The Lord Bagenal is beautifully situated on the River Barrow, with a fine harbour and marina right beside the inn and a pleasant riverside walk nearby.
Although now a large hotel rather than the pub that is fondly remembered by many regular patrons, proprietors James and Mary Kehoe have taken care to retain some of the best features of the old building - notably the old end bar, with its open fire and comfortably traditional air - while incorporating new ideas. (A novel - and highly practical one - is a supervised indoor playroom, which is in the bar but behind glass so that, in time-honoured fashion, children can be seen and not heard).
Bar meals include a popular lunchtime carvery/buffet which draws local diners, but it is the restaurant that will be of interest to visitors - and fortunately there is no need to travel far after dinner, as the bedrooms are just a few yards away.
A large marbled foyer has a raised seating area and an unusual circular stairway with toughened glass steps - and, as elsewhere in the hotel, it is enhanced by artwork from James Keogh's fine contemporary collection.
All guest rooms are comfortably furnished in a modern hotel style with phones, TV and tea/coffee facilities, while the newer ones have extra features including flat screen TV and impressive bathrooms with roll top baths - the spacious deluxe riverside rooms with views over the bridge and marina are especially desirable.
Golf & equestrian nearby; fishing boats for hire. Marina (30 berths).Conferences/ banqueting (500/250). Garden, fishing, walking. Children welcome (under 3s free in parents' room, cot available free of charge, baby sitting arranged; playroom). No pets.
Rooms 39 (all en-suite, 5 suites, 2 family, 3 ground floor 2 for disabled). Lift, all day room service; B&B €55-65 pps, ss €45.* Special breaks offered.
The Lord Bagenal Restaurant
The evening restaurant is in the old part of the hotel, with an emphasis on traditional ambience and open fires. Head chef George Kehoe's menus reflect this to some extent - several beef dishes, roasted lamb and duck, grilled chicken breast, poached salmon are all likely to feature, but traditional dishes are lifted and lightened by the inclusion of some more contemporary accompaniments.
Well-sourced foods are combined in an interesting and flavoursome way, and the cooking has finesse. Typical dishes from the repertoire might include a perfectly cooked starter of roast quail stuffed with prunes, which is is beautifully presented on a bed of wild mushrooms and full of flavour - and, like a simple well-cooked classic dish of Bannow Bay mussels marinière, is sure to please.
Expect generous portions of main course meats such as sirloin or fillet beef, perhaps with a port win jus, and maybe a tender slow roast rump of lamb with a rosemary jus; but there will also be several fish dishes and at least one appealing vegetarian dish on each course, perhaps including a starter of Wicklow brie fritters with home-made Lord Bagenal chutney.
The dessert menu champions old favourites like apple crumble & creme anglaise, bread & butter pudding and sticky toffee pudding, all well made, with lighter fruit-based desserts offered in summer.
George's good cooking, together with a pleasing setting, makes an enjoyable combination - and the renowned Lord Bagenal wine list, although much reduced these days, is still a very good list offering great value.
Also overlooking the marina and river, the Waterfront Restaurant is a bright, high-ceilinged room opening on to a large covered deck area; used mainly for breakfast and Sunday lunch, it is available for private functions (80).