Just west of the entrance to Lough Key Forest Park, you’ll see the black iron double gated entrance to Frances McDonagh’s lovely small Georgian residence, Lough Key House.
Ideally placed to explore the wonderfully wild North West of Ireland, it’s very handy to the characterful old town of Boyle and only a short 10km run to bustling Carrick-on-Shannon – and you couldn’t wish for a more comfortable or hospitable base for a break.
To get a taste of what’s to come, time your check-in for around 5 o’clock, when Afternoon Tea is served in the sitting room, with an open fire and good home baking to welcome guests.
Overlooking the rose garden (where guests may have Afternoon Tea in fine summer weather), it’s a lovely room for relaxing at any time, with lots of books, board games, flat screen TV, piano and a laptop with WiFi for guests’ use.
The three best rooms in the house are kept for guests and, although quite different, each has its special charm: the ‘best bedroom’ is the romantic Red Room, which has a super king size four poster bed; but the Blue Room is gorgeous too, with an Empire style queensize bed and an open fire – and the bathroom features a Jacuzzi bath as well as a power shower.
And then there’s the twin-bedded Yellow Room, which has a lovely view of the rose garden and the Curlew Mountains - and the beds can also be made up as a Super Kingsize bed.
All are en-suite, with power shower as well as full bath, and each room has an iron and ironing board, hairdryer, bottled water and CD/Radio Alarm Clock; no hot drinks in the rooms, but guests can help themselves to tea, herbal teas, and coffee from the dining room sideboard at any time.
Breakfast is a high point, and includes eggs from their own hens. The feast begins with freshly squeezed orange juice, fresh and stewed fruits, freshly baked bread and homemade jams and marmalades. Hot dishes then include house specialities of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon or fresh herb omelettes (with lovage & chives), as well as the traditional Irish Breakfast - or why not enjoy the freshly laid eggs simply boiled or poached...
It’s a happy house, with lots of animals around - dogs, cats, horses, donkey and hens – and Frances is a great hostess, keen to help guests make the most of their stay and get to know the area; maps and information on local attractions and activities are supplied – and there are bicycles are available for guests use.
This is an interesting area to visit and, although it feels agreeably far from everywhere, it’s actually very accessible with, for example, regular trains and buses from Dublin – and a typically hospitable offer to collect guests from Boyle.