Dunmore House is situated right on the Wild Atlantic Way just 5 min drive outside the beautiful West Cork town of Clonakilty. The drive out is pretty, but when you reach Dunmore House the views over Inchydoney and the bay are simply breathtaking.
Dunmore House was first opened in 1934 as a guesthouse and in 1961 it became a hotel. Over the years there have been many additions to the property, such as an extra 15 bedrooms with stunning sea views. There is a 9 hole golf course with club house to the rear, and on a sunny day you can sit outside on one of five terraces, one of which has a bar built in the shape of a boat, and enjoy the sectacle of nature..
This is a family run hotel, and there is a warm welcome on arrival. As a base for exploring West Cork it is particularly good: all the staff are local and have a great knowledge of all the best things to see and do, so make sure to pick their brains.
Making sure it all runs smoothly is owner Carol Barrett, who is omnipresent but somehow discreet, and who, along with her helpful children - working while off college - pitch in on what needs doing, even dragging golf clubs up to the first tee for a slightly embarrassed food critic. Alongside the family is Anne Marie Harte, theoretical wedding co-ordinator, actual everything organisor, and these two women with their friendly staff revive jaded travellers with kindness and happiness.
The rooms are lovely as well; each one is different, but good taste is evident throughout. I was spoiled with a dinky little terrace where I could watch the sun go down while enjoying a Nespresso from the machine on the room! On days like this I can almost feet guilty discribing this as work.
Food is a key component of the offering here and smart, contemporary dining room has magnificent views and an interesting and eclectic collection of modern art. Indeed, the hotel also doubles as a gallery for the art collected over three generations, and there are some particularly lovely pieces.
The menu is nicely put together and features, quite naturally, a great selection of seafood, as well as produce found from local growers and suppliers. I love to see plenty of West Cork produce on the menu; fresh seafood and shellfish from Union Hall, meats from Clonakilty craft butchers and organic produce from the surrounding West Cork countryside. If fish isn’t your thing, they also have some excellent local lamb, and a take on bacon and caggage from locally reared pigs.
The wine list is well put together and features wines from small producers, with some I haven’t come across, but would gladly return to try. There are some good wines to enjoy here, and if you are a fan of dessert wine, ask for a glass or three!
I seems a shame to do anything but eat fish when perched on the edge of the Atlantic, so I started with the home made prawn scampi from local Union Hall boats. They were deliciously light and were beautifully served with simple leaves on a striking black plate. A bit of theatre thrown in, and the scampi loved it almost as much as me.
Abi had the the homemade chicken liver pâté that was the very good, and came with a tangy yet sweet redcurrant jelly and good homemade sour dough bread.
Main course brought me more of the flavours from Union Hall, with one of their signature dishes, the pan fried fillets of plaice. Simply fried they were perfectly cooked, and sides of garlic potato, a little au gratin, and some carrot and parship and unwilted greens completed a perfect dish.
Abi again crossed the bay and had the roast Rosscarbery bacon with a delicious Gibbeen cheese cream sauce. Again, the meat was lovely, with a great flavour, and a glass of Rioja was a lovely accompaniement.
Desserts were tempting, but the jelly and ice cream couldn't be passed up, though this retro treat was washed down with dessert wine from Hungary; as my mother would have said, it's a long way from dessert wine you were reared!
There are many places to stay down West Cork, but I have to say that Dunmore House has to be up there in the top 10 best places to stay and eat in Ireland. Tasteful, graceful, friendly and with simply breathtaking views it's a hidden gem. There are hotels in Ireland far more famous that deliver a lot less. We loved it and urge you to visit when down West Cork way. Highly recommended.
**Dunmore House is a very popular wedding venue; as a setting for photos alone it’s a great location. Add to that tasteful decoration, splendid food and it’s easy to see why it is so popular.