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Carrig Country House Snug & Secluded – Irish Times Review*

“We arrive at Carrig Country house on foot of a 30 year old tip. It is our first time visiting  Kerry and we have only two requisites: an open fire  and proximity to the Iveragh peninsula.

Thirty years ago my partners parents spent a couple of nights in an old Victorian hunting lodge on Caragh lake, 7km from Killorglin and a gateway to the Ring of Kerry, so we google and find what we are sure is the same place: an ivy covered house on Caragh’s shores.

Driving up the tree lined avenue, the silver lake is as clear as glass, and we can smell the wood burning fire from outside, even on a hot early June day. It must be the place, we think as we are shown to “a superior lake view room”, number 10, which must be the best in the house. With it’s three bay windows, it offers views of the mountains across the lake. Although part of the hotel’s new wing, the slightly ragged sunken armchairs, armoire and king-sized mahogany bed lend the authentic sensibility.

We are grateful for concessions to modernity, particularly the Triton shower with it’s large bronze head. Unfortunately, the “natural extracts” toiletries smelled like ammonia and carbolic soap and there were no dressing gowns for lounging around in, but you cant have everything. We were chuffed at the thought that we had stepped back in time into the shoes of another generation.

Over aperitifs in the main reception room, Frank Slattery, who has run Carrig Country House for 14 years, dashes our hopes. Before the Slatterys, the house was run by Germans as a b&b, and before that it was a private dwelling. The house we were looking for, he says, must be Caragh House, one of the many other hideaways that line this secluded spot, but it is no longer run as a hotel.

No matter, Carrig Country House is exactly what we are looking for. It is old world, intimate and discreet. The feeling of seclusion is enhanced by the network of interconnection snugs on the ground floor; and private living rooms for four to eight people, where you can read one of the hundreds of books scattered around the place.

Two that caught my eye were a book on William Morris and a beautiful catalogue of Irish artist  Pauline Bewick’s Seven Ages exhibition. The Morris book was interesting, as the hotel’s wallpaper and curtains feature some of his designs. The plum and lemon print in the garden-view dining room was particularly striking. In the dining room, the Bewick connection also becomes  clear as several of her Caragh Lake inspired paintings hang there. She lives locally and often comes by for dinner.

Dinner at the hotel is excellent. While our meal was included in the weekend deal we booked, a four course dinner for two with a bottle of wine is €99. There is plenty of choice on the set menu, the highlight being the roasted duck with shallot tart and the sweet brown bread, which is also served at breakfast, at which the usual cold buffet and cooked options  are served.

Live piano music on Saturday night made the dining room a little formal, so we retreated for chicken and chips at Glenbeigh Hotel.

The professionalism and welcome offered by the Slatterys is what makes Carrig Country House stand out . They address guests by their first names and provide a wealth of information on the area. Kerry is one of the densest tourist spots in Ireland and there are hundreds of hotels in the nearby towns, while B&Bs line almost every curve in the Ring of Kerry itself.”

 

*Go Overnights are reviewed anonymously and paid for by The Irish Times