Lena and I had planned a midweek break at the Dunmore House Hotel in West Cork from Tuesday 17th October until Friday 20th. Then Ophelia, with all the turmoil and damage she brought, caused us to have second thoughts. We called the hotel on the evening of Monday 16th and discovered that it was indeed fairly unpleasant on the south west coast of Ireland. However, they encouraged us to telephone again the next morning when they could give us an up-to-date report. They also assured us that, if we decided not to travel, there would be no cancellation charges.
I phoned early on Tuesday morning and the report was that, while they had lost a few slates, the hotel’s own generator was providing their electricity until the power returned and their water supply was working. They also told us that there was a considerable number of downed trees and other storm damage on many of the roads but that already they were being cleared.
We decided we would ‘give it a lash’ and set off mid morning for the hotel situated just a few kilometres south of Clonakilty. It turned out to be one of the best holiday decisions we ever made. Though it took around five and a half hours to get there, with one stop on the way, it was motorway or dual carriageway all the way from Lisburn to Cork and a good road from there to Clonakilty. It was only on the last few miles from “Clon”, as it is referred to locally, to the hotel that there was a slight problem with trees and some flooding.
The hotel is situated right on the coast of West Cork overlooking Duneen Bay. As you can imagine the views are spectacular both across the Bay and over to the east to Muckross Head. It is also on the route of the Wild Atlantic Way and a perfect base from which to travel in a very beautiful part of Ireland.
When we arrived our bags were taken to our room and we had just sat down in one of the lounges when the owner/proprietor of the hotel, Carol Barrett, came to us with the greeting – ‘Anyone who is willing to drive for five and a half hours into the unknown deserves a proper welcome.’ – and opened a bottle of bubbly for us. This set the tone for the rest of our stay.
The furnishings of the hotel were both contemporary and comfortable rather than the more common ‘one or the other’. This applied both to the public rooms and to our bedroom with just about every facility you could ask for – plus the incredible view across the bay.
For quite a number of years, the yardstick I have used in comparing hotel food quality has been Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, where Seamus Common’s La Fougère Restaurant has been winning awards galore. I have no idea who the head chef is in Dunmore House but, for the three days of our stay, the kitchen kept on turning out some quite outstanding food. While, perhaps, it may not have been quite as venturous as Knockranny, it was fresh local produce – lamb, fish, prawns, crab – cooked to perfection and beautifully presented. Breakfasts, which are also served in the Adrift Restaurant, were equally outstanding with both cooked and cold options. Watch out, Seamus!
Fellow gin lovers will be pleased to know that I counted about seven or eight options in the two bars which also serve food in a more casual environment.
As well as the 30 bedrooms in the hotel itself, there are two houses in the Courtyard area of the hotel, one with six bedrooms and another with three, both with options of self catering and/or hotel facilities. Dunmore House Hotel has been chosen as the Irish Wedding Venue of 2017 and has also conference facilities. Both can cater for up to 300-350 people. And there is also a nine hole golf course.
Dunmore House Hotel has a lot going for it. Our stay there was wonderful, and there are a couple more comments I’d like to make about it. While we were there, many people in the local area were still without electricity and some from nearby had come to the hotel for food or just a cup of coffee. The welcome they received was delightful to see. And this exemplified something about the hotel which I couldn’t initially ‘put my finger on’ but which I finally realised was the fact that every single member of staff and management I encountered was immensely proud of ‘their’ hotel and their role in it. Bar staff, restaurant staff, cleaners, front desk, chamber maids, managers, owners – each one shares in the pride. All in all, it made me realise that this is a very special place, to which we will very definitely return.