Michael O'Donoghue is a native of Inis Oirr (Inishere or Inisheer), the smallest of the Aran Islands, and a former jarvey. The story of how he met his American wife, Alissa, when he drove her and her grandparents around the island on a day trip to the island is highly romantic. Having married in the States in 2004, they settled on Michael's old home overlooking the pier for their ‘happy ever after’, opened the charming Teach an Tae ("Tea House") the following year, and now have two children, Brendan and Niamh.
As you walk up to the village, Teach an Tae is the lovely substantial two-storey house on your right, with its own stone wall surrounding the front, a big pot of red geraniums beside their sign, a welcoming red gate and front door - and even the Irish flag.
Inside, you feel you are in the old family home as little has changed, with family photos on the walls and a choice of the two small front rooms, with a turf fire in the grate. On good days you can enjoy views over Galway Bay from the front.
Michael and Alissa understand the value of doing homely things well, and their menu is very simple. Their mixed flock of hens provides beautiful, fresh eggs for the baking, and the organic garden - replenished each year with sand and seaweed from the shore - is the source of vegetables and salads.
'Homemade means homemade’ is their motto, and everything is made from scratch (except the ice cream, which is from Co Wexford). They make the traditional Irish dishes that Michael’s mother has taught Alissa – soda breads, scones, Irish porter cake, apple tart - along with some of Alissa's family favourites from America, like her lemon poppy seed cake.
There will be a warming soup with freshly baked brown bread, a couple of open sandwiches with salad, along with those irresistible bakes and local jams – made with the blackberries that are so abundant on the island, perhaps - and a range of drinks including wonderful Fair Trade coffee served in a cafetière, and hot chocolate.
Prices are very reasonable (pretty much everything is €5 or under) and it’s a really enjoyable place to revive the spirits – in the lovely friendly company of Alissa and Michael.
They also offer free internet access, and sell homemade preserves and locally made crafts.