The Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards 2020 in association with Failte Ireland

From classic breakfast favourites to dishes with a twist, the winners of the 2020 Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards in association with Fáilte Ireland were announced today.

Eight businesses across the country were crowned Ireland’s top breakfast venues in categories including 5* Hotel, B&B and Guest House. This year saw the introduction of a special sustainability award; the public got to have their say on Ireland’s best brunch venue and five Irish producers were selected for the consistently excellent quality of their produce, which appear on many of the best breakfast menus across Ireland - and deserve to be seen on many more.

Now in their fourth year, the Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards celebrate the people and businesses that strive to make the first meal of the day as memorable as any fine dining experience, and with a real sense of place. If you are tucking into homemade brown bread, creamy Irish butter, McCarthy’s Irish sausages and apple juice from Co. Tipperary, chances are you’re enjoying one of the highest quality Irish breakfast in Ireland, and there’s nowhere else in the world that can compare, according to Georgina Campbell.

Biggest not always the best

Awards founder, Georgina Campbell, who is one of Ireland’s foremost food and hospitality writers, believes that breakfast is a food experience that Irish businesses, regardless of size, can do particularly well for their guests and customers.

“The great thing about being able to offer a hearty Irish breakfast is that you don’t have to be the biggest to be the best and indeed, can be a venue of any size to compete in this important and competitive arena. Serving up a good quality breakfast can have a lasting impression on customers. Doing the simplest of things well is enough to encourage a return visit and build a strong reputation for your establishment, regardless of how many people you can seat,” said Georgina Campbell.

This year Georgina noticed some marked improvements, notably in the three-star hotel category, which has become more focused on its breakfast offering. “We are considering more three-star hotels than ever before for an award, and this is really heartening, with huge efforts going into producing a fine breakfast from many business owners and their kitchen teams. There have been improvements across the board, particularly in the area of food sourcing and local provenance – as seen in the excellent breakfast menus that establishments submitted as part of our Irish Breakfast Survey, undertaken in partnership with Fáilte Ireland. But there is still a lot of work to be done and I am hopeful we will see even greater improvements next year.”

Sustainability - keeping it local

Acknowledging Ireland’s leading producers is an important element of the Irish Breakfast Awards, as we need to encourage all breakfast providers, particularly hotels, to support local producers. “By investing in and supporting good quality local providers you are investing in and supporting a more sustainable Ireland. This has become a real priority for the hospitality industry and it’s something that has to be at the top of our collective agenda – permanently. Ethical, sustainable practices are good for business and a commitment to quality produce with a sense of place should be seen as a sound investment rather than an unnecessary cost. It will enhance the reputation of individual hospitality providers, along with Ireland’s reputation and that in itself is progress,” said Georgina.
Ashford Castle was selected as the inaugural winner of the Sustainability Award at the Irish Breakfast Awards, recognised for its environmental credentials in relation to impressive sustainable practices including its food sourcing policy and commitment to sourcing the best seasonal ingredients from the west of Ireland. It was the first five-star hotel in Ireland to be awarded GREENmark Plastic Smart recognition by for its efforts in responsible tourism and commitment to removing all single-use plastics by 2022.

Special Guest Rachel Allen on the Awards

Celebrity chef Rachel Allen joined Georgina for a Q&A at the awards and said: “These awards are unique in that they highlight a meal that is all too often overlooked by business owners as the least important of all their dining options. Not so! Like Georgina, I know what a good quality breakfast can do to enhance the reputation of a business and even a locality. But now, more than ever, we have to focus not only on outstanding service, a warm welcome and delicious Irish produce but sustainability has to be at the heart of everything we do in this industry too. And collectively, we can make an enormous contribution to protecting the plant.”

Brunch - not just a passing trend

The Brunch Award was also a key moment at the awards gala after 30 shortlisted venues were whittled down to one, following a public vote.
“Brunch is now part of the fabric of Ireland’s food culture. People truly enjoy the quality and variety of dishes on brunch menus across Ireland. So much, in fact, that brunch is now considered one of the most popular meals for people to enjoy “out”. It’s for this reason that we opened the Brunch Award to a public vote, and we were delighted by the hugely enthusiastic response from food lovers across the country. But there was one very clear winner, Arán Bakery and Bistro in Co. Kilkenny, which received a torrent of votes from its loyal customers, indicating just how passionate Kilkenny people are about their brunching options.”

Visitor experience key to growth

Jenny De Saulles, Fáilte Ireland’s Sector Development Director, commented on the importance of high quality, locally sourced food to the overall tourist experience: “High quality food and dining experiences are an integral part of the tourist experience showcasing the great quality of Ireland’s local produce and the fantastic range of establishments right across the country. The Irish breakfast is a key part of the visitor experience and offers a unique opportunity to showcase Irish food and great visitor experiences we can be proud of. These awards which Fáilte Ireland proudly support, are significant because they bring an independent seal of approval that tourists and locals alike will rely on.
“Great experiences are central to the growth and success of our tourism industry and breakfast should be a positive part of every holiday or break. We have come a long way and today’s winners are testament to the incredible standards that can be achieved, regardless of the type or size of establishment. These businesses are exemplars for the industry and demonstrate that continuously raising the bar ensures consistently high visitor satisfaction levels.”
The Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards in association with Fáilte Ireland took place at the InterContinental Dublin.


Meat: McCarthys of Kanturk, Kanturk, Co Cork
• Eggs: Belview Eggs, Drogheda, Co Louth
• Dairy: The Little Milk Company, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
• Fruit: The Apple Farm, Cahir, Co Tipperary
• Preserves: Filligans, Glenties, Co Donegal


• Rua Deli & Café, Castlebar, Co Mayo


Winner Limerick Strand Hotel, Limerick
• Highly Commended: The Twelve Hotel, Barna, Co Galway

Small Stay
Winner Lough Bishop House, Collinstown, Co Westmeath
• Highly Commended: Archways B&B, Rosslare, Co Wexford

Winner: Lough Erne Resort, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh

• Highly Commended: Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Doonbeg, Co Clare
• Highly Commended: Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

Winner: Avalon House Hotel, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny
• Highly Commended: Cliff at Lyons, Celbridge, Co Kildare
• Highly Commended: Vaughan Lodge, Lahinch, Co Clare

Winner: Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, Co Cork
• Highly Commended: The Killeen House Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry
• Highly Commended: Stauntons on the Green, Dublin

Winner: Huntington Castle & Gardens, Clonegal, Co Carlow
• Highly Commended: Ashley Park House, Nenagh, Co Tipperary
• Highly Commended: Ardtara Country House, Upperlands, Co Derry

Winner: The Quay House, Clifden, Co Galway
• Highly Commended: Heatons House, Dingle, Co Kerry
• Highly Commended: Lancaster Lodge, Cork

Winner: Sheedy’s Doolin Boutique B&B, Doolin, Co Clare

• Highly Commended: Danny Minnies, Annagry, Co. Donegal
• Highly Commended: The Wilder Townhouse, Dublin

Winner: Hillsborough Castle Café, Hillsborough, Co Down

• Highly Commended: The Commons Café at MoLI, Dublin
• Highly Commended: Good Day Deli, Nano Nagle Place, Cork

• Ashford Castle, Cong, Co Mayo

Winner: Arán Artisan Bakery & Bistro, Kilkenny

Runners up:
• Seasalt Café & Deli, Cobh, Co Cork
• Kelly’s Kitchen, Newport, Co Mayo
• Sweet Geranium Café, Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim
• Osta Café & Wine Bar, Sligo


Georgina Campbell’s rigorous programme of anonymous assessment visits is a year-round process. With the exception of the Brunch Award, which is open to public nominations, and the Irish Breakfast Award, which is judged from menus submitted as part of the annual Irish Breakfast Survey, conducted in association with Fáilte Ireland, award winners are nominated solely by an independent assessment team. Reports are fed through to the hospitality website
Editors Notes
Georgina Campbell’s Irish Breakfast Awards in association with Fáilte Ireland celebrate the finest Irish food producers and those who take special pride in preparing and serving the best breakfasts in Ireland. Highly sought after, the award winners are selected based on the findings of Georgina Campbell’s annual assessment process; a team of independent assessors travel incognito to every county in Ireland to assess the breakfast offering at recommended establishments. Georgina Campbell also operates the independent Georgina Campbell’s Ireland guides in print and online.
Fáilte Ireland: Fáilte Ireland is the National Tourism Development Authority which aims to support the tourism industry and work to sustain Ireland as a high-quality and competitive tourism destination. Fáilte Ireland works with other state agencies and representative bodies, at local and national levels, to implement and champion positive and practical strategies that will benefit Irish tourism and the Irish economy.



The aim of the Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards in association with Fáilte Ireland is to encourage everyone who is serving breakfast in Ireland to up their game and give visitors - both international and domestic - the best possible experience to start their day. Recognising those who are already doing a great job is a key element in that process and, in seeking out the best, we look for an all round experience and genuine hospitality, as well as authenticity - and a sense of place.
Our winners come from all around Ireland - see regional tourism brands highlighted alongside winners names, and a summary of the Fáilte Ireland regional tourism brands below.
The essence of the regional tourism brands, as defined by Fáilte Ireland:

The Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland's first long-distance touring route, stretching along the Atlantic coast from Donegal to West Cork.
Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands: Explore the lush green heartlands of Ireland’s natural rural beauty... where activity and relaxation are centred around rural communities and their lifestyles, that can be discovered across a lattice work of land and water trails showcased by the iconic River Shannon and the Beara Breifne Way.
Ireland's Ancient East showcases Ireland’s living culture and ancient heritage and brings it to life through stories that create unique visitor experiences, unite stakeholders and support vibrant communities.
Dublin living thrives side by side with the natural outdoors so you can constantly jump between completely unique, different and often unexpected experiences.

An important new award introduced this year, the Sustainability Award reflects the core values of our entire awards programme. With sustainability and environmental concerns taking centre stage worldwide, the hospitality industry has an important contribution to make and luxury hotels, especially, need to re-assess their offering.

Winner: Ashford Castle, Cong, Co Mayo

ABOUT: Ireland’s grandest castle hotel, Ashford Castle, was bought by Beatrice and Stanley Tollman, of the South African hotel group Red Carnation Hotels, in 2013. Since then, an extensive programme of repair, restoration and refurbishment has brought the property back to its glorious best, and, in line with the Red Carnation Hotels policy, there is now a particular focus on environmental initiatives. Notably, it is the first five star hotel in Ireland to be awarded GREENmark Plastic Smart recognition by, the Green Tourism reference site for, for its efforts in responsible tourism and commitment to remove all Single Use Plastics (SUPs) from the property by 2022.
Special breakfast highlights?
Ashford Castle was the Five Star Hotel winner in our 2018 Irish Breakfast Awards and its local sourcing policy was a key reason for the award. While breakfast is just one part of the sustainability picture, it is an important one as Executive Chef Philippe Farineau has always been committed to sourcing the best seasonal ingredients from the West of Ireland - as has Chef Jonathan Keane at the Lodge at Ashford, which is also on the estate. So, by supporting local producers of all the ingredients that make a great meal, including a breakfast - the rashers and eggs, the sausages, the whole ham, the smoked salmon, even the whiskey that guests are encouraged to sprinkle onto their porridge - the kitchen team at Ashford Castle are making a real difference. It’s good to see a leading hotel taking the lead on sustainability - more power to them.

We all expect a stay in a five star hotel to be an all-round special experience, offering the very best of the best of everything - impressive surroundings, exceptionally spacious and luxurious accommodation, outstanding food and service, wonderful leisure amenities…. It should be a real treat and, at its best, that’s just what it is, providing superb and truly Irish experiences. Yet, even at this level, there are variations in standards. And an area where these variations are especially noticeable is in the breakfast offering, which can be genuinely memorable - but is not always as wonderful as the experiences that are such a pleasure at our winning hotels.

Winner: : Lough Erne Resort, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh
ABOUT: Beautifully located in County Fermanagh's rolling lakelands, this world-class resort had the distinction of being chosen as the venue for the G8 Summit in 2013 – an event which attracted worldwide attention and continues to attract visitors to this lovely area. Under the eye of a watchful general manager, the hotel is notably well run: service is attentive, warm and courteous, and everything is extremely well kept with logs fires blazing and brasses gleaming.
Special breakfast highlights?
Executive Chef Noel McMeel has been very active in the recent development of Northern Ireland's food culture and it’s an understandably popular dining destination, notably for the experience offered in the fine dining Catalina Restaurant, which is named after the famous flying boats that were based in Fermanagh in WW2 and enjoys lovely lough views. It also provides an uplifting setting for breakfast when an impressive array of in-house breads and pastries is offered alongside an outstanding rendition of the traditional Ulster fry, made with local Cavanagh Free Range Eggs, Pat Doherty’s bacon and other local produce, while other irresistible dishes include Smoked Haddock and Eggs Benedict…. An experience to savour.

Highly Commended: Powerscourt Resort & Spa, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

Highly Commended: Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Doonbeg, Co Clare

Usually seen as luxurious, Four Star hotels are spacious and offer suites and extensive amenities, often including a spa. They also tend to have ambitious restaurants, many with a national reputation that ensures their success as a food lovers’ destination. It is a highly competitive category and, at their best, destinations like our winning establishments offer an outstanding guest experience and often very good value too, usually seen in special offers such as midweek and off-season breaks. But sometimes the high standards of food and service enjoyed at dinner can descend into something very different at breakfast time - and we would love to see breakfast given the same status as dinner, and be accorded the same respect.

Winner: Avalon House Hotel, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny

ABOUT: It is always a pleasure when new quality destinations are added to Ireland’s hospitality portfolio and this one is especially welcome. A lovely old creeper-clad building on Castlecomer's handsome main street, the Avalon House Hotel lay empty for some years until the Comerford family brought it back to life and it re-opened as a four-star hotel in spring 2019. And, not only did a lot of TLC go into the restoration, but happily there was an equal commitment to the kitchen. Chef Cathal O'Dowd has a well-earned following and the atmospheric first floor restaurant, Lil's, attracts diners from a wide area.
Special breakfast highlights?
The delicious local food offered here includes a really good breakfast, which is served in Lil's by cheery, well trained staff. Menus include all of the best breakfast dishes (with name checked suppliers for many items) with unusual touches - homemade baked beans, for example - and some brunch-style dishes such as a Mexican omelette, with avocado/jalapeno, scallions, chorizo and cheese. The high standard of cooking and the enjoyable breakfast experience overall also encourages guests to have other meals in the hotel. All round, this lovingly restored hotel is a great asset to Castlecomer - and to County Kilkenny.

Highly Commended: Cliff at Lyons, Celbridge, Co Kildare

Highly Commended: Vaughan Lodge, Lahinch, Co Clare


The majority of Irish hotels fall into the Three Star category and the range is inevitably very wide. It includes everything from excellent small family-run hotels to much larger properties that might score on amenities (such as the leisure facilities that are so important for family holidays), rather than hands-on hospitality or a focus on good food. Our winners represent the best at the smaller end of the spectrum, and show just how rewarding a stay at a Three Star hotel can be. This is the category where we have found the most improvement in the last two years, although we would love to see more Three Star hotels up their game at meal times - and especially at breakfast, which is too often a price-led offering.

Winner: Eccles Hotel & Spa, Glengarriff, Co Cork

ABOUT: Famous for its mild Gulf Stream climate and lush growth, Glengariff has been a popular tourist destination since Victorian times, although the historic Eccles Hotel overlooking Glengarriff Bay actually dates back further, to 1745. In new ownership since 2016, it's an interesting place to stop for a bite to eat in the bar, or to enjoy afternoon tea in the sun overlooking the harbour - and there's always a welcoming fire burning in the large reception area too. In summer, especially, it’s a food lovers’ destination, with chef and Great British Menu star, Eddie Attwell, heading up a strong kitchen team.
Special breakfast highlights?
The Garinish Restaurant, where both dinner and breakfast are served, is a handsome room with views across the bay. Each morning a beautifully decorated table offers a splendid buffet selection – a tempting display of freshly baked breads and pastries, a full range of cereals, fruits and juices - in addition to a good choice of hot dishes, including organic porridge with honey, the traditional Irish (featuring the excellent Rosscarberry bacon), waffles with syrup, organic smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, and a particularly delicious Eggs Benedict. Eddie is a keenly seasonal chef, well known for his love of home grown, local and foraged foods and that sense of immediacy informs all of his menus – and ‘breakfast like a king’ could well be his motto.

Highly Commended: The Killeen House Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry

Highly Commended: Stauntons on the Green, Dublin

While the Irish B&B and Guesthouse categories are quite clearly defined, that great gem of Irish hospitality, the Irish Country House, will generally be found tucked in somewhere among the B&Bs, listed as an Historic House. There is a logic to this as, although large properties, they rarely have more than half a dozen guest rooms. However, it would be lovely to see these wonderful places - and the extraordinary families who run them - given the starring role that they deserve, in a special category. As is self-evident from the range of winners representing them here, they are the beating heart of Irish rural tourism - and especially rewarding to seek out.

Winner: Huntington Castle & Gardens, Clonegal, Co Carlow

ABOUT: Ancient seat of the Esmondes and now home to their descendants, the Durdin Robertson family, Huntington Castle dates back to 1625 and is full of surprises - not least in the basement, where an exotic Temple to the Goddess Isis replaces the old dungeons - and, like all the very best castles, it even boasts a cast of resident ghosts. Add very special gardens, an adventure playground, gorgeous accommodation and a charming daytime café (plus the wonderful Sha Roe Bistro at the end of the drive) and Huntington Castle adds up to a perfect destination.
Special breakfast highlights?
Breakfast is served country-house style, at a big old kitchen table, allowing guests to mingle and share their recent activities and plans for the day. As one happy guest said: "There is something special about dining in a historic castle at a communal table and being served by the owners. This is hospitality in a relaxed way - breakfast was pre-ordered and it was just perfect. Nothing fancy but just excellent ingredients, perfectly cooked - and we really enjoyed meeting other guests and swapping stories and recommendations." All round, Huntington Castle is irresistible.

Highly Commended: Ashley Park House, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

Highly Commended: Ardtara, Upperlands, Co Londonderry


So what exactly is a guesthouse? In the Airbnb era, this question is being asked more and more often. Usually bigger than a B&B and smaller than most hotels, a guesthouse has 7 to 30 en-suite bedrooms and must be registered with Fáilte Ireland in order to use the term. Breakfast must be provided and, in the Guide’s experience of this somewhat misunderstood and underrated category, the best Irish guesthouses provide some of the finest accommodation, food and hospitality in the country - as our winners demonstrate.

Winner: The Quay House, Clifden, Co Galway

ABOUT: It’s not every day that you see oysters on a breakfast menu, but it’s one of the many things that makes The Quay House different. In a lovely location - right on the harbour, with pretty water views when the tide is in - it was built around 1820 and is the oldest building in Clifden. Now in the incomparable hands of long-time hoteliers, Paddy and Julia Foyle, it’s a fine house, with exceptionally comfortable accommodation in wittily decorated and sumptuously furnished rooms, and has been one of Ireland’s most desirable destinations since 1993.
Special breakfast highlights?
With the restaurants of Clifden just a short walk away, no dinner is served - but they make up for that at breakfast, which is served in a lovely new conservatory overlooking the harbour. The buffet is laid out to tempt you as you enter, and orders for your tea or coffee are taken even before you sit down at tables welcomingly set up with individual jugs of freshly squeezed orange juice. Organic apple juice is also available, along with fruits, Greek-style yogurt, home made cakes and breads, delicious farmhouse cheeses, and a choice of teas, as well as filter coffee and hot chocolate. Main dishes includes that ‘dish of local oysters,’ fish of the day and naturally smoked kippers, alongside more usual dishes, such as a perfectly cooked traditional Irish breakfast, creamy scrambled eggs with oak smoked salmon, or omelette with ham, cheese and herbs, all served with crisp toast, and fresh top-ups of tea and coffee. The Eggs Benedict and its variations make another excellent start to the day (try it with that smoked salmon rather than the usual bacon), and guests are also invited to enquire about the daily specials. There's nothing flash about breakfast here, just simple perfection, as it always has been.

Highly Commended: Heatons House, Dingle, Co Kerry

Highly Commended: Lancaster Lodge, Cork, Co Cork

The family run B&B is our most familiar accommodation across Ireland and, whether rural or urban, it’s especially popular with overseas visitors. So what makes a great B&B? They can be anything from a roadside bungalow to a historic house or a restaurant with rooms, but all of the best are lovely, friendly places to stay, offering comfort at a reasonable price, great breakfasts and interested hosts who anticipate their guests’ needs yet give them space – and who enjoy nothing better than introducing people to their area. We have some superb B&B stays on offer in Ireland, but there is room for many more, and we’re glad to hear that more B&Bs - including farms, we hope- are planning to up their game to make this a more obvious choice for discerning visitors.

Winner: Sheedy’s Doolin Boutique B&B, Doolin, Co Clare

ABOUT: There are many well-established businesses that have been doing an outstanding job for decades, and we salute them all. But it is always especially encouraging to see new class acts coming on stream - and that is the case at Frank and Marian Sheedy's hospitable modern B&B in Doolin village. Space, good design and quality are the keynotes at Sheedy’s and - given the couple's well earned reputation as former restaurateurs in the village – it’s no surprise that good food is also the highlight of a stay here.
Special breakfast highlights?
Considering this is a small establishment, you will hardly believe the buffet spread that is laid out in the spacious and well-lit dining room and there may even be a special to add to the already extensive menu on offer. The fruits, the yogurts, the delicious freshly baked breads and then the perfectly cooked hot dishes, it all adds up a memorable breakfast experience. Then, when the well-fed guests reluctantly depart, even the Red Setter, Beans, comes out to say goodbye - and, hospitable to the end, everyone leaves armed with plenty of guidance on the best things to do on the next stage of their trip. There should be nothing but happy memories from a stay at Sheedy’s of Doolin.

Highly Commended: Danny Minnies, Annagry, Co Donegal

Highly Commended: The Wilder Townhouse, Adelaide Road, Dublin


Our Visitor Attractions are not generally known for their food and, all too often, can be downright disappointing. This is letting everyone down, and it’s a missed opportunity to enhance the experience. But it doesn’t have to be like that - and it is improving. Our winners this year offer very different experiences, focusing on interests as diverse as the arts, gardens, our rural heritage and education, yet they all have one thing in common: a memorable food experience. All are food destinations in their own right and - crucially - they’re accessible to all, as you don't have to pay the entrance fee to the attraction in order to eat there. Each offers a great example for our visitor centres to aspire to.

Winner: Hillsborough Castle Café, Hillsborough, Co Down

ABOUT: A splendid late Georgian ‘Big House’ with a fascinating history, Hillsborough Castle is now an official UK government residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and of the Queen. Following a major restoration, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens opened to the public in April 2019, and you can now do a tour of the castle's elegant State Rooms (still used by the royal family), and explore the 100 acres of beautiful gardens - with sustenance provided by Simon Dougan’s famed Yellow Door Catering. The team includes another leading chef, Barry Smyth, who is the Managing Partner at Hillsborough Castle with responsibility for Hillsborough Café (at the Visitor Centre near the car park and open to all) and the Stableyard Tearooms (ticket holders only). The Café is very large, to provide for group tours and very busy times, but there's an alternative to the cafeteria ambience in some more intimate, comfortable areas that are more appealing to individual visitors - and the locals who enjoy popping in for a tasty bite.
Special breakfast highlights?
To the credit of all, this new jewel in the crown of Northern Ireland’s already impressive tourism offering is a committed ambassador for the region’s – and Ireland’s – food history and culture. A hearty breakfast of, for example, the ‘Full Ulster Fry’ (with both soda bread and potato bread) in the Café will set visitors up for a day’s exploring. The Yellow Door supplier list reads like a who's who of quality Irish food, including names like Clandeboye and Glenilen yoghurt (North Down and West Cork respectively), Whites Oats of Armagh, Kennedy dry cure bacon, Quails sausages (Banbridge), Cavanagh free range eggs (Fermanagh) and the wonderful Abernethy butter (Down) among many others. All round, it’s a wonderful destination - one for the bucket list.

Highly Commended: The Commons Café at MoLI, Dublin

Highly Commended: Good Day Deli, Nano Nagle Place, Cork

Of all meals, brunch is the one that reflects modern Ireland the best and its flexible timing, relaxed approach and wide-ranging menu base give brunch a unique multi-generational appeal. This is the only Georgina Campbell award that’s open to public participation and, from over 150 nominations, we posted a ‘shortlist’ of 30 leading brunch venues that we felt best conveyed the essence of the ideal brunch in both urban and rural areas, and invited the public to support their favourite. The high calibre of nominations must have made for some difficult choices but, from many thousands of votes, the top five bunched ahead of the rest - and a clear winner eventually emerged.

Winner: Arán Artisan Bakery & Bistro, Kilkenny

ABOUT: Bart Pawlukojc and his wife Nicole Server-Pawlukojc brought a wealth of experience at top restaurants in Europe and beyond when they settled in Kilkenny and opened this superb bakery and daytime restaurant in 2019 - and it shows in the stylishly simple interior as well as their delicious food. Arán - meaning bread in Irish - is all about simple and good. Their breads are made with just four ingredients - flour, salt, water and natural leaven or a fresh yeast culture - and stone-baked in their special bread oven. And, unusually, they use locally grown stoneground flour, which is milled by the seventh generation of the Mosse family at The Little Mill on the River Nore, at nearby Bennettsbridge.
Special brunch highlights?
The all-day brunch changes depending on seasonal availability but will always showcase local produce from Kilkenny and nearby counties. Many come especially for the Arán Breakfast Platter, featuring Ballon Farms Egg Sunny Side Up, Sourdough Toast, Jam, Baba Ghanoush, Knockanore Cheddar Cheese, John Joe’s Rashers, Dizzy Goat farms Wild Pig Sausage & Goat’s Cheese, Hash Brown and Sautéed Mushrooms, it's definitely not your average Irish breakfast. Vegetarian and vegan options are available too, and this is just the start of a menu that offers imaginative variations of many of the most popular breakfast and brunch dishes, along with stalwarts such as soup of the day. Everything has a very local tone and there are irresistible cakes and pastries too, of course - and natural wines (including bubbly) available to give your meal a lift. Most certainly worth a detour, Arán is simply special.

In county order:
Highly Commended: Seasalt Café & Deli, Cobh, Co Cork

Highly Commended: Sweet Geranium Café, Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim

Highly Commended: Kelly’s Kitchen, Newport, Co Mayo

Highly Commended: Osta Café & Wine Bar, Sligo


The best Irish Breakfast menus provide a tangible link between the wonderful produce that is available to kitchens all over the country and the visitors - both international and domestic - who will benefit from the sense of place that a meaningful menu can create. The Menu winners have been chosen from the many dozens of evocative menus that were submitted by establishments responding to the Irish Breakfast Survey recently completed by Georgina Campbell’s Guides in association with Fáilte Ireland. Undertaken with accommodation providers recommended by the Guide over a three-year period, the main aim of the survey has been to sound out industry attitudes and encourage improvements to the visitor experience across the board through giving breakfasts in Ireland that special sense of place - which, of course, involves enthusiastically supporting local producers. Judging by the high standard of menus submitted (which is backed up by the experience of independent assessors), we are well on the way to achieving that aim.

Judged from menus submitted by participants in our 2020 Irish Breakfast Survey, the ‘Hotel’ and ‘Small Stay’ designations given below reflect the diversity of participating establishments.

Winner - Hotel: Limerick Strand Hotel, Limerick

ABOUT: Just across the Sarsfield Bridge from the main commercial heart of Limerick, this highly regarded modern hotel has a pleasant ambience, with great views from the upper floors - and, unusually for a large hotel, it's a good place to explore some of the foods of the region. This is all thanks to the efforts of Executive Chef Tom Flavin, who has been a Fáilte Ireland Food Champion and works hard to make food provenance and seasonality a point of difference throughout the hotel, and especially in The River Restaurant.
Special breakfast menu highlights?
Serving a good breakfast has always been a point of pride for Chef Flavin and the hotel is a previous winner in our Irish Breakfast Awards. The buffet boasts over 100 items - yet it is not the wide variety that makes it exceptional, but the care that has gone into the selection. Leading off with a mini-feature on the benefits of organic honey, this unusual breakfast menu next highlights some key suppliers - including J. O’Dea Smoked Cheddar, Achill Island Sea Salt, Flesk Meats of Macroom (Irish Sausages) Leah’s Foods, Listowel (Black & White Pudding) and Sean Duggan, of Croom (Free Range Eggs and Honey) - thus setting the quality tone, before launching into what must be one of the country’s most extensive offerings of cold buffet and hot dishes from the chef’s station, in-house bakery and their own Limerick Strand Pantry Range Preserves & Chutneys. It is an outstanding offering by any standards - and it runs like clockwork too.

Highly Commended - Hotel: The Twelve Hotel, Barna, Co Galway


Winner - Small Stay: Lough Bishop House, Collinstown, Co Westmeath

ABOUT: Down a long drive off a byroad between Collinstown and Castlepollard, in a beautifully scenic area awash with lakes, gentle hills and rich farmland, you’ll find Lough Bishop - a working organic farm complete with Irish draught horses, where Helen and Christopher Kelly offer a warm welcome and a genuine Irish family home experience.
Special breakfast menu highlights?
Also previous winners in our Irish Breakfast Awards in 2011, when we asked ourselves, among other things, “How many hosts can offer fresh fruit and just-pressed apple juice from their own orchard at breakfast?” Nearly a decade on, and the appeal is just the same. While the menu is not long, every single item on it - from Helen’s homemade granola (‘with Kilbeggan Organic Oats and honey from our bees’) to the Bell Lane Coffee from Mullingar - is local or home produced. There’s fruit from the garden and the cooked breakfast features ‘eggs from our hens’, sausages and dry-cured bacon from Thomas Doherty craft butchers of Kells and smoked black pudding from the famous ‘Smokin’ Butcher’ Hugh Maguire in Ashbourne. And then there are the home baked breads (both soda and sourdough), homemade marmalade and a whole rake of preserves made with ‘fruit from the orchard, garden or around the farm’. Simply magic - and you can have dinner here too.

Highly Commended - Small Stay: Archways B&B, Rosslare, Co Wexford

The Irish Breakfast can be a wonderful experience - but it’s only as good as its ingredients. All cooking depends on the quality of products for success and the simpler the meal the more obvious that is - and breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, but it is also the simplest. On the upside, that offers a unique opportunity to showcase the excellent Irish produce that is central to a memorable breakfast experience, and especially the traditional breakfast plate - the crispy rashers, the succulent sausages, the beautiful free range egg - but, on the downside for those who are running price-led food operations, any shortcuts taken are glaringly obvious. We aim to encourage everyone who offers an Irish breakfast to make it a really good one. To that end, each year we select some of the key elements of a good breakfast – typically a range of Meats, Fish, Cereals, Eggs, Dairy, Fruit, and Preserves - and heartily commend a producer in each that is notable for consistent excellence. Most are also medium sized business that have the scale of production needed for consistent supply to hotels. Source authentic ingredients and the difference will show on the plate.

IRISH BREAKFAST FOODS - MEATS: McCarthy’s of Kanturk, Co Cork

One of Ireland’s most famous butchers and rightly so, McCarthy’s of Kanturk in Co Cork is an institution that is very definitely ‘worth a detour’. Fifth and sixth generation butchers Jack McCarthy and his son Tim come from a long line of butchers that have been perfecting their techniques and developing new and value-added meat products since1892. Colourful recent highlights in the McCarthys’ careers include a visit from 23 members of the French Brotherhood of the Knights of the Black Pudding, no less, who presented Jack with a Gold Medal for his fresh blood pudding - and they created a bespoke pudding to serve at the state banquet celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Ireland in 2011 too. Today, in their recently redesigned shop, they stock an exceptional range of fantastic meats including local free range pork, Aberdeen Angus beef, local Duhallow milk lamb and free range chicken, and you’ll also find highly regarded speciality products here including spiced beef, air-dried beef - and their sought-after Ardrahan cheese & smoky bacon sausages. They also introduced Ireland’s first “Practical Pig in a day” courses for chefs, single pig families and food lovers - and, bang on the money commercially too, they have an excellent online shop with delivery anywhere in Ireland.

IRISH BREAKFAST FOODS - EGGS: Belview Eggs, Drogheda, Co Louth

Established in 1978 by Dermot and Nicola Herlihy, this family run business may not be the biggest egg producer in Ireland - but it's a leading operation when it comes to sustainability. Improving on sustainable systems is at the heart of their development and this includes installing 400 solar panels, so the farm is now powered completely by solar energy. This and other initiatives, including many undertaken as part of their membership of the Bord Bia Origin Green project, have led to Belview Eggs being seen as a benchmark in the industry, which must be a great point of pride for the family. The hens benefit from all these initiatives too, of course, and so does the local environment. It's a remarkable vision - and something to marvel at next time you spot Belview Eggs in your local shop, or pass one of their vans on the road.

IRISH BREAKFAST FOODS - FRUIT: The Apple Farm, Cahir, Co Tipperary

The Traas family has operated an all year farm shop at The Apple Farm near Cahir since the 1970s, offering fresh fruit in season, fruit juices (including a unique sparkling apple juice and a natural cider vinegar) cider and preserves. Visitors are welcome to walk around this beautiful and rightly famous farm and see the fruit growing - and there is even a spacious caravan/camping site on the farm, with good facilities. Con Traas and his team grow an astonishing range of apples - about 60 varieties - along with multiple varieties of other fruits, including strawberries (grown outdoors and only available when they ripen naturally), raspberries, cherries, plums and pears. Today they are best known for their juices, made from fruit grown on site specifically for juicing, and there are some innovative new products too, such as Irish Beetroot Juice, a 70/30 blend of Offaly beetroot from Feighery's Farm and Tipperary apples - any of which would enhance the finest breakfast offering.

IRISH BREAKFAST FOODS - DAIRY: The Little Milk Company, Dungarvan, Co Waterford

Beginning as a discussion group to consider the sustainability of their organic family farms in 2008 and established as a company with a full time CEO in 2013, The Little Milk Company is an innovative organic farmers’ cooperative demonstrating that environmentally responsible small producers can thrive by working together. Today a high proportion of their milk production is used to make a range of organic cheeses, and the company continues to recruit local farmers to convert to organic production in order to meet future demand. They collaborate with local cheesemakers, including the famed Cashel Blue, and export much of the production. Their excellent cheeses are not only a treat to eat - they make a great talking point on the breakfast buffet too.

IRISH BREAKFAST FOODS - PRESERVES: Filligans, Glenties, Co Donegal

Where there is good home baking, delicious handmade preserves are unlikely to be far away – and this is certainly true of the North-West of Ireland. Since 1997, for example, Filligans, one of Ireland’s most respected ranges of traditionally handmade preserves, has been made by Sara and Philip Moss away up in the unlikely location of Glenties in north-west Donegal. Initially their small batches of jams, marmalades and chutneys were made for just one shop in Dublin, and their growing range is now available from a network of carefully selected specialist outlets. And, although the business has expanded - and with it their commercial kitchen - Filligans products are still made in the traditional homemade way, and the recipes they use have either been passed on to them by family and friends or they have developed them themselves. When visiting the area, you’ll spot them in quality shops - and also on menus in some of the nicest places to eat and stay.

A former Director General of Failte Ireland (Bord Failte as it was then) instigated this award in the early 1990s - it was ahead of its time and few understood its significance, but its time has certainly come now.
If ever there was a perfect example that the little things matter, it’s bread. Every self-respecting Irish hotel, B&B and restaurant makes their own special bread, and this simple gesture sets the tone for many a memorable experience. It’s one of the great strengths of Irish cooking, which makes it especially disappointing when tasteless commercial baking is offered instead of the real thing. In recent years, ‘new’ breads have joined our traditional soda breads and this has enriched the range although we shouldn’t forget the old favourites in the rush for novelty. This year’s winner is an interesting and very delicious example of Irish bread making at its best.

WINNER: Rua Café & Deli, Castlebar, Co Mayo

ABOUT: This unusual bread is from the McMahon family’s Rua Café and Deli in Castlebar, Co Mayo, and it was originally a Gerry Galvin recipe. “As a chef, restaurateur and poet, Gerry was always an inspiration to us at Rua”, explains Aran McMahon, who runs the Rua businesses with his sister Colleen. “After his untimely passing in 2013, we decided to make a version of his delicious Dillisk Soda Bread, which we had remembered enjoying at a family meal in Drimcong many years before. We still make the bread every week and sell it at our shop on Spencer Street every Friday where it is much loved by our customers.” A classically trained chef with a love of Irish traditions and a curious, inventive mind, Gerry Galvin was always ahead of the curve; this recipe is an unusual hybrid of different baking techniques, and he was one of the earliest chefs to use seaweed in modern Irish cooking.

Click here for recipe 

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