Mount Falcon will be fondly remembered by many for its lovable eccentricity under the previous owner, Connie Aldridge (whose late husband Major Robert Aldridge, a keen archaeologist, helped discover the Céidhe Fields) and it is now owned by the locally based Maloney brothers, who fell in love with it when visiting in 2002 and bought the estate when Connie retired.
They then completed an extensive building and refurbishment plan that included extending the original house and building a number of luxurious courtyard houses and woodland lodges.
Now a 32 bedroom luxury hotel, Mount Falcon is a welcoming place. A series of ground floor drawing rooms and lounges have comfy sofas and open fires, and coffee tables scattered with books and magazines about fishing, hunting and country life in general create a homely atmosphere.
Accommodation includes six deluxe rooms on the upper floors of the original house (including two suites, the Wallpool and Connor’s Gap, which are named after famous pools on the Mount Falcon Fishery); they have been restored with pitch pine shutters and floors, original cornices and marble fireplaces whilst integrating the necessary modern comforts.
The newer rooms are spacious, with custom-designed furniture, television and radio, direct dial phone, personal safe and hairdryer as standard.
The estate enjoys more than 2 miles of double bank salmon fishing on the River Moy, and the 100 acres of grounds have been redeveloped and landscaped to incorporate lakeside and woodland walks. Other local activities include championship golf, at nearby Enniscrone Golf Club, and horse riding - and there are many beaches nearby.
Conferences/Banqueting (250/220), broadband wi/fi, video conferencing. Spa, leisure centre with indoor 'pool, steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and gym.
Rooms 32 (2 suites, 4 junior suites, 2 for disabled); B&B €110pps, ss €85. Children welcome (under 2s free in parents' room, cots available free of charge, baby sitting arranged); Lift; 24 hr room service. Self catering also available. Helipad.
Philippe Farineau ("Irish Produce, French Heart" ) has cooked in Ireland for many years and brings pedigree and passion to his role as head chef at the wonderfully atmospheric Kitchen Restaurant. Originally the kitchen and pantry of this grand house, the main diningroom resonates with old world charm and history.
Exposed stonewalls, old cookbook illustrations and gleaming copper pots make it an elegant and unique space for Philippe's gourmet cuisine and it also makes a delightful breakfast room for residents; the smaller room, which is used for overflow on busy nights, has less atmosphere but is ideal for a private party.
Suppliers, name checked on the menu, include butchers Jarlath Tolan of Crossmolina and Kelly’s of Newport - both famous for their own sausages and other products such as home cured ham and traditional puddings as well as the main cuts of meat, which would include Achill mountain lamb in season. The Moy River, which runs through the Estate is a source of wild Atlantic salmon, trout and (when permitted), eel.
Cheeses are from Connaught and Munster and most of the vegetables and salads are grown on the estate (where there are three polytunnels as well as extensive gardens), including wonderful herbs and berries, from meadowsweet to elderberry; mushrooms are foraged on the estate too, and wild game also features on the menu over the winter months. Every Saturday Philippe has a fresh harvest of seaweeds and samphire coming from Killala, and other special local produce includes Cuinneog farmhouse country butter from near Castlebar, and Achill Island Sea Salt.
Detailed menus list the spread of seasonal treats Philippe calls on to create his complex repertoire. A starter of Irish seafood and beetroot will look as exciting and artistic as it sounds. Imagine tasting portions of salmon gravadlax, Galway prawns, escabèche fish and Kilkenny trout caviar accompanied by home-grown beetroot four ways: red beetroot purée, rainbow beetroot pickled, blinis and powder.
A main course of Skeaghanore duck breast cooked sous vide might come with nettle potato croquette, cherries, baby turnip, rainbow beetroot and gizzard confit salad with summer truffle. Each dish is exquisitely presented, with great attention to detail and clean, fresh flavours. Most of the vegetables and salads are grown on the estate, including wonderful herbs – from meadow sweet to elderberry – and mushrooms foraged there too. Suppliers, name checked on the menu, showcase a commitment to local produce.
Desserts are equally adventurous, perhaps a sublime “deconstructed After Eight’ confection, or dish of exquisite petit fours. The hotel also boasts an impressive wine list with good choice.
Staff are warm and welcoming, although service would benefit from being a little more focused.
Philippe’s cooking is accomplished, adventurous and ambitious - and, while some dishes may promise more than they deliver, you should have a treat in store at this unusual restaurant.