin this time. But if you haven’t been, you could well take the short walk from the town centre over the old railway bridge. Go to a big car park just off to the right of the one-way (up) main street. Park there and walk downhill with the church to your left. Then up a slope, again on the left, as a metal bridge looms overhead. Up on to the bridge, the old railway bridge, from where there are very good views of the River Laune and the road bridge that you just crossed.

Feel like a mid-morning snack? Check out Jack’s Bakery & Deli, on Bridge Street, and they’ll feed you well and you can take your well-filled baps outside to the street side tables.
On the Ring. The Dingle peninsula is in the distance

There will be photo stops today, lots of them. After all, you are driving on one side of the Wild Atlantic Way and across the bay is the Dingle Peninsula. On a day like this, you can even see the beautiful Inch Beach where part of Ryan’s Daughter was filmed.

A place worth calling to between Killorglin and Cahersiveen is Kells Bay. We enjoyed a tour of the gardens (and the swing bridge!) there a year previously.
In Kells Bay Gardens

Ancient tracks
On now to Cahersiveen, from where you can take the short ferry to Valentia Island where there are terrific walks and views to enjoy; don’t miss the 385 million year old tracks of the Tetra Pod and also the lighthouse.

Cahersiveen (make sure you spell it correctly when entering it into your Sat-Nav!) is a busy enough town, boasting attractions such as The Old Barracks, the Daniel O'Connell memorial church and ancient stone forts and that ferry to Valentia. But the island, and the Skelligs Ring, is too much of a detour for us today and we carry on towards the pretty village of Glenbeigh.
Views from Valentia Island

Mick O'Dwyer
Our main stop is at Waterville on the huge and scenic Ballinskelligs Bay. Both Charlie Chaplin and General de Gaulle holidayed in the area. Indeed, there is a sculpture of Chaplin alongside the beach but, perhaps because of a rough looking character sitting alongside Charlie, no one seems to be taking his photo today. De Gaulle by the way has his sculpture in Sneem.

A more recent Waterville “statue” of a living legend, footballer Mick O’Dwyer, has no such distraction. There is also another sculpture here and it commemorates the Commercial Cable Company that in 1884 laid two cables across the Atlantic connecting Canada, Britain and France all via a station in Waterville.

Snack in Waterville

The first message from Waterville to St. John, Nova Scotia, passed along the transatlantic cable on Christmas Eve 1884. The cable station in Waterville was operational from 1884 – 1962. Read more here.  

We had enjoyed a hearty breakfast, as always in the Cahernane House Hotel, and didn’t need much of a mid-day meal. Not too many cafés in Waterville - bigger choice in Sneem. After a good walk, we headed for the Beachcove and enjoyed an excellent pot of tea (of generous proportions) and slices of well made apple tart, chunks of real apple here, none of that stuff squeezed from a tube!).

Sunshine on the edge of the sea at Waterville

They say do the Ring in the anti-clockwise direction and so we did, leaving Waterville and heading now towards Sneem, with the Atlantic on our right, one fabulous view following another, some back towards Waterville and the bay, and more as we came towards Derrynane, home of The Liberator Daniel O’Connell.

And soon, we were in Sneem, the sun still shining strongly, people eating and drinking outside, a man playing classical guitar, another serving coffee and crepes from a mobile van. Hey, I asked myself, what country am I in. But look, I know where I am. Maybe my momma told me, maybe she didn’t, but I often get days like this in Ireland.

We have been in Sneem quite often and have seen quite a few sculptures here. This time, on the road in, we saw signs for a Sculpture Park and started looking for it. But, as we walked around, we found it is really a sculpture trail, spread over three small parks. 

We did see one new one, that of the famous Kerry footballer John Egan who died too young. Like his family and friends, we would have preferred to have had to wait much longer for the event that gave rise to the memorial, nice and all as the statue is.  
Steve "Crusher" Casey, in Sneem

So now, we said goodbye to the Ring of Kerry. We could have headed into Kenmare but we had been there a few weeks earlier and instead took the high road towards Molls Gap. Again, there are spectacular views, this time mostly of the mountains. We also pass the Strawberry Field and its Pancake Cottage (below) where we’ve enjoyed a tasty snack from time to time! 

The views as we pass the high point of Moll’s Gap are now of the Lakes of Killarney and spectacular views they are and you can easily see how they would have attracted tourists especially in Victorian times when the railway arrived in the town. Soon, after negotiating 1001 bends on the narrow road, we would arrive in the town.
Superb steak at Murphy Browne's

We have dinner at a relatively new venue, Murphy Browne’s on High Street. Nothing cutting-edge in the cuisine offered here but they do their stuff well and turn local produce into very attractive meals indeed and the service is also excellent.

Our base for the night is the very centrally situated Killarney Lodge. It has 17 rooms and is just three minutes from the town centre. The rooms are spacious and very well equipped and the breakfast is top notch, served with a smile and a chat. 

And so it was with a smile on our faces that we left the Lodge and headed up the N22, back to our city by the Lee, knowing that the magic of the Kingdom is just about 90 minutes away!
Chill unit keeps breakfast items cool at Killarney Lodge




Thursday, November 8, 2018

Murphy Browne’s New in Town. Already Packing Them In


Murphy Browne’s New in Town.
Already Packing Them In
Super Steak
Murphy Browne’s, the new restaurant on Killarney’s High Street, know where their steak is coming from: from Cronin’s Butchers next door. And it’s quite a steak as I found out on a recent visit.

Denis Murphy and Deirdre Browne are the pair behind this lively new spot and they put in a few months of hard work on the old Smokehouse before opening their doors at the end of last spring. Denis does front of house while you’ll find Deirdre in the kitchen.

Back to that steak. I don’t often order it when out but did in Killarney. It was superb, an excellent piece of meat, very well handled and the basis for quite a dish. They don’t do things by half-measures here, no shortage of onions, a pot of chips plus a some lovely seasonal veg as well.
Bruschetta 

The menu is available online so we weren’t expecting anything really cutting edge here. What we got though was superb, good local produce well handled and well presented. And the service was stream-lined, really efficient but always a moment for a smile and a quick chat. They are doing well - the downstairs section filled quickly and they were directing customers upstairs.

They don’t have a full bar but they have a decent wine list. I’m always on the lookout for local beer and sure enough they had bottles from the Killarney Brewing Company available and I enjoyed a quart, approximately, of the Blonde.

Good choice of starters including soup, chowder, chicken wings and Caesar Salad. My pick though was the flavoursome, slightly spicy and aromatic Duck Spring Rolls, with chilli dip. Enjoyed while CL was very pleased with her Bruschetta (rustic bread, marinated tomato, hazelnut, basil, garlic and sun-dried tomato). The accompanying salads were well dressed, excellent.
Add caption

While I was making happy progress with my steak, she was pronouncing herself well pleased with Baked fillet of salmon which came with superb Mediterranean vegetables. She wasn’t too keen, in advance, about the Lemon cream sauce but, on request, they served it on the side.

There were other fish options on the mains, along with a Beef Burger, Lamb Shank, chicken, duck, lasagne, and a curry. Not too much for the vegetarians, just a Wild Mushroom Pasta.
Salmon

We probably had enough in any case and the dessert list wasn’t all that tempting, mostly the usual suspects such as Apple Pie, Chocolate Fudge Cake, Cheesecake of the Day and more, including the Day’s Special. More than likely, and going by what we had earlier, they would have been fine but we gave it a skip. We had been well fed and it was two quite happy customers that stepped out onto the main street, heading for a nearby bar.


8 High Street
Killarney
Co. Kerry
(064) 667 1446

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cahernane House. Comfort and Class. Superb Food and Service.


Cahernane House. Comfort and Class.
Superb Food and Service.
Morning view from the window of the Albericci Room

Breakfast pancakes
Many Killarney hotels have the advantage of mountains, lakes, herds of deer, more or less in the front garden and the renovated and very comfortable Cahernane Hotel on the Muckross is one of them. The lakes and mountains are constant but you may need to be on the alert around dawn or dusk to see the deer who come right up to the lawn boundary.

We were there in October and enjoyed a fantastic meal (details here) with restaurant manager Aileen and duty manager Youri looking after us. Have to say all the staff are brilliant here, always good for a chat and a laugh. 

Aileen is from the Philippines and has been in her current role since 2013. She oversees all aspects of the beautiful high-ceilinged Herbert Room restaurant and even demoed her singing talents with a rendition of Happy Birthday for a surprised guest on the night.

Not too sure if Youri can sing but I wouldn't be surprised. He is from Holland but in some ways is now as Irish as any of us. The minute you talk to him, you'll see he has a tremendous love and knowledge of all things food and drink. 
Deer at dusk

He told me they had had an extremely successful summer. "Tourists kept coming, more and more of them. And the season is extended even further this year." Indeed, the hotel was fully booked even for the opening two weeks of October.

Dinner is excellent here and you will also enjoy your breakfast in the Herbert Room. You may of course help yourself at the cold buffet as well as ordering from the Hot menu. The buffet includes juices, an excellent selection of fruits, seeds and nuts too, charcuterie, yogurts, cheese, cereals, breads and pastries.

You may start your Hot breakfast with Porridge (with some lovely additions including honey), Bruléed Pink Grapefruit, the Traditional Full Irish (of course), Manor House Omelette, Salmon and Egg Bagel, Buttermilk Pancakes, Smoked Kippers and a few other specials.

They also serve food (an all day menu) in the Cellar Bar and, later, you may enjoy a drink here. Quite a few cocktails available including their signature, 'The Herbert’, a smooth combination of gin, spiced rum, elderflower and fresh lime juice! 
Pint at ease in the Cellar Bar

They also offer gin (including my favourites Blackwater and Bertha’s Revenge) and whiskey flights. They support local too and stock beers (on draught) from the Killarney Brewing Company.  All these beers are named after local myths and legends, evoking emotions of all things Killarney. And all are pretty good, including the Casey Brothers stout!

Of course, the bedroom is a key part of any hotel and those in the Cahernane are excellent. We have previously stayed in the Garden Wing but this time we had a splendid room in the Manor itself, the heart of the old building. 
Welcome to Cahernane!

Like all the rooms here our Albericci Room has been recently renovated. It is spacious, comfortable, beautifully decorated, with great views, well-heated too, especially the bathroom (hard to beat hot tiles and hot towels in the morning!). And of course it has WiFi and TV as well.
A pleasant entrance drive to Cahernane

Just got in this press release on behalf of the Cahernane:

Christmas and New Year
Enjoy a festive break like no other this Christmas in the wonderful surrounds of the luxurious Cahernane House Hotel overlooking Killarney National Park.

The beautiful recently renovated manor house in Cahernane will be turning into a Christmas wonderland for the most wonderful time of the year, and guests will be able to finish 2018 in some style in the twinkling Kerry destination.

This Christmas, guests will be treated to an exquisite culinary experience at the renowned Herbert Restaurant which was recently awarded 2 AA rosettes for its excellence. The one-night Christmas package for two (€145 pps) includes a delightful five-course dining experience with the wine of your choice in the Herbert Restaurant, while a two-night package with dinner on one evening is just €220 pps. Booking dates are available from December 27-30th.

Guests who book via the Cahernane House Hotel website will also receive a complimentary glass of prosecco on arrival to ensure that their stay gets off to a welcoming start.

There is also no better place to ring in the new year than the toasty confines of Cahernane, who are running a brilliant New Year Celebration package that on December 31st. Guests will enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail reception before tucking in to a delicious 7-course tasting menu in the Herbert Restaurant.

An exclusive Christmas Party Package for groups of 10 or more is also available from November 1st- December 15th, with a luxury overnight stay kicked off by mulled wine on arrival, before guests enjoy a private Christmas Party in the Herbert Restaurant featuring a six-course menu and a complimentary class of champagne. A full Irish breakfast is also provided the following morning, all for just €140 pps.

There will also be live music in the drawing room on New Year’s Eve, where complimentary champagne will be served to ring in 2019 in style.

The New Year Celebration package is available for €175 pps.