The Monastery Inn and restaurant is in the village of Clonard, part of the Boyne Valley. This roadside premises is traditional and tasteful, and serves honest, well made food in a charming setting, and proprietors Pat and Marie Cooney are always on hand with a warm welcome.
There is no little bit of history associated with the village. In Early Christian Ireland the druidic tradition was succeeded or absorbed by the new Christian faith. Study of Latin learning and Christian theology in monasteries flourished. Clonard Abbey, situated on the River Boyne in modern County Meath was one of the main monastic schools.
During the sixth century, some of the most significant names in the history of Irish Christianity studied at the Clonard monastery. It is said that the average number of scholars under instruction at Clonard was 3,000. Twelve students who studied under St. Finian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.
The monastery Inn do a fine job of highlighting this rich history, and indeed its later connections with the battle of 1798 and as a site beloved by Dr Wilde, father of Oscar, and traveller and cartographer.
This was our second trip to Clonard to the Monastery Inn. This roadside in serves great, honest home cooked food. Staff are friendly and efficient, and the seats by the fires on a cold evening are at a premium.
We started with a portion of the spare ribs for the better prettier half. She's quite a small person, and they were a big portion, but they were also sticky and delicious and Dee managed to do them justice. I started with a taste of the newest superfood; Clonakilty black pudding with crispy bacon strips on a salad. I have a thing for pudding, and I reckon I've tried nearly them all.
I've had dinner with Jack McCarthy from Cork and Kelly from Westport, and tasted Tommy Hickey smooth, almost pate textured white that's spicier that a Ladyboy Spice Girl tribute band. The menu said it came with a sweet chilli sauce, and I have to admit I was dubious, but this was a homemade sauce, more chilli kick than the sickly sweet jam shop bought variety, and it really behaved more like a hot relish, lending the pudding a really spicy hit.
Main courses brought Deirdre the fish of the day, a perfectly cooked piece of hake with mashed potato and stir fried vegetables, while I surfed and turfed my way through the steak and prawn combo, which I had with a pepper sauce and hand cut chips. No surprises here, just two well made dishes that did what they said on the tin.
For desserts we went with the new and the old, a traditional sherry trifle that shouldn't be passed by, and a light layered chocolate cake layered with homemade ice cream.
The Monastery Inn is a great stopping off point on a journey east or west. It's only 5 mins from the Kinnegad exit, there's plenty of parking and the food and prices will delight.