Way out in west Clare, halfway out along the Loop Head pensinsula and overlooking the Mouth of the Shannon, is the picturesque little fishing village of Carrigaholt. It’s a charming place, untouched by the over development of recent times and well worth a visit.
You may well be hungry and thirsty by the time you get there, but that’s fine as there’s a choice of hostelries to slake your thirst and feed you – including Tony and Imelda Lynch’s classic 19th century pub, which has earned a well-deserved reputation for its friendly atmosphere and good food, especially local seafood. And, if you visit on a Friday, you'll find a display of Imelda's good home baking laid out for sale too.
It’s changed very little over the last 50 years and, with plenty of local and historical items displayed on the walls to interest visitors relaxing over a drink or waiting for a food order, there’s a real sense of sharing with the community here, even on a short visit.
The food has changed a great deal in recent years however, with a varied and carefully planned menu offered, as well as a daily fish specials board. You know you’re in good hands when you see a menu that menu states reassuringly that all produce used is either produced or sourced locally and lists suppliers; it also highlights with a shamrock the dishes using Irish produce (almost all), while a puffin indicates the (considerable) choice available on the Early Bird Offer.
So far so very good indeed – and it gets better as you read about starters like fresh College Bay oysters with a Jameson and lemon dressing (well worth a try) or Carrigaholt crab tart with organic leaves; soups including Our Famous Seafood Chowder, served with Imelda’s brown bread; and main courses like herb crusted cod with creamed leeks and an Atlantic Mixed Seafood Platter with Seasonal Salad.
And non fish-eaters won’t starve either as there are several main course choices From the Land, including a good steak, and some perennial favourites ‘Just Like Mammy Used to Make’, including traditional Irish bacon & cabbage with parsley sauce.
Friendly staff are quick to take orders and make visitors feel welcome, and when the food arrives it just fits the bill – well cooked, hot and tasty, great seasonal local produce and nothing too fussy: what more could you want? They say on the menu ‘By the time you have finished your meal we hope you are planning your next visit’ and that’s far from fanciful – you may well be.
Just make sure you have plenty of fuel in your tank – the nearest filling station is in Kilkee and it’s closed on Sunday; the drive to Kilrush could seem very long.