Walking across the threshold of the Currarevagh House after a long, chilly and wet day navigating the narrow lanes along the west coast of Ireland, being greeted by hot tea and freshly-baked cake near a warm, peat fire felt like a little slice of heaven. By the time my bones were warmed and the tension had left my shoulders, I had moved on to a generous pour of wine and settled in to learn the history of Ireland’s longest-running, family-owned country house.
This bed and breakfast near Galway in Oughterard, was built in 1842 with the wealth of a mining family, ancestors of the current owners. When the mining business tanked, the industrious family moved to new pursuits, including inventing the turf briquette, a version of which was currently keeping me warm. After a turbulent history during the Irish Civil War, Famine, and World War I and II, the estate was eventually opened in 1947 as the first guesthouse with a restaurant open for non-guests and guests alike. (See recommendations for other country houses in Ireland.)
Today, Currarevagh is run by the Henry Hodgson and his wife Lucy serves as chef. There are 12 guestrooms, including both twin-bedded rooms and doubles. Located on Lake Corrib in the quiet countryside, Currarevagh appeals to couples looking for a mini-break. However, since the owners have three young children of their own, they know how to make families comfortable. For families with young children, they offer rooms in a wing near the library so as not to disturb other guests. They can also offer families private dining in the library where they don’t need to worry as much about having perfectly behaved children in the hushed dining room.
On-site, there is a library with books and games for wet days, but outside families can hike the estate grounds or borrow a rowboat to spend a day on Lake Corrib. There is also croquet on the lawn or limited WiFi in the downstairs common area.
Nearby, families can visit Aughnanure Castle or Brigit’s Garden, a Celtic garden and mythically-inspired café. Those more adventurous can try horseback riding at the Knockillaree Riding Center or visit the Glengowla Mines. Candle making is possible at de Lacy’s near Oughterard or those looking to explore on foot can walk the Western Way with beautiful, rugged landscapes. Further afield, it is possible to do a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, The Burren or the Aran Islands. If you do spend time outside exploring, Currarevagh House has an assortment of wellies, umbrellas, and raincoats to borrow.
I was a guest of Currarevagh House, one of the many Ireland’s Blue Book properties throughout the country. Unfortunately I only had one night at Currarevagh House but that was enough to enjoy the hosts’ warm hospitality and an authentic Irish countryside experience.
My friend Kirsten and I shared a room with two twin beds. Our room was comfortably outfitted with period-appropriate décor. Maybe we were just really tired but when we tucked in for the night we were out like lights in the comfy beds (but still managed to get up to see the sunrise over the lake.) Each room has an en-suite bathroom. The bathroom was a bit small but the room was spacious enough for the two of us to still comfortably get ready.
At the Currarevagh House, breakfast is served from 8:30 – 11 am, although something can be made available earlier if you need an early departure. Tea is daily from 4:30 – 6pm with freshly baked pastries. Dinner is served promptly at 8:00 pm. If you have signed up for dinner service, you can review the menu in advance to see if you need any menu adjustments based on preferences or dietary restrictions. Otherwise, it is a four-course Chef’s tasting menu.
After tea, we quickly freshened up for dinner. Dressing for dinner isn’t required, but it just seems like the kind of place where a nice (or at least fresh) outfit is appropriate. The bell summoned us to the dining room promptly at 8:00 pm, where we quickly settled in for a gastronomic delight.
Chef Lucy balances the art of home cooking with modern cuisine. We started with an amuse bouche, and continued with a three-course tasting menu. First up was a fillet of lamb with smoked aubergine and crisp sumac. That was followed by salted silver hake with native lobster, leeks, tomatoes, and spinach with dill aioli. We finished off with a blackcurrant, pistachio and cardamom tart with blackcurrant and Cassis ice cream and a selection of Irish cheeses.
Breakfast the following morning was a lovely bounty with a buffet of fresh fruit, yogurt, oats, and pastries, as well as the option for a hot breakfast. I couldn’t get enough of the freshly based croissants, which were as good as any I’ve had in Paris.
I was disappointed to only have one night at the Currarevagh House. It was a nice blend of cozy and welcoming, without being pretentious. I’d recommend it for families looking for a one or two-night stay at an authentic country house.
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Note: As stated, we were guests of the Currarevagh House in association with Ireland’s Blue Book. All opinions are my own.