Carrig House was built originally circa 1850 as a hunting lodge, it was part of the Blennerhassett Estate. It has been mainly owned and used by British Aristocracy who came here to hunt and fish during the different seasons.
The house was purchased by Senator Arthur Rose Vincent in the early 20th. Century. Vincent moved here after he and his wealthy Californian father in law Mr. Bowers Bourne gave Muckross House & Estate in Killarney to the Irish Government for a wonderful National Park. Bourne had originally purchased Muckross House from the Guinness family and gave it to his daughter Maud as a present on her marriage to Arthur Rose Vincent. However, Maud died at a young age prompting Bourne and Vincent to donate the estate to the Irish Government. Vincent remarried a French lady and lived at Carrig for about 6 years, they then moved to the France. The country house history doesn’t end there, Carrig has had many other illustrious owners, such as Lady Cuffe , Sir Aubrey Metcalfe, who retired as the British Viceroy in India and Lord Brocket Snr, whose main residence was Brocket Hall in England.
Frank & Mary Slattery, the current owners purchased the house in 1996. They are the first Irish owners of Carrig since it was originally built and have renovated and meticulously restored the Victorian residence to its former glory.
For the past 15 years Frank & Mary have operated a very successful Country House & Restaurant and have won many rewards for their hospitality and their Lakeside Restaurant. They are members of Ireland’s prestigious Blue Book.
Carrig House has 16 bedrooms, each individually decorated in period style with antique furniture. Each room enjoys spectacular views of Caragh Lake and the surrounding mountains. All rooms are en suite with bath and shower plus direct dial telephone. Those who like to indulge can enjoy the sumptuous comfort of the Presidential Suite with its own separate panoramic sitting room, male and female dressing rooms and bathroom with Jacuzzi bath.
The restaurant is wonderfully situated overlooking the lake. The atmosphere is friendly, warm and one of total relaxation. The menu covers a wide range of the freshest Irish cuisine.
Irish trout and salmon from the lake and succulent Kerry lamb feature alongside organic vegetables. Interesting selections of old and new world wines are offered to compliment dinner whilst aperitifs and after-dinner drinks are served in the airy drawing room beside open peat fires.
Within the house, chess, cards and board games are available in the games room.
Croquet can be enjoyed on the well-preserved lawns, whilst the gardens are a haven for gardening enthusiasts who may avail of personalised tours with the head gardener.
Carrig House is the perfect setting for fishing, golf, cycling, canoeing and sailing. Here, one finds some of the best walking in Europe plus a wealth of archaeological sites and places of historic interest within easy reach. The house is adjacent to the Ring of Kerry, Muckross House, Dingle Peninsula, Slea Head, Ross Castle and many beautiful beaches. There are up to 15 excellent golf courses nearby for golf enthusiasts.
By Mary Leland, Irish Examiner
A Bat, a sickle moon, a promising splash, and all else is silence and stillness at nightfall at Caragh Lake. I chose the easy Killarney route to Killorglin from Macroom; the road leads easily onto the landscape that seems to gather the traveller into a circle of embracing hills. As evening wanes the colours darken and the hills become mountains, the stream beside the road becomes a river, the uplands slanting away are washed with fading, golden light.
The directions lead to a bog road (there is even a bog village here), which drops down to a fertile valley, dense with trees. Just when I think I’ll sell my soul for a chance to see the lake, glimpsed here and there through the greenery, the gateway to Carrig House beckons; beyond it lie the mountains, the moon. The bat, The splashing trout and, at last, Caragh Lake.
Mangerton looms black in the far distance and Carrauntuohill is higher than the cloud over the McGillycuddy Reeks. Where the last light of the evening glows to the west/ there is a salty reek from Mount Brandon and the headlands of Dingle. From my bedroom window, behind me. Lamplight spreads its gleam over the lawn and garden paths; candles flicker in the bays of the dining room, where my white-draped table awaits. From the sitting room, with its bookshelves and armchairs and table-lamps, comes the inviting and familiar tang of turf blazing in the wide hearth.
I have to make my way back from the lakeshore, before dark, if I don’t want them to send out search parties. In fact, this dusky enchantment is not isolated. The house is at my back, and lively with preparations for the evening meals in the restaurant.
On Caragh Lake, a shrubbery is enough to hide the world. The paths wind through the garden and end at the slip, or at a gap in the trees, or in the water. The oak woods grow almost from the waterline.
The old houses here began, like Carrig house itself, as a shooting boxes or hunting lodges, retreats from the busy Victorian world of the landed gentry, the military or the merchant classes. It was to this house that Senator Arthur Vincent came when he remarried after the death of his first wife. She was the daughter of the American, Bowers Bourne, who had given the Vincents a wedding present of Muckross house in Killarney.
When Vincent left. He and his parents-in law gave the Muckross Estate to the Irish nation as a memorial tribute in 1932. Carrig house had already had a succession of owners since it was built in the 1850’s; after Vincent it was sold to Sir Aubrey Metcalf, one of the last Ministers of the British administration to India, who lived here for about eight years. He was a cousin of The McGillycuddy’s. On the walls of Carrig House, these family faces smile from the tennis parties and boating rips of 50 Years ago.
After them came Lord Brocket, who owned several other notable houses, including Carton and Cashel palace. With this embarrassment of two homes to choose from, Lord Brocket only visited Carrig a few times a year, installing a caretaker instead to keep the place in good order, until it was sold in 1983 to a German family. Frank, and his wife, Mary Slattery, and their children, came here in 1996, leaving their restaurant business in Tralee to realise a dream they had dept alive for twelve years.
Carrig house is a Victorian residence, extended by different owners. The dining room has been extended into the garden by enlarging a conservatory, so that the timber sash windows look directly onto the lake, which glistens between the trees. William Morris wallpaper, elegant curtaining, glittering glassware, and cutlery on white napery, with simple garden flowers everywhere, give this area a style, which is both fresh and sophisticated. Run as a comfortable country house, Carrig has a wonderful kitchen; it also welcomes non – residents. When I drag myself back from the lakeside, I sit down to black and white, seafood pudding on Carrageen moss with saffron vinaigrette, followed by a sweet potato soup, seared scallops with spicy couscous and green tomato salsa. I won’t even mention the desserts. But I must mention the music of Aine Nic Gabhann, on harp and then piano. Her melodies lie on the night air like a romantic charm.
All of the sixteen bedrooms are different in style. Some are spacious enough to rank as a suite, others cottage style and quaint, but all sharing an atmosphere of easy comfort with big, blanketed beds, (from Eadies Mills on the Killarney road, rugged carpets, efficient bath rooms, couches, cushions and attractive upholstery.
The bedrooms look out onto the four acres of gardens and onto the lake with its rampart of mountains. In the morning light, this is breath taking. I drink it in from my window-table with my orange juice, waiting for my bacon and mushrooms, while buttering my treacle bread (just one of the breads made in the kitchen each morning) and planning my drive home. Frank and Mary guide me to their favourite places in the hills; for them the business they run at Carrig House is a labour of love, and their knowledgeable advice is like a bowl of brilliant apples from the old orchard, another indication of the care they take to get it right.
This glen of the Caragh river is just one of the idyllic settings which Kerry offers to rival Killarney. As I circumnavigate Glencar, I leave Dooks golf-links between the seas and Mount Seefin and all its neighbouring peaks. I also leave for another day what remains, in Glenbeigh, of Winn’s Folly, the fortress-like mansion designed in 1867 by Edward William Godwin for the Hon Rowland Winn. Winn was an eccentric of one kind. Godwin, who eloped with Ellen Terry of another and Winn’s son, the fifth Lord Headley, added to local legend by adopting the Muslim faith with such ardour that he became president of the British Muslim Society.
The folly, officially named Glenbeigh Towers, was burned down in 1922. I turn instead for Blackstone Bridge, staying in second gear, intimidated by the fringe of passive sheep along the roadside. A blue boat tied on the shore, the grass grows up into heather and bracken and down into reeds, and the native houses are those with their gable-ends to the view. Lickeen Wood emerges from the oak thickets, Lough Acoose fill the hallows with its steel-grey waters. Mountain ash, hollies and furze radiate in the ditches, while horned free-range cattle calmly block the little bridge over the streams which plunge into a maze of tributaries all rushing to their home at Caragh Lake.