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Built in 1720 and rescued from dereliction by John and Nora Egan in the 1980’s, Inch House stands like a welcoming beacon at the centre of the family’s large tillage farm near Thurles. Its sense of connection to the land is palpable, embodying a family philosophy that is tangibly demonstrated in their fine classically furnished restaurant, where showcasing local produce has always been a priority.
With the seventh Savour Kilkenny Food Festival coming up (24-28 October 2013; www.savourkilkenny.com), there’s no better time to visit the Marble City - and no better place to eat than the Kilkenny Design Centre, just across the road from Kilkenny Castle. It has long been a favourite destination for lovers of good food and that’s down to the committed leadership of Kathleen Moran, proprietor since the centre opened in 1989.
Gannet Fishmongers in Galway has received the most nominations in a survey conducted among leading Irish restaurant owners and chefs, who were asked to identify their ‘Supplier of the Year’.
If you ever need an excuse to go to the lovely seaside village of Crosshaven, there’s bound to be something going on at the Cronin family’s Victorian pub on the harbour front that would do very well.
Set in the grounds of Ashford Castle, Lisloughrey Lodge enjoys one of the most beautiful locations in Ireland, with views down Lough Corrib. The hotel was developed during the boom and a modern approach was taken, but it has since changed management and, while still contemporary, the elegance of the beautiful old house at its heart has been restored.
Although it is, as they say themselves down there, ‘easy to reach but hard to leave’, Carlow somehow remains Ireland’s undiscovered county - which is, of course, the secret of its charm, so perhaps things are better left that way. But not if James and Cait Coady have anything to do with it, as their stylish boutique hotel, The Step House, has made the pretty heritage village of Borris a popular destination for short breaks and weddings.
Complete with 16th century armoury, huge open fires, massive chandeliers and many quirky features, this castle just outside Ballina makes an unusual small hotel. It’s a wacky place for those who enjoy something out of the ordinary and it would be great fun for a group get together.
With its weekly farmers’ market (one of Ireland’s best) and an enviable range of shops and restaurants catering to all tastes, Midleton has become a favourite destination for food lovers - a growing number of whom have been beating a path through the gated archway off the long main street that leads to The Courtyard and then to chef Kevin Aherne’s Sage Restaurant which, although in a beautifully renovated stone building (and influenced by the best of traditional values), is modern through and through.
A love of traditional food and recognition of the environmental impact of the business are the driving forces behind Michelle Darmody’s paradise for cake lovers in Dublin. But, for all its predictably pretty flower print table cloths and dainty mismatched china, this charming place is more down to earth than you might think and they have plenty of quality savouries on offer too.
The 'Just Ask!' Restaurant of the Month for October is unique, as it goes to one of Ireland's true leaders in the field of food provenance - and the consistency of the message tells its own story.