Tranquillity, trout and tea in the drawing room - these are the things that draw guests back to the Hodgson family’s gracious, but not luxurious, early Victorian manor overlooking Lough Corrib. Currarevagh, which was built in 1846 as a wedding present for Harry Hodgson’s great, great, great grandfather, is set in 150 acres of woodlands and gardens, with sporting rights over 5,000 acres.
Guests have been welcomed here since 1890 (almost certainly making Currarevagh Ireland’s oldest guesthouse, certainly the longest in continuous family membership) and the present owners, Harry and June Hodgson, are founder members of the Irish Country Houses and Restaurants Association (‘Ireland’s Blue Book’), now joined by their son Henry and his wife Lucy.
Yet, while the emphasis is on old-fashioned service and hospitality, the Hodgsons are adamant that the atmosphere should be more like a private house party than an hotel, and their restful rituals underline the differences: the day begins with a breakfast worthy of its Edwardian origins, laid out on the sideboard in the dining room; lunch may be one of the renowned picnic hampers required by sporting folk. Then there’s afternoon tea, followed by a leisurely dinner.
Fishing is the ruling passion, of course - notably brown trout, pike, perch and salmon - but there are plenty of other country pursuits to assist in building up an appetite again for dinner.
And here there have been big changes lately, since Lucy joined the family, because she is a professional cook (Prue Leith trained and with her own catering company, Tindal O’Grady) and – to everyone’s delight - has taken to the kitchen at Currarevagh with huge enthusiasm.
Her dinner menus - all based on fresh local produce and maintaining the Currarevagh motto ‘keep it simple, unfussy and ultimately delicious’, as before – offer no choice, but they are changed daily and there is definitely a frisson of anticipation as guests sit down to dinner.
There's a definite 'local and seasonal' tone to menus - typically, you might begin a late spring/early summer dinner with salad of marinated artichoke with black olive tapenade and wild garlic pesto; follow with ballotine of Athenry free range chicken asparagus & stem broccoli with Noilly Prat jus and sautéed new potatoes – and round off with almond polenta & lemon cake and blueberry compote; There's even a cheese course to follow, if you can fit it in before the coffee and petits fours - and an extensive, fairly priced wine list to accompany too.
All very delightful for guests at Currarevagh – and for the area, too, as non-residents are welcome (by reservation).