An Neidín (Kenmare)

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I’ve bloody missed this place!

It’s been some time now since I visited Kenmare in County Kerry. I’m fortunate enough to have some lovely family living in this idyllic spot and we visited for a few days last month. Sheila and Ian run a superb B and B just outside the town, adjoining The River Roughty. If you visit you won’t find a more hospitable welcome and superb breakfast than at Forgefield House. Kenmare has everything going for it, the most stunning scenery including must dos, The Ring of Kerry and The Ring of Beara. Kenmare has a vivid history and had an involvement in The Easter Rising of 1916.

forgefield house front
Forgefield House is close by The Roughty River

This year we drove The Ring of Beara. It’s such a beautiful, somewhat bleak place, particularly on The Healey Pass but it is simply not to be missed and it too has an historical perspective.

So our first day in Kenmare was a scorcher and we set out to visit The Boat House at Dromquinna Manor. I’d never visited Dromquinna before. It’s in a beautiful setting close to Kenmare and on the Sneem Road. The setting is truly gorgeous and it’s owned by one of Ireland’s most respected hoteliers and TV personalities, John Brennan. John’s brother, Francis, is an equally respected hotelier and owns The Relais and Chateau, The Park in the centre of Kenmare.

We had such a nice start to the day meandering along the rocky sea shore, but there was one thing I was impatiently waiting for. My first pint of Guinness! I am not sure why, but it tastes so much better in Ireland.

So 12.30pm and it’s Guinness time and lunchtime at The Boathouse. The icy cold Guinness tasted sublime and, in fact, lunch was even more delicious. Now, remember, that the area is renowned for its fresh fish and shellfish. So the natural choice for me had to be Beara Scallops with Sneem Black Pudding. This was, as usually is, a terrific combination of flavours and the scallops were as fresh as they could be. You simply must have the sea salted fries alongside. Without doubt these were some of the best fries ever! Equally successful were The Boathouse Fishcake and Calamari.

It's so good for you. The first of many.
It’s so good for you. The first of many.

So next day after the regular scrummy breakfast we head out on a walk into Kenmare.

We took a stop for coffee at The Sheen Falls Lodge, yet another Relais and Chateau hotel in a spectacular setting in the midst of the eponymous Sheen Falls. This is a mesmerising place and I particular loved the spectacle of salmon jumping the falls.

The beauty that is Sheen Falls
The beauty that is Sheen Falls

So into Kenmare. We did some shopping, which is great in Kenmare, but, of course, it’s all about the food and the local shellfish. We wandered around and wandered in to The Wander Inn. If you read Tripadvisor, The Wander Inn doesn’t necessarily get the best ranking in Kenmare. However, we had a great lunch of local mussels and a seafood platter. The choice of restaurants is endless in Kenmare but bear in mind many of them do not open at lunchtime.

Mussels at The Wander Inn
Mussels at The Wander Inn

In the afternoon we drove up to Molls Gap on The Ring of Kerry. It’s another spectacular drive past the peat bogs and views of The Macgillycuddy Reeks. It’s named after Moll Kissane who ran a pub here and was famous for her illicit poitin! Surprisingly, given its remote location, there is a great Irish store here called Avoca.

Molls Gap
Molls Gap

So after chilling out at Forgefield House for the afternoon, back to Kenmare for an evening out and dinner at Mulcahy’s Wild Garlic Restaurant. It really is as good as its Tripadvisor rating. This was an unusually fishy week for Mrs H and I and we both chose a dish of Roast Halibut with Mussels, Bacon and Clam Cream.

There is loads of traditional Irish music going on throughout Kenmare but we headed to Foleys Bar on two evenings to enjoy the wonderful music and great Irish Whiskey! So the biggest applause to you, Dan O’Sullivan for your great entertainment and how could anyone not be moved on hearing Oh Danny Boy.

Dan O'Sullivan at Foleys Bar
Dan O’Sullivan at Foleys Bar

The best fish and chips in town are probably at O’Donnabhains traditional bar and another restaurant worth trying is Number 35. Again great selection of seafood and my favourite dish here at lunchtime was the House Cured Salmon Gravlax with Jameson Whiskey, Toasted Hazelnuts & Diced Beetroot.

This was a very special trip for us and we loved every minute of it. Thanks Sheila and Ian.

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