Cashel House Hotel, Connemara
Cashel House Hotel and Gardens, located at the head of Cashel Bay is a magnificent 19th century country house, run by the Mc Evilly family since 1969. The welcome you get from the owners and staff alike is that of a family member returning home from afar. Originally put on the map by a visit by General De Gaulle in 1969, Cashel House Hotel has been a consistent high point of country houses.
The atmosphere is one of relaxation, with a certain air of formality. The drive up to the house, the manicured lawns, the private foreshore and the elegance of the house is followed through within, where you will find yourself surrounded by pieces from years gone by; the paintings, an antique piece over the log burning fire or a book in the library, everything with its own story to tell.
The dining room is a formal setting spread over two rooms; the main room leading down the steps to the glass domed conservatory overlooking the well lit gardens. Everything in the room is a very soothing tone of green, from the festoon curtains to the carpets and the high backed velvet chairs.
The tables are all fully set with solid silver and beautiful chinaware, all bringing you back to another lifetime. The other diners were a mixed bunch, with a large party of locals celebrating an 80th birthday in the main room, while in the conservatory were couples and groups of friends. Proprietor Kay McEvilly was very present with her guests and ensured that nobody wanted for anything.
The menu was short and concise offering 4 courses for €60.00 including tea/coffee. The only supplements were €6.95 if you decided to finish with an Irish coffee or have the lobster at €24.00. The wine list is comnprehensive and offers a wide selection of countries and prices, with some very good Bordeau including Chateau Lynch Bages Grand Cru, and a Haut Brion, while the New World is represented by the excellent Cloudy Bay. We settled on a bottle of the house white - a Chateau Bonnet Entre-Deux-Mers Vignoble Andre Lurton, a really crisp white wine, 75% sauvignon which had attracted a lot of attention from international wine critics, and at €30.00 a bottle I felt it was a good choice.
The menu features as much local produce as possible, with the majority coming from the fields, lakes and seas in and around Connemara. Starters included steamed Killary mussels, oysters with vinegrette, salad of prawns and locally smoked salmon. Main courses are classic, with meats including lamb, free range duck and sautéed sirloin of beef, while the fish choices are a lemon plaice, locally caught seabass and a very tempting gilled dover sole.
I decided on the warm three cheese tart with mango sauce while my husband enjoyed the warm quail parcel. The cheese tart worked really well, a mix of cheddar, mozzarella and brie, while the quail was perfectly cooked, retaining it’s tenderness and moisture. Next up I had the strawberry sorbet as a palate cleanser while he thoroughly enjoyed the parsley and chive soup.
Our mains was simple but well planned - I had the grilled turbot, cooked au pointe, while himself went with the Connemara lamb, which was perfectly pink and full of flavour. Creamy mash and a selection of vegetables accompanied, and we finished with a double chocolate parfait and a homemade fruit salad.
Over a nightcap in the bar we decided we thoroughly enjoyed our evening, and when we got back to our room to find the beds had been turned down and hot water bottles put in, we felt really well taken care of. Cashel House is a little bit special, the attention to detail is astounding, and you experience that sense of wellbeing of which only the truly pampered are capable. Fabulous destination for a romantic break.